My last race of the season. I switched to the 12h event while still recovering from back problems two weeks after the Psycho 12h. With the pain, 24h seemed like a bad idea. The Psycho 12h in NC was a success and I clocked 250 miles, new personal best. It gave me hope for good performance at WTTC and plus, being a shorter race, I could push harder and risk a little more!
This time, I was in California four days before the event after learning from past mistakes . . . I visited the hospital with Dr. Vince & Diane from Infinity bike seats. Huge thank you for supporting me and believing in me. We completed MRI & X Rays and discovered some good but also bad news. Dr. Vince is one of the best Chiropractors and started working on me immediately. By the 2nd day, I was already feeling a lot better and the pain has diminished significantly. His knowledge of the human body is impressive after 20+ years of experience. The fascinating part is that he also understands nutrition and once everything is applied together, the result is amazing. His office also have hyperbaric chamber & I encourage anyone to plan a visit !
Additionally, he is a bike fitter as well and adjusted my position. We also worked on pedaling technique with live data provided by the old & trustful Computrainer software. In any case, if you are in California, make sure to visit his office. Dr. Vince is very knowledgeable and like helping cyclists. Back to the race.
The desert can get cold at night and this year was no exception. The 12h race starts at 5 am, the sun was going to be out after the first two laps and the temperatures were to start climbing, I hoped 🙂 It is usually 10F lower than the forecast in the desert, ask me how I know ! Regardless, why use winter gloves & neoprene shoe covers, Ill just toughen it up right? Two heating pads went inside my gloves and I took off with the first wave. Huge thanks to Sakthi for helping me out. I’ve marked about five racers numbers I knew were going to be contenders to include the two other racers in my age group. I wrote the digits on the inside of my frame bag as I wanted to be aware during the race.
A day before the event was Marko Baloh social ride and luncheon sponsored by Inifinty Seat/ Spiegel Bikes.
Photo Credit – Irma Baloh
Marko Baloh giving riders final instructions- Photo Credit – Irma Baloh
What worked for me two weeks before this race in a 250 mile 12h performance was going to be applied again. Why change anything if my strategy & nutrition plan worked? One big difference was the non drafting factor. I don’t have to dig deep to stay with a group when someone attacks. While the 24h racers were on the course ( they started 5pm Friday), I had a good night sleep 🙂
The dilemma was, should I add some layers as nights are known to be cold? I decided to leave my winter gloves, shoe covers & leg warmers to be more aero 🙂 We do anything for speed, ahhh ! I was to wear camelback that is usually keeping my core temperature high & Sakti gave me some heating pads for my hands. There was one hour until we start and my buns were already freezing. Dr. Vince gave me few winter shirts, my jacket was on and I was sitting on a chair, shivering and anxious to start.
The gun went off at 5 am and we took off into the darkness. My goal was 50 to 55 minutes 18 mile laps but more like 50 if I wanted to get 250 miles. Ryan Collins & Eric Rosenstein took off ahead immediately, I kind of expected that. Few more racers slipped ahead until I noticed one of the two competing in my age category so I closed the gap and maintained. In the middle of the loop, I was able to take the lead and never looked back. It was cold but I was still fresh and full of adrenalin . . . and coffee ! The first lap was done in 50:27 ( 21.5 Mph)
Photo Credit – Irma Baloh
My 2nd and 3rd lap were completed in 52:10 & 53:22. I was feeling strong & averaging over 21 Mph. The temperature suddenly dropped to 35 F and people were having hard time. To top it off, my nose was bleeding. I looked at the standings ( one of 2 times during the race) and to my surprise, Ryan Collins was just 3 minutes ahead of me. As everyone might agree, nothing is decided until the end of the race and all I had to do was play my cards right. Apparently , he was really cold & had to stop and find a jacket to stay warm. Yes, you guessed right, dr. Vince gave him a jacket, what a kind person he is. My toes were a little cold but manageable.
My hands however were a bit useless, fingers frozen & I kind of gave up trying to get a bottle out of my cage. I ran out of water in the camelback and did 1/2 a lap without drinking. Opening energy bar wrappers turned into big adventure. Where are the cameras when you need them 🙂 ? I was feeding the birds more than being able to open or consume any of my food.
