This is my second 12 hour event of the year and also part of the UMCA 12 hour Challenge Series.
After 13 hour drive I arrived in Illinois early afternoon on Friday. My stay this time was at a hotel in Champaign , IL. It was conveniently located 10 miles away from the start of the race in Mahomet , IL.
I decided to go with a highly rated Italian restaurant for dinner called Filippos. They did not disappoint. It was family owned and deliciously good . . . My carbohydrate loading mission is accomplished.
After 5 hours of sleep I was up and ready to go. Around 4 am I arrived at Blair-Owens Funeral Home. The race organizer Jay Yost is the Funeral director and the race starts there.
It was almost 5 am and still nobody else but me. Hmmm. Very strange . . . The racers started showing up at 5:30 am. Apparently my phone never switched time zones on its own. Just great ! There it goes an hour of beauty sleep.
Some of the top area cyclists were there – Billy Volchko , Jessop Keene, Collin Johnson, Val Lidzelski. They are actually always in the mix of different 12 / 24 hour race records. The weather was expected to be ideal. This is a guarantee that they will push the pace very high and go for the records across the board. If I can stick around for few laps to build some cushion , then I can achieve my 220 mile goal. My longest 12 hour race so far was 212.5 miles.
After some formal introduction by Jay Yost , the clock was on and we were on our way out. The ride was organized very simple – show up, sign your name on the board and ride your bike for 12 hours. The winners get a Wine bottle !
The race was ON.
I quickly jumped to the front. Nice group of about 10 to 15 riders formed and the train was moving pretty fast. It was nice and cool with temperatures in the 60s with very little wind.
Five miles from the start I heard a loud bang. It was my stupid GPS. I saw it flying and hitting the pavement hard. At least nobody crashed as a result. I looked at my speedometer and memorized the exact mileage. See you later GPS . . .
Further down the road we kept exchanging turns while working very hard. Our average speed was above 23 Mph after the first 24 mile loop. My peak power output based on Strava was about 770 Watts in the beginning of the first Loop. I was pushing myself to the limit on the few ascents at only 2.8 % .
My only issue so far was the gravel at almost every turn. My bike actually skid few times but luckily I managed to keep my balance. Not fun at all 😦 On the other hand the route was marked very well . There were arrows before and after each turn.
I did not to stop for refueling after Loop 1 . My hope was that I can keep up with the lead group that way. It was down to about 6 of us now.
Looking at the above Heart Rate chart it appears that the tempo was a little too much for my level of fitness. Twice in the first 30 miles my HR went almost to Threshold and into Anaerobic. Hard to recover from that.
The speed was also insane – Above 23 Mph average until mile 40 or so.
Around Mile 50 I had to take “nature break”. Not as serious as Tom Dumoulin at the Giro but enough to get dropped. I just could not wait any longer. When I got back on my bike I could see the lead group in the distance. They were approximately 1/2 mile ahead. I tried playing the catch up game in the next 5 miles. It felt like I was closing the gap up the hill and suddenly they vanished 🙂 My hearth rate went up and felt like it was not worth the effort. I backed off , found my rhythm and kept pushing forward .
It was time to listen to my body and race my own race. The new diet worked very well – 1 bottle Ensure + 1 bottle Perpeteum + 1 bottle of water every hour. Bananas here and there. I actually never felt like cramping or being hungry. Zero digestive issues as well. Every time I stopped at the start/ finish line I would drink a bottle of Ensure and switch the water bottles.
After 4 hours and 30 minutes 94 miles were behind me. I also did my fastest 200 km – 126 miles in 6 hours and 15 minutes.
Its a race, its a war and I figured that if you are in a war you might as well shoot some bullets 🙂
7 hours and 10 minutes into the race my Strava was showing 142 miles completed. This was still about 20 Mph average speed !
It was now early afternoon and the temperature was rising. In one of my hardest moments during the race I noticed few people in the distance by their house. Little girl was holding a sign that read : Go Bikers . She was screaming from the top of her lungs. It was so uplifting and encouraging !
Somehow I missed a right turn and continued straight for another 3 miles or so. I realized my mistake and went back. I was hoping that I will get credit for those miles and I did. My calculations were that the leaders will lap me after my 6th Loop around the course. It was actually a little sooner due to the missed turn. My speed was also dropping.
Soon thereafter I can see the two leaders approaching behind me – Jocob Keene , Billy Volchko and one more rider. They offered to work with me again.
Few miles down the road we almost had a freak accident. I remember making a left turn by this corn field and it was a blind spot. All of a sudden everyone stopped and I crossed the road. A huge Pickup truck was speeding down our way. After only about 3 miles I decided to slow down and let them go. It was nice while it lasted but this was not my pace.
It was sunny but we were getting a nice cold breeze. Around 3 pm I was starting to warm up a bit and decided to wear my cooling vest. So happy I did because the temperature was rising. For more info on the vest- Click Here .
Another weird thing that happened was hallucinations. Yes I know, it is only a 12h event. This happens normally on a 600 km brevet or event longer than 2 days. I was seeing a wall on my left side and started swerving to the right. It was crazy. . . I also slept at least 5 hours the previous night. Maybe I was pushing it too hard or the 13 hour drive was catching up to me. Now I had to worry about my safety 😦
It was a big relief to go over 200 miles and still have time left. My goal was 220 miles and it looked like is very doable.
I am really happy with my HR numbers ( See below ) . It is actually the first time I have this data from a race. I managed to stay mostly in Zone 2 and 3 for 90 % of the time and just 8% in Zone 3 – Threshold. Not bad
What I still need to improve is maintaining the same power output and not have this significant drop ( See below ). The good thing is that I was holding above 200 Watts for at least the first 3 hours (According to Strava)
My new Personal Best after 12 hours of racing is now 217.8 Miles and 7th overall. Not bad considering the big names ahead of me.
New course record was established by Jessop Keene and Billy Volchko with 274.7 miles. Simply amazing. It was so nice riding with them in the beginning while sharing the work load.
There was a nice Potluck after the event. Perfect time to chat with the other racers and share stories. The frozen keg of beer and hot food was delicious.
Next up will be the Mid Atlantic 12 / 24 on August 19th