Friday, September 10, 2010

Iowa 24 hour Race

The annual Ultra Midwest 24 was held Labor Day weekend outside of Port Byron Illinois. Four of the last five years I have competed in this exceptionally run event put on by the Ultra Midwest (Big Dogs) group led by Dave Parker and Joe Jamison. The race includes 6,12 and 24 hour options on lightly travelled roads in western Illinois.

As the race started the 50 participants, which included 11-24 hour, 28-12 hour and 11-6 hour entrants, were clad in tights and long sleeves to combat the crisp 6:30 AM temperatures. This would provide a nice break from the oppressive heat the area has experienced over the summer. All riders start together with the 24 hour riders separating themselves from the others in the first couple miles. The 24 hour ride is non-drafting while the other two races allow drafting.

The route: This years route consisted of a new, flat as a pancake, 60 mile long loop, an intermediate 19.6 mile loop, and a short 8 mile loop. The 60 mile loop closes at 2:00 PM for the 12 and 24 hour rides so each rider completes as many laps as you can before the cut-off. You then proceed to the intermediate loop. The intermediate loop closes at 5:00 PM or AM depending on which race you have entered. After 5:00 riders finish on the short loop. The 6 hour group completes one long loop before riding the intermediate and short loops as needed.

The Game Plan: The last three times I have entered the 24 hour race my mileage has been 300, 408 and then 431. The 300 mile total I stopped at midnight the other two I rode all night. The goal for this year was 450 miles. To accomplish this total I would have to average 19.2 on the bike and only be off the bike for 30 minutes total. This was a pretty lofty goal but one I thought was attainable. With my wife Connie as head crew member and son Chris and his girl-friend Chelsey helping during the daylight hours the limited time off the bike was not going to be a problem. They do a great job of keeping me fed and watered. Going in I had a great pacing and nutrition strategy that I was very confident success was attainable.


Blustery Day as Pooh would put it: The forecast for the day was cool and breezy with winds out the west-north-west at 15-20. This was going to make the long loops a little tougher with the last 20 miles each lap going west and north. Even though the route was flat, I mean really flat, ,the biggest hill between mile 5 and 55 was an overpass, the road surfaces were rough. By the third time around the expansion cracks felt like a jackhammer hitting your rear, arms and feet each time you crossed them. During this stretch I opted for a few sanity breaks just to rest my jarred body. I was extremely glad to make it back to the school to start the intermediate loops. Even though the wind was still blowing the hardest head wind stretch was only 4 miles.

Off the big loops as last: I started the intermediate loops at 3:50. Total miles ridden was 180 in 9:50 with an  average on the bike of 19.6 mph. Time off the bike had totaled 7 minutes. The goal was to ride 13 of the intermediate loops in the next 14 hours. I would have to keep the pace around 19 mph on the bike and limit my stops to 1-2 minutes per lap. I was feeling good and settled in to the task at hand. Riding, eating and drinking was all I had to do. At 7:15 I was off the bike for 5 minutes while put on tights, arm warmers, reflective vest, head-light and tail light. Putting the tights on took the longest. I still had my light shoe covers on from the chilly morning start hoping that would save time as the temperatures dropped. While I was getting dressed Chris put on the lights, Connie refilled my bottles and bento box and I ate a fresh off the grill hamburger. The last three times I have done this event my crew has grilled as the sun set. This was the first year I was able to partake in the cuisine. It went down really well.

Reality Check: Thing were going pretty well until the lap around midnight. I was on pace to finish with about 435. The early wind had dashed any hopes for 450. I had lapped the second place rider (Paul Carpenter) at 11:00 PM which put me 20 miles ahead. Paul is the RAAM rider I did support for this year plus we have compete against each other several time so we are pretty familiar with each other. I slowed for breif chat as I made the pass. This gave me a little boost but by 12:30 AM I was starting to hurt. The energy level was great, I had not cramped (which is a first for this race), my stomach felt fine but my rear, arms, neck, back and shoulders were stiff and sore. This was making it very uncomfortable to be on the bike. I was stretching a lot and sitting up trying, in vain to find a way to relief the aching muscles. I headed back out at 1:00 after an 8 minutes stop. During this long stop I started to get chilly as the temperatures had dropped back into the mid-fifties. I really could have used a longer break but knew I would be shivering if I did. That lap took 1:27 minutes to complete as I rolled in at 2:27 AM. During that lap I had shut down and knew my night was going to end early. I could not fathom 4 more hours on that infernal machine.
Stats: 356.3 miles in 20 hours. 38 total minutes off the bike. 18.4 average speed. First in my age group second overall. Here is the link to the complete results.

Food and Drink:
7- 20 oz Perpetuams @ 280 cal each
4 - Ensures
1-20 oz Gaterade
2-20 oz Sobe's
14 chocolate chip cookies
12 power gels
Cheese Stick
2 Chicken Salad Sandwich
5 pringles
Beef Jerky
3 Pasta shells stuffed with chicken salad
2 dill pickles
Grilled Hamburger
2 cups of chicken broth

A big thanks to Connie, Chris and Chelsey for keeping me moving and to Dave and Joe, there wives and the other volunteers who made this a great event. I will give my body a break from the super long riding for a while and just enjoy the fall season before making plans for next years adventures.

1 comment:

Tim said...


I didn't know how to contact you, but I wanted to make sure you saw the news about Jure. Very sad.

Tim Lucas
MHS '81