My right thigh muscle locked up for some time and it forced me to tone it down a bit. Maybe this was a godsend, restraining me from blowing up while pushing too hard. I was told to take some Zymex (promotes a healthy pH range in the intestinal tract) but managed to drop my bag on the ground. Luckily, it was there on the next lap, a bit crushed but who cares. This was one of the two instances when I actually stopped during the race. The other was to retrieve dropped bottle, total stoppage time ~ 5 seconds!
I wasn’t really warming up as fast as expected even with the sum being out. The next lap was completed in 54:27, the slowest so far! Somebody passed me that I knew was in contention for the overall standings and I stayed behind. He was a bit larger than me and I was able to pass him on the little climb towards the end. This repeated about 3 to 4 times. Eventually, I was able to shake him off and never see him again. My buddy Mike Garcia on the other hand passed me on Lap two and was gone. Our abilities are very similar and I was trying to slowly increase my speed and catch up. As I told him at the start, he better not stop or I will catch him, my plan included no stoppage time 🙂
Lap 5 was a little better and I finished in 53:40. This was promising sign as I felt much better, warmer and faster. There was no pain other than my right thigh but lets hope it will loosen up soon. My average speed was dropping about 0.1 per lap and at this rate, it will be hard to finish with 20 Mph but I was trying my hardest. This speed can give me 240 miles but only if I am able to fit the exact amount of short laps into the 12h as only full laps count.
I was sort of consistent on the next 5 laps and even improving on lap 9 and 10. Last two laps were a bit slower as fatigue was knocking on the door with no care about me & the wind was increasing. It was slow grind up the last section with some climbing even with just 7 to 10 mph wind. After that, I was flying at 28 mph on the downhill section into Christmas Circle.
Lap 6 56:07
Lap 7 56:41
Lap 8 57:13
Lap 9 56:40
Lap 10 55:30
Lap 11 57:52
Lap 12 56:15
The crowd at the finish line was now building as we were transferred to the short loop. They were screaming from the top of their lungs and it made for a great racing atmosphere. I entered the loop around 4:02 pm. In my head , I though that it was 4 miles, but in reality , it was 4,8 miles. Time for more math – 4 miles times 4 is 16. So basically, I need to average ~ 14.5 minute laps to go 4 times around this circle, check !
The wind was in our favor here and we were almost done and racing on adrenaline. First lap was completed in 13:34 so I was in good shape , 13:42 on the second. . . I though that I got 30 minutes for two laps and at 4 miles, I was in good shape for two laps and no chance of third? Remember though, It is 4.8 miles 🙂 My next lap was at 15:42 and I realized after looking at my GPS that I don’t even know the length of it 🙂
Dr. Vince was at the turnaround and was screaming my name each lap, it made me move faster for sure 🙂 Please dont mind my poor pedaling technique in the turn , its really why i received these pictures from him 🙂
15 minutes left for 4.8 miles, can I do it ? I went all out and had my fastest short loop at 13:22 (21.2 Mph) & 1 minute to spare on the clock, it was a close one. At the end, I managed to win my Age Category & Finish 7th Overall in the category and 11th Overall ( including teams). My buddy Mike finished with the same mileage 5 minutes ahead. The average speed actually increased by 0.2 in the last two hours of the race. I cannot be unhappy with my performance and 235.2 miles covered !
Special thanks to Infinity Bike Seat & Spiegel bikes. Infinity have been fundamental in my success. The Infinity Seat Bib Shorts performed really good as they are designed specifically for their seats. The race cut jersey was obviously super fast while combined with Nopinz Speedpocket.
For the data geeks:
As evident from the charts below, I was able to deliver more power than when I raced 250 miles drafting two weeks before this race. 10 watts more is actually substantial and 63 % intensity is something I should very happy with. My HR was the same but I had no reason to peak at 180 this time around to keep up with people attacking from the group. I burned 600 extra calories and emptied my tank.
Yes, I had about 8 meals in the 24h following the race after burning over 7000 calories. Making the last short loop with 1 minute left on the clock was just the icing on the cake ! Onto 2023 we go !
If you are willing to help me race Race Across the West , please check this LINK and Thanks to everyone that has been part of my journey !