Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Just Another Night on the Bike - Chasin' Blinkies


The track had blinkies,
So did we,
Stopped once or twice 'cause I had to take a pee,
Good music in my ears made night riding fun,
Lost 90 minutes on flat number 1,
387 miles was good news to hear,
but I know that I can,
do better next year.

If you'd like all the details, read on....................


One of the cool things about 24+ hour cycling events is that you reach a point that is somewhere else. Sort of removed from reality. Days after it's over your brain struggles to try and process all the info, sifting through facts, imagination, and delerium to put a full memory of the event together. You find yourself thinking "Did that really happen?", "Could that have really happened?" "Why did I do that?" etc etc. The line between perception and actuality gets more and more blurred the longer you ride.

On the Sebring racetrack at night, reality revolves mainly around one thing - blinking red lights. In a group of roadies "blinkies" are about as cool as a fart in church. Many would rather show up at a group ride in downhill pads than with a blinkie flashing off their back. But at Sebring they take on a higher level of existence. They become your badge, your signature, even a reflection of your personality. OK, maybe that last one is a stretch, but you see what I'm sayin'. So I went with the standard bright blinkie at the seat stays, and a larger straight line blinkie mounted vertically off the seat tube. With one more on my helmet I was set to go. I think it was James Kern (517 miles) on his bent that gets the award for most decorated night bike - At the end he was rollin' complete with glowing neon spoke covers.

This year the course was marked with small orange cones at the turn apices. On each cone was - - - you guessed it - - - a blinkie. So we had stationary AND moving blinkies. On the long straights you could see blinkies over 1/2 mile away. You couldn't tell if they were actually moving or not untill much closer.

So anyway I took about 30 minutes in transition setting up just like it was a restart of the same race. Moved the car, filled up both bladders, stocked with fuel enough for an 8-10 hour non-stop ride. Took out 2 of the 3 spare tubes that I was carrying all day, thinking it would be a little bit lighter. There was so many people entered in the 24hr that everyone had to park their vehicles in the grass behind the pit building. Crew could carry coolers, spares, chairs etc. up through the pit facilities and set up right on the track side. It was a bit inconvienient for self-supported folks as we had to ride off the track, through the pits and out to our car when we wanted something. I looked at it as a blessing - I'd be less tempted to stop than if I was setup track side. It sure didn't slow down 2006 solo RAAM entrant Bryce Walsh, who got in 433 miles and did it all self-supported. Great work.

I eased out onto the track and turned on the music. The next 6 hours went by quickly. I was feeling great. Can't really remember ever feeling that good on a bike. No lap counting, just checking the clock to make sure I Gu'ed up and drank when when I was supposed to. Foolishly started doing the numbers game in my head. I reckoned I'd made the transition with 220 miles in. Solo RAAM qualification is 425. Didn't think that'd be a problem. Heck I was feelin' so good I thought 430-440 would be within the realm. Then my right brain told my left brain to just shut up and ride. The mix disc was rockin' my world. A combination of diverse songs that fit together in a strange way and kept me rollin'. Sorry BJ, no LoveShack. Although I think it would've worked. One set I remember that really got it done :

No stops 'cept 1 or 2 nature breaks. Good to see the kidneys still workin'. Somewhere after midnight - THWAP.....THWAP......THWAP. A rear flat. Awww heck. A breif moment of denial, then pull off to assess the situation. First impulse was to ride the rim in. Happened between turn 9 sand 10 , pullled off around turn 11. Couldn't be farther away from the pits, but it was a short course. A kind soul pulled over to help. Got the tubes switched out quick, but struggled with the CO2 adaptor. Seems the seal was dried out. The contents of the first 2 cartridges were released mostly into the night air. Spitting into the thing worked and the entire contents of the last (large) cartridge filled the tube till the tire was solid as a rock. Tightened up the quick release and started to pick up the bike and


The darn thing blew up! The last cartridge was a large 16 gr MTB size and overinflated it. Now no choice but to walk it in. Once to the pits, I switched wheels, then fiddled around in the car to find more CO2's . Put the 2 tubes back in my Camelback. On the way back out to the track I made another mistake. I stopped at the scoring area to see where I stood. A complex spreadsheet showed an array of numbers that was way beyond my comprehension. The scoring guy did his best to explain everything, but I just stared blankly into space. I'd lost the ability for simple math hours ago. He could've just as well been explaining quantum physics. One thing I did render was that they only had me down for 9 short loops, not ten. Hmmmm. I tried to muster up an argument but knew it was futile, the computer couldn't be wrong, and my endorphin muddled brain could be. The air was fizzling out of my high flying balloon. The wind no longer filling my sails. Time to shut up and ride.

Back out on the track and up to speed. A bit over 4 hours to go. Didn't seem to be as many people out riding. I'd pass people and they'd get on my wheel and draft. Now during the day you might not even notice, but at night their light would cast a huge shadow in front of me. The rules clearly state that the no drafting RAAM division meant no drafting - others were not allowed to draft off you either. Having wheel suckers tag along at that point was messin' with my head and my pace. I shouldn't of let it bug me but I did. One guy was even "nice" enough to ask me if he could draft. I told him it was against the rules, but it wouldn't bother me. I lied. 4 laps later I pulled over faking a rest stop just to get him off my wheel. Guess I was just frustrated at the whole flat/scoring thing. Even more mad now that I let it get under my skin. Oh well. live and learn. Talking to others at breakfast that morning I learned that that part of the "no-drafting rule" was loosely enforced. OK then. I finished my last lap at 23:52 and change and asked if I could keep going. Maybe get partial credit for a lap. Nope. Only full laps count, so I was done. Total mileage at 387.1. I can (and will) do better.

In all I'm very pleased. I finally found the fueling regimen that would keep me going for 24+ hours. Looking back I'm mad at myself for letting the little things bug me at the end. I know I could've, and should've ridden the last 2 hours harder. I was pedaling like a whipped dog, with his tail tucked between his legs. Especially after seeing Julie G from team Sorella out of Atlanta really kick it in on her last 3-4 laps. That's the way I should've finished. I needed someone to give me a good kick in the junk and say - "Ride Like You Mean It, You Lazy A$$" . Bringin' it home (-->) after 23 hours.

Thanks for reading,



"I needed someone to give me a good kick in the junk and say - "Ride Like You Mean It, You Lazy A$$" . Bringin' it home (-->) after 23 hours."

deep into the pain cave and no one to chase, tough situation to "kick it in!" DUDE! you had an awesome ride! self-supported at that. you would've qualified for RAAM w/a pit crew... great post, great riding!

if you feel like sharing your fueling plan... but understand if it's super-top secret! the ingredients in my pasta salad of power is top secret. well kinda. not really. anyway, the reason i'm asking is last did high-tech Hammer stuff, had steadier energy but wanted to puke all the time. thinking about going-back to standard foods that have done me right (more sugars too). curious if you roll w/standard foods or energy drinks/foods or mix of both.
You're the man JB. GREAT WORK! I look forward to shaking your hand in Hawarden! Excellent write up!
I'm impressed with the ride and the writing. Your last comment made my day.
Thanks all. Still not the same as 340 miles o' gravel goodness.......

Really starting to look forward to TI, in a sick, twisted, masochistic way.
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