2019 Solo Race Report
I know that bike lovers and even non-athletes are curious to know how I prepare for these challenges. If this isn’t you, sorry this post is a bit long!
If you follow my events, 2019 marks the year of a race we have been working towards for a while now.By “we”, I mean J.L. Perez and I. The two of us are going to try to win and beat the cross country cycling record. The challenge is simple: less than 6 days and 10 hours to go from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland. A 32 km / h average over 5,000 kilometers. This race is called Race Across America (RAAM)
This challenge to me represents a combination of things that have driven me for a long time.
-> “The American Dream”. Who hasn’t dreamed of doing a cross country trip one day? Usually, people think about doing it by motorcycle or motorhome.
-> my passion for cycling-> my passion for pushing myself to new heights
-> sharing. With my friend J.L., our team, our family and friends who will follow us and all those near and far who encourage us to live our dream!
I will come back to this in later posts.
Competing in the 2019 Sebring 24 hour Cycling Race was clearly the first step in my training for the Race Across America. Preparation, in the broad sense of the term. Obviously physical, but in the end, that was the last reason.The main reason was to challenge myself mentally 💪🏻!
I know my strengths and weaknesses. The 24-hour Le Mans cycling races on a road bike with drafting is clearly my thing!
Sebring is a 24 hour cycling time trial race, no drafting and a excruciatingly monotonous. I’ve failed brutally on this type of race twice before, in 2016 and 2017 in Borrego Springs. To the point where, in 2018, I went back to attempt the 12 hour race!
I needed to prove that I could overcome my failures, for them and for me. That I am a warrior and that I will not give up on anyone!
My strategy for the beginning of this weekend in Sebring is to rise to the challenge! We leave at 6:30 am for 24h non-stop. No question of igniting at the beginning. Several categories start together. 12h / 24h drafting / 24h no drafting.
After 3 laps of the Sebring track where a group of 30 riders were riding together, we left the track for a 144 km loop. This loop is key because it does not allow for monotony. From the beginning, my strategy was replaced by my competitor’s instinct. I stand in the lead and test my opponents! 🤦🏻♂ 30 minutes after the start. I'm already ahead in every category.
I accept my position and fix a good pace for myself. The wind doesn’t help but with the aerodynamic position I hold a 37 - 40 km / h average. Around 70 km solo that pass very quickly before the U-turn where I can fill up my water bottle.
With the wind at my back I can maintain 50 km / h. I try to stay focused and calm. 🚴 ♂💨💨 After 4h15 we start the second loop. I find Karina and my supplies. I also see the gap growing between me and with my main opponent. Who is none other than Marko Baloh. Living ultra distance cycling legend. Holder of many records including this race. I know the myth. He's a warrior that won’t give up!
During the second loop of around 18km that we ride for 8-9 hours, the gap is widening second by second. The wind comes from the side, sometimes the front, rarely from the back 💨🤔🤔!I cannot relax for a single second. No stopping except once to relieve myself and to take off my aero shoe covers. My feet were starting to burn and swell. 👣🔥. Weather checkpoint: It will reach 28 degrees max.
These are good conditions.
1 second stop to add lights before nightfall. Supplies are added on the fly with Karina who is becoming an expert at that 👌🏼
Hour 12, we enter the Sebring track. With over 460 km behind us. The fatigue is clearly present but my legs are still turning. It's my neck that’s bothering me.I am surprised by the bad condition of this legendary track! There are areas with concrete slabs that add holes and bumps. The exhaustion and the CLM bike start weighing on my neck, shoulders and eventually the bike seat pains kick in!
It's going to be long and I have to stick with it until daybreak! Karina updates me on the gaps. I only have a one and a half lap lead. 15 minutes. In front of Marko isn’t a lot! The track change and loop time did not play in my favor. I lost my lead "artificially".
But I remain focused. I use my experience on this type of track to alternate “pushing myself to the limit” laps with "buying time for free stops". There are 10 hours left, 1 and a half lap lead and I have about 1 hour’s worth of food and water left. Stopping is out of the question when I only have a one lap lead ! I’m going to push myself for 1 hour to gain a second lap lead and distance myself even further after passing Marko to give myself another free pit stop! I have time to recharge, change counters, glasses and even pee !! I leave right behind him, 1 power lap and I’m 2 laps ahead.
Approximately 9h left and I try to stay focused. It’s really windy. The track doesn’t let you catch your breath ! The hours crawl by. The 16 hour mark is always the hardest part of the race. Another 8h!Even I can’t reassure myself that everything is normal!I can’t help but think about everything that lasts 8 hours and seems like forever. Crossing France by car, crossing the Atlantic by plane, certain insomniac nights and work days! 😱😱
But I take each lap one at a time and concentrate on my performance.
Sticking to my pace to keep my distance with the number two and thinking about the race record. My legs are responding. The cramps are now coming from my belly, neck, lower back and as everyone assumes: the seat! I tell myself that I’m going to have to continue working on strengthening my core and managing my calorie intake. These stomach pains are slowing me down and I'm sure it's due to poor food management. 70% liquid. And every time I add solids the cramps come back. Back to work 👨🏻💻 !
Hour-4 is my last mini stop. In total, I think I took a 4 minute break over the 24h. Now I’m focusing on a possible record but no time for relaxing!Karina (and Kooper) who have been there since the beginning give me my times. It's going to be very tight. I do the numbers in my head and I think I have a 4-5 km lead on the record. It's not much over 4h after 20h of cycling!
Despite the cramps, I try to maintain the aerodynamic position.My body is in pain! Surprisingly, my legs bother my the least! Probably because they’re moving?? 🤔
Like everything in life ! 💡We often "philosophize" when we’re bored 🙃 !
The last hour, no room for error! Just hold out til the end. (Averaging at 33-34 km / h)The last lap is "my" lap !
I give it everything I’ve got and my emotions are intense! The fatigue probably. Also this pride of having fought, seeing the race through to the end and achieving a new record!
I am proud to have become what I am today. An ordinary guy attempting the extraordinary!