Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Sebring 24 Hour

The Short Version :

It was cold. It got warmer, it got windier, it got colder, it got windier, the wind let up for a while. It started raining. I was asleep.

Did the first century in sub 5 hours. No-drafting. Sort of a "new" PR.

216 miles in less than 12 hours
Fell asleep on (and fell off) my bike at 21 hours. Pulled the plug with 350+ miles.
If you want the rest of the sordid details,

ReadOn my friend,

The Long Version :

The Century Loop

Start at 6:30AM, temp had "warmed up" to 35 or so. WHAT? This is southern Florida isn't it?

I had plenty of layers on. Thick tights, heavy winter gloves, balaclava too. Looked like many had decided not to start because of the cold weather. Expected a big group of drafters to take off at warp speed like last year but that never happened. I went out smooth and steady and was actually too warm early on. D-Bo was riding around w/Andy's crew so I was able to switch to some thinner gloves. That helped.

It was nice to talk to Tim Bol and Kevin Kaiser for a while as we leap frogged through the century. Shed the balaclava at mile 65. I was getting hot and needed to loose the tights, but was feeling too good too stop.

Ran out of fluids at mile 75. The sun was out in full force and I guess the temp was approaching 50. I was definately getting over heated. The last 10 miles were a bit miserable - directly into a freshening 10-15 mph wind. My mouth felt like a desert. Tried to choke down Gu's but they just stuck to everything in my dry mouth like glue. Still managed a sub 5 hour (no-drafting) century. I guess that's sort of a PR. Last time I'd broke 5 hours was maybe 25 years ago ........... yeesh I'm getting old. Seems to be a right of passage every year at Sebring to get leg cramps in the first century. Was prepared with Endurolytes and they did the trick. Took 4-6 every hour, while I had fluids anyway. Was pretty dry and bonked by the end of the century.

Back at the pits I slammed some water, shed layers, took more ECaps, filled another bladder and off on the short loops. 20 minutes stop time. Saw Hoppo roll by 1 lap ahead. That guy is awesome. I'd first met him at the Texas 24. He's always offering encouraging words. I got back ahead of the energy/hydration curve after 4-5 12 mile laps.

The wind seemed to be increasing (I was probably just getting tired) and felt like it was directly into our face on the first leg of the 12 mile loop. The last 3-4 mile straight was dead downwind and WICKED fast. Drop it onto the 12 tooth and crank it up. Started every short loop with a frown, and finished it with a smile.

After about 6 12 mile loops the wind was starting to get to my head. I'd really planned on getting in 10 short loops, but that first beat into the wind on Rt 98 was relentless, and seemed to get worse every lap. I had to put my head down and stare at the pavement for 3-4 miles, not looking up until near the end. When I saw a Powerbar someone had dropped on the shoulder, I knew that stretch of road was almost finished.

Went to the track at 11:15 into the race or so, and was really excited about not having to climb those pesky little whoop-de-doos and ride into the wind anymore. Was so thrilled I almost sprinted onto the track. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, releaf is here ............... or so I thought.

The wind was even worse on the open exposed track. DEAD into our face on the long straight toward the hotel. 14 mph was almost impossible. On the first lap I think 45 recumbents passed me. OK maybe that's a stretch.

I did another lap and the wind was really getting me down.

I saw the pit was set up so I pulled off and started having the first of many conversations with myself.

In the pits I put some layers back on, and lights. Cried to anyone who would listen about the wind. Andy was there ready to make the transition into the night. Couldn't get my back up light to stay on the mount. Wasted a ton of time. Went back out.
A few laps more as the darkness fell I realized my main light had some kind of short. Every bump would make it flicker and sometimes go off for a second or two. Was annoying. Realized my iPod was in my backback. I needed the music. Stopped again to check the light and put headphones on. Messed more with the backup light. It fell off by the end of pit row. Stopped on the next lap to pick it up.

My iPod played one song then stopped. I turned it on again and the Stephen Hawkings audio book "A Brief History of Time" was playing. That was bizzare.

"If a star were a grain of salt, you could fit all the stars visable to the nakid eye in a teaspoon, but all the stars in the universe would fill a bowl more than 8 miles wide ............... "

Thank you Stephen. I think.

