Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Sebring Revisited

There's been a few questions on other forums about the Sebring 12/24 race so I'm going to put quick recap with a few photos up here. Last year Sebring was my first ever ultra event so this year it will be sort of like a 1 year anniversary. Before Sebring last year I hadn't ever ridden a bike over 110 miles.

Basically you can enter 12 or 24 hours, drafting or non-drafting. The RAAM qualifier is the non-drafting 24 hour event 425 miles are needed to qualify. Only 3 people qualified last year.

So here's some pictures :

Some start photos. Little did I know at the time that the guy just off to my right (in the Maxim/Colnago kit) would set the Sebring course record at 500 miles, then set the record at the HOS. Chris MacDonald would later go on to finish his first RAAM in second place, earning rookie of the year honors. The guy was a machine. He beat everyone in the first 12 hours, including a STRONG racing team from Georgia that was working a sweet pace line in the 12 hour drafting division, then he went on to ride 12 more hours! His time for the first century was around 4:15 (no-drafting remember) and we had a 15 mph wind that was quartering in our face on the way out. After the turnaround the wind shifted and was hitting us head on for a good section of return leg.

During the first 3 parade laps around the race track the sun rises

In the RAAM division you can not draft nor can anyone draft off you. Non-drafting entrants have the lowest rider numbers. That led to a whole lot of this (<---) during the first 50 miles of the grand loop. Sitting back 15 yards from a 15 person pace line. Sort of like exquisite torture. If you want to speed up and pass, you have to pass the whole line, but hey, its a long day so no need to rush things too early. I would actually cruise up along side the guys every now and then to say "how ya' doin'", then drift back to the lonely position of the detached caboose. After 50 miles I really didn't see any more pace lines. The fast ones were up ahead by then.

You meet some of the nicest folks at these events. Can't say I've ever seen a "bent" quite this low:

After the first century you loop around an 11 mile circuit that is basically a triangle with essentially 2 turns, and an in and out of the pit road. A few small rollers and a long straight section of road that was directly into the wind last year. See a map of the short loop here.

After 6:30 the 12 hours folks call it a day and the rest of us go on to the night pits, which, imagine that, are actually real (automobile) PITS! The rest of the night is spent riding around, and around, and around the 3.7 mile road course. You're required to have a front light and a rear blinky. I was quite surprised at the number, variety and placement of everyone's blinkies, and was a bit bummed out I only had one. My night riding cockpit was complete with cell phone and MP3 player to help while away the boredom. The toughest thing about the those laps (aside from the monotony) is going by the pit every 11-15 minutes and resisting the urge to stop. Eventually around 11-12 PM I stopped to refuel and the temps in the 40's with a brisk wind went right through me. I'd only brought 1 pair of arm warmers, and one pair of leg warmers. Once they got wet and sweaty I got hypothermic and sat in the car shivering like a bowl of jello in an earthquake, so I had to call it a night. Much was learned that day and since. I WILL be better prepared this year!

Pit locations - the day time "pits" are along each side of the entry road highlighted in yellow. The night pits are on the race track itself and highlighted in pink.

Best of luck to everyone at the race this year.



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