I raced at the Mid-Atlantic 12/24 in North Carolina few weeks ago. It was my third consecutive year participating.
Nancy and John Guth were there once again doing the 24h Relay. Andrea Matney and Greg Conderacci were both competing in the 12h race.
It was the same course from 2016 – low traffic, well marked and plenty of volunteers. They even had police at the intersections early in the morning.
My plan was to stay bellow 21 Mph average speed in the opening lap, and I finished with 20.9 Mph. Riders were chatting away and nobody seemed to be attacking in attempt to get any separation. I met Bob Willix and exchanged few words. After pulling the first few miles , John Guth came by strong and leaded the way for many 12 hour racers. I was in the 24h race and drafting is not allowed, so I opted to wait and let things settle down.
First 100 km (64 miles) completed in 3h9min.
My finishing time on the first loop was still faster by 38 seconds compared to 2016. I was feeling good, managing the effort, eating and hydrating well.
Last year, I attempted to beat the heat with cooling vest. This year, I had new product in my arsenal called Emcools . Thank you Ann Marie and Emcools ! ! ! This is the same cooling pads that Christoph Strasser used during his 2018 RAAM win. It is made by Austrian company , primarily for the military and health industries. It is intended to prevent heat stroke for critically ill patients and uses HypoCarbon technology that provides cooling rates of 15 F. Emcools is skin friendly , non toxic and environmentally friendly.
It actually worked really well during the race. Without freezer, it was hard to utilize their full potential and keep them extremely cold for 24h straight. My idea was to freeze the pads in the hotel the night before, then keep exchanging after each lap. A spare set was staying cold in a cooler.
During lap six and seven, I ended up stopping midway, laying down in the grass and pouring water on my head. Typical heat and humidity as we were racing by the coastline.The wind was so strong after around mile twelve. Smaller riders were having hard time staying upright. I was working really hard to maintain just 17 Mph on that section. The next few laps were in close proximity to Nancy. It was so nice to see her work. She is so tough and inspiring.
At the twelve hour mark, it was evident that I was behind schedule, having completed just 193 miles. The strategy was to wait for the temperature to get down and push harder during the night. My eight lap was the fastest since noon and I was making up time while flying with over 20 mph.
Well . . . at least until major rain storm appeared on the horizon. We took shelter by a farmhouse and waited. It was just too dangerous to race in these conditions. The rain was coming down strong , it was hard to see and be seen.
Very soon, things started to get really ugly. As we finished the lap, the organizer decided to stop the race due to the storm combined with strong lightning and thunderstorms. The race resumed 45 minutes later after the sky cleared up.
Surprisingly , my very reliable Exposure Race headlight decided to stop working and I was forced to use a backup flashlight / headlight. Not the best option in the rain. As we finished our next loop, we were told that the race is going to be interrupted again 😦 Another major storm was approaching. I was already thinking about stopping for the day after realizing that my 400 mile goal evaporated !
It was time to sleep and I got up around 1 am under the sound of raindrops. Apparently, the race was still on hold. I decided that this is enough and packed up. Nancy and John were also awake and packing as well.
Surprisingly, there was one racer with support car on the course. The race director actually decided to resume the race later on. Few riders expressed interest to finish, in order to achieve their desired goal. A goal likely well below 400 miles.
In the end, just one racer achieved 400 miles and 8 miles behind him was the second placed 24h solo rider. Everyone else finished with a little over 300 miles or below.
I managed to pedal 245 miles (to include 15 pro rated miles) in 12h59 minutes moving time and 15 hours total time. This was enough to win my age group, but the result is still disappointing.
Few observations from my Strava file below :
- Best 20 min speed – 22.9 mph
- Pedaling 92% of the time
- Cadence was low – 64 rpm
- Power numbers are inaccurate since I have no power meter. Those are Strava estimates.
Unfortunately, I am unable to come up with the budget for the World TT in Borego Springs and quite frankly , my fitness level is not where I need it to be for the Worlds. However, next year the goal is to prepare well and participate.
Congrats to Nancy and John Guth, finishing 3rd in the 24 hour Relay with 344 miles. Greg finished 2nd out of 12 racers in a very competitive age group with 175 miles. Andrea Matney was the second fastest Overall Female with 175 miles as well. Well done !