What I really needed to know was,

"How many blinkies does it take to fill a support van?"

I stopped once more, fixed the iPod to play like it should, messed with the lights to no avail, then went out again. Decided to memorize the blinking lights marking the course in case I had to finish with no headlight.

Then things finally started to feel right. The tunes were playing (thanks Jason for the mix #16 that got me through a good 1 hour+). My legs felt strong, I was keeping a nice pace, and life was grand. Just the way it should be. Laps were going by quickly. Took the Camelback off and felt like I was flying. New bottle of fuel every 5 laps. For an all too short period of time I felt like I was driving one of those open wheeled cars around the course, BOY was that fun!!!

Then my light finally went out. Rode a lap or 2 in the dark. It would blink on occasionally, but for the most part it was cooked. I went to the pits to try to find a cure. Jim and Kyle worked hard to figure something out. We eventually found the problem with the main light (the spare was fried from bouncing down the road).

I was off again.
Jim had checked the sheet and told me I had 320 miles in with just over 5 hours left. I knew RQing was impossible with all the time off the bike, so I set my goal at 400 miles. Did the math and figured I'd need 23 more laps. Didn't seem to be a stretch. Figured on doing three sets - 8, then 8, then 7. Rest stops in between.

During the first 8, I noticed I was having a little trouble focusing. I was riding the entire night without clear glasses (won't do that again) and I think the wind combined with the high contrast was making my eyes tired. Stopped for a quick refuel.

My first lap out in the next set was really bizarre. Everything was going fine until ........

I woke up with a start to find myself rolling through the grass off the track. PHEEEEW.

Got back on the track and tried to figure out what had just happened. I'd never fallen asleep while riding. Before I could figure things out, it happened again toward the end of the lap. This time I actually fell off the bike at a low speed into some sand/grass. Strange.

Cruised into the pits in a confused state and decided to pull the plug with a bit less than 3 hours to go. I'll have a whole year to ponder whether or not it was the right decision. I guess I could've rested for a while, then tried to go back out, but with the temperature dropping, it was harder and harder to get back on the bike after cooling down.

I pulled the car over to the hotel, took a nice hot shower and crawled into bed. As I did D-Bo went out and collected up all my stuff from the pit area, and turned in my timing chip. Much thanks. He said it started raining at 4:45 AM, so I guess I'm quite glad that I didn't ride through it. (That's abject rationalization powered by 20/20 hindsight and disappointment).

Bryce came up to the room to get a shower after riding the whole time. He started out not feeling to well and finished strong. Well done. He said they had a medal for my 3rd place. Oh well, slept through another one. Kudos to Andrea Tosalini (1st finisher at BMB this year) who won my age group.
The pits, once bustling with activity, were quite empty during the wee hours of the morning.

BIG PROPS to all of you that raced, crewed, yelled, volunteered, and supported. As Lou said, there was a whole lot of love out there. Made me proud to be part of the ultra community. Especially to all that actually rode the entire time. Looks like the worse conditions (temps in the 40s and rain) were at the end. You folks are tougher than nails.
A great big thank you to Kyle, Jim, and yes, D-B0 too. Was great having you all out there.

The good thing - I feel better than I ever have after a 24 (okay just 21 hour) event. Actually got back on my bike 10 hours later in Dade City with thoughts of doing a Crit with D-Bo. Rode for 20-30 minutes and realized racing was out of the question, but it still felt better riding than sitting down or walking, and I've ridden comfortably every day since.

Thanks for reading, and




I thought I was the only one to notice the wind :)
Great writeup. Enjoyed reading it.

Fell asleep ON the bike!? Twice? Scary. My first (and only, so far) 24 had two sleepy moments, but not nearly as bad as yours. I had the luxury of a crew driving behind me at night with a can of Red Bull and encouraging words to revive me.

Do you think if you hadn't had nagging tech issues, you might have done better? Those things gnaw at the edges of your resolve like rust on a 1980 Dodge Omni.

And, almost forgot... a sub 5 hr century to start the event?! No drafting? Dude, outstanding!
One more thing... are those orange trees in that photo with the big blue sky?
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