After finishing first last year I had to go back and ride at this event again. The goal was to exceed my performance of 212.5 miles.In the beginning of the year I managed 207.9 miles on a hilly Maryland Race and 217.8 miles in Illinois . The goal for this edition was to finally get to 220 miles.
The event is in a small beautiful town named Washington , NC . On Friday I drove down during the night as I don`t like driving in the daylight when heat and traffic are terrible. Even had a chance to get a nice set of pictures from the waterfront in this historic town.
It is located on the northern bank of the Pamlico River. During the American Revolutionary War, Washington served as a supply port while all major neighboring ports were under British siege. Basketball Hall of Fame Dominique Wilkins is from here – nine-time NBA All-Star, and one of the best dunkers in NBA history, earning the nickname “The Human Highlight Film.”
Unfortunately my SD card was left in the car and I accidentally vacuumed it while cleaning 😦 What a luck. For now I will just show you some google pictures.
I also visited Goose Creek State Park and took some amazing pictures there as well.
I spent some time and replaced the tires. My new choice was Vittoria Rubino Pro instead of the Continental 4000s II. A bit slower but hopefully with better protection and cornering. I feel like they will perform better if it rains as well. The Continental were really fast. Speed comes at a cost as they had way too many flats for a tire set under 1000 miles. One of my tires actually exploded the previous weekend so I replaced both.
The next morning was race day and I arrived around 5 am at the start in Washington High school. My location was exactly the same as last year – after the finish line in a shaded area under the trees. It was nice to see many familiar faces as the ultracycling community is not that big. Few riders I met at Big Jays in Illinois were there. Billy Volchko was also there. He set the record last year at 265 miles and will most likely try to better his performance ! Valerie was also there doing the 24 h event. Tim Copeland was doing the 12h and Nancy and John Guth – relay 24 h . Sadly, a lot less participants from the DC area compared to 2016.
The course was slightly different as the race director had to change it a little due to some construction.
The elevation was still almost non – existing with cumulative elevation gain for 200 miles of about 1400 feet. Funny enough, when the legs are tired it feels like there are few hills 🙂
At exactly 7am after some final instructions we were ready to depart. Without much festivities we set off. The pace in the beginning was typically brutal – above 23 mph and up to 28 mph. Billy quickly went to the front and I followed. Nice draft for the first 4 or 5 miles and then we switched. After pulling for another 3 to 4 miles I turned around to realize in shock that it was just me and him on a upright bicycle. We were followed by 3 recumbents . I guess nobody was willing to do hard work . . . This is going to be a long day !
Billy exchanged few words with the recumbents . One of them decided to take a turn and pull for us. I was behind him . The draft was almost non-existing as I am one of the tallest on the course 🙂 It felt like I was still doing all the work myself. He could not even keep a steady pace either. It was a bit frustrating but I kept on pushing with a smile on my face. After few more miles Billy went back to the front and increased the pace.
We were only 15 miles into the race and I could not even follow anymore. Watching my heart rate was important as it was already going up. Billy is in a better shape so I decided to be smart and slow down. With the heat and humidity coming soon I told him to keep pushing and wished him the best.
My first 25 mile loop was completed in 1h10min and 21.5 Avg speed. Nobody was in front or behind me and I just kept pushing as hard as I can. It was still early in the morning and not so hot. Perfect opportunity to increase my lead and build some time cusion for when it gets humid, hot and hopefully raining.
My Lap #2 was completed almost as fast as the first – 1h13min, Lap #3 in 1h18min.
At this point things got a lot harder as the temperature was increasing and the humidity was just brutal. My next Lap slipped by another 6 minutes. It was time to put on my Cooling Vest that was sitting in the cooler full of Ice. I started lapping some of the slower riders. They were already looking in a bad shape. It was a tough, burning hot day and it felt worse than in 2016.
Lap #5 was completed in 1h39min or 14 minutes slower than the previous one. The one after that was the worse for the day and 6 minutes slower than the previous. Somewhere at this point Billy Lapped me for the first time. I can tell that it was him closing in as the speed that he was approaching with was insane. We exchanged few words and I told him that I was going through a rough moment but still trying to keep up a decent pace. He offered to draft of each other again which we did for a brief moment. Very soon I had to let him go again. Looking back I think it was a good decision.
It was getting little cooler around 3:30 pm and we even got some rain. I was so excited about the rain on the bike like never before. At the next pit stop I attached my fender and kept on cranking.
I saw John on the road and then Nancy on the following lap. She is just simply impressive. I was moving at the same speed but was not allowed to draft since she was doing the 24 h.
I was suddenly feeling good and the speed was increasing . I was not even aware of that as I disconnected my GPS ( it was cutting off because of the bumpy road ) . I also removed the heavy cooling vest. It felt like I have wings now 🙂 This Lap was 7 minutes faster than the previous one – I guess there is hope after all ! After finishing this lap and after another quick gulp of cold Ensure I was on my way out.
The whole time I thought that one Lap is 24.9 miles and 8 laps will give me 199.2 miles. I based this on the published GPS file on the official web page. That file doesn’t take into consideration going into the school parking lot that adds 0.2 miles. As a result I was pushing myself to the limit and somehow crossed the line after my 8th lap with 7 minutes to spare.
In my mind my work was not done yet and I was still chasing that 200 mile mark. People were clapping as they thought that I was finished. I was back on the course flying. The event vehicle followed. As I approached the 2 mile mark I ran out of time.
As a result my final mileage was 204.4. This was not a coincidence as the second guy was 2 miles behind me. Two miles on a 12h race is a tight race. I guess I am so glad that I miscalculated the mileage and pushed myself a little harder 🙂
After 12 hours of racing , 4 gallons of water and 10 bottles of Ensure I earned my second win on this event. I did not accomplished my goal of reaching 220 miles but a win is a win. More importantly my main goal was achieved. This was my third 200 mile race for the year on a UMCA sanctioned events.
Congratulations to Beau & Babe – John & Nancy Guth and their stunning performance of 446.1 miles. Billy placed first with 262 miles!
There are few interesting charts that I discovered on Strava. Apparently, there is a new future monitoring your Fitness and Fatigue. How cool is that ! I am still trying to figure it out but is easy to see that my fitness is steadily improving. I feel like I can maintain higher speeds and not even have shortage of breath. My recovery time is way better as well.
It is easy to see that my Fitness is up by +9 points – whatever that measurement is.
My 3 races with are represented by the red dots.
On the other hand the Fatigue is extremely high during my first few big Rando events in April and May and to no surprise during the 3 races. Interesting enough the fatigue is lower on the first red dot representing MD Endurance Challenge 12h compared to Mid – Atlantic 12h. My mileage was higher at Maryland and so was the climbing . The heat and humidity in North Carolina must have taken a toll on me.
To no surprise the highest fatigue was during Big Jays 12h where I set my personal goal of 217.8 miles.