For 2018 I planned 4 x 24h Races and 1 x 12h. I really wanted to do Sebring 24h and heard many great stories about the event. Just wasn’t sure that I would be able to pull this one off . . . It is February and what better excuse to escape the cold DC weather than to go to a warmer place and ride a bicycle. However, this also meant that I need to train harder in the winter and get in shape quick. The winter was extremely cold and I was forced to train indoors.
Everything for the event started with purchasing a pretty frameset (2012 Orbea Ordu) in my favorite color scheme. I then got 50 mm deep Carbon Wheelset that arrived 2 days before the race. The bike was build in November with the intention of getting used to it and being ready for Sebring. I was only able to use it for 780 miles prior the race, but my FTP was looking decent at 254 Watts ( 3.53 w/kg ).
After brutal 21 h drive ( to include 5 hr sleep ) I arrived late at Chåteau Élan Hotel & Conference Center that serves as race Headquarters . It was 7:30 pm or 30 minutes before registration ends. My racing number was 50 ( 50 is then the number of racers expected for the 24h Race).
I then left immediately to get some food , headed back to the hotel to prepare my bike and equipment and grab some extra ZzZzZzZz. Unfortunately, I slept just 4 hrs and this was strike one against me for race day ! Oh Well . . .
We lined up at the start early in the morning under dense fog. It was hard to see more than a 100 ft away !
The fog was actually still there 5 hours into the race. We were all getting wet and sticky immediately, or at least I was. The temperature at 10 am was already close to 80F. Few racers were applying sunscreen at the start , but I thought that it is not really necessary . Strike two against me . . .
My average speed for the first 100 miles was about 19.5 mph. Maybe this is too quick of a start and poor pacing. . . The plan was to simply build a buffer during daylight with fresh legs, low wind and no sun.
My 101.5 mile loop was completed in 5:11:29 to include 2 laps on the track. There was only 1 recumbent faster than me by 2 min. Another 10 upride racers were ahead of me out of 51, to include an HPV (Velomobile).
Few were drafting and that is against the rules ( evident by the official pictures) . Considering there was drafting judge, I was surprised that they are willing to take chances !
We faced nasty headwind on the 11 mile loop ,pushing crazy watts to go 15.6 mph on a 45 min average time per lap. It was so bad that we were almost moving with single digits . . . My 11 mile loop splits :
As a result of the heat and the wind, I ended up with burned skin pretty badly . . .
I then entered the racetrack with a comfortable 18 mph average speed , ready to easily get 400 miles for the day. The only problem was that my supplies needed to be moved from the 11 mile loop to the track. They were not there once I entered the track. Strike 3 !
After completing a 15 min lap , I was feeling sick during my 2nd lap. Luckily ,Scott Cone was there supporting Earl and Chip, and he was able to retrieve my supplies quickly. As evident by the splits below I was stopped for over one hour to recover.
I felt so sick that I was puking , having bad headache, chest pain and was barely able to talk. .The burned skin did not help either. Thanks to Suzanne and Scott for getting me moving again. They ended up giving me some pills , liquids and food . I then slept for about 1 h.
Once my eyes were open, the speedometer was still showing average speed of 17 mph ( still a chance for a 400 miles race ). Calling it a day actually crossed my mind a few times while puking. On top of that the wind was still really bad all the way until 1 am. . .
I decided to not quit and kept going. My splits were looking decent at around 12 min / lap for the first 5 laps. The times then increased for the following 3 laps once I started feeling sick again.
Scott told me that regardless if I continue or not, I will still finish 3rd in my age group ( the 4th racer already quit and it was just 3 of us now ).
I decided to keep going and did another 60 miles until I felt really sick again with 4 hours to go. There was no point risking injury or my health. The race was over for me. This was the right decision !
There was also mechanical failure with the front Derailleur that resulted in racing on the small ring almost the whole night at the track. You can tell by the Splits below that one of the laps took me over 3 hours. If you wonder what I was doing at that time just refer to the picture below 🙂
It was nice to see that I was the 15th fastest on the track out of 74 Racers using Strava with time of 9:24 and 23.1 mph average speed ! I need to come back and better this time next year. I would also definitely research how to take the track corners better. Car racers were not impressed with our cornering skills, and plenty of time can be gained by perfecting this art.
In the end , my moving time was 15h11 min and completed 264 miles with 17.4 mph average speed.
Special Shout out to Scott and Suzanne, the real life savers . . .
I also got a medal for biking 15hrs and sleeping another 5 🙂
Great Performance by Earl Jansen ( on a fixie ) and Chip Adams who also medaled. The dive for the final lap from Chip was amazing and movie worthy . His fastest lap was his last, making it with less than a second to spare ( only full laps count ).
Out of 51 racers I finished 40th Overall and 3rd in my age group. This is disappointing , but I also learned valuable lessons and will definitely come back stronger. What doesn’t brake you, makes you stronger , remember ?
The gentleman on the picture below ( Marcus Blagrove) was in my age group and ended up crushing it with 467.7 miles, doing just 1 extra lap over the 2nd racer. Notice the shape of his chainring !
Next up is Calvins Challenge 24 hour on may 4-5th.