February 17, 2015/ Maria Parker
Sebring has become a favorite race of ours. It’s fairly local (by ultra-racing standards), usually there’s decent weather, knowing Sebring is coming keeps us on our bikes and training through the winter and most importantly, we get to see so many friends.
Even more exciting for Cruzbike , we had Larry Oslund, Ben Tomblin and Charlie Ollinger all competing on Vendettas. Ben and Larry were doing the 24 hour RAAM qualifier and Charlie was doing the 12 hour with me. Jim was doing the 100. I don’t think we’ve ever had so many Cruzbikes in a race. To make is even more of a party, customer and friend Gary Christopher came down with Larry to crew.
We arrived in Florida a week early and did the Human Powered Racing Association Races in Pembroke Pines Florida the previous weekend hosted by Vite Bikes and Catrike. We had a a really fun time. Jim wrote about it in his blog post Florida HPRA results. Charlie Ollinger did really well on his Cruzbike mash-up and Jim stole the show with the trike prototype.
During the intervening week we enjoyed the beautiful beaches near Melbourne Florida and the hospitality of the local cycling groups. Marshall Reeves of Infinity Bike Shop offered to come to Sebring with some strong DF riders and help us do a fast first 100.
Every race is an opportunity to raise money for brain cancer research, and this race was particularly exciting because we were using Google Glass to take video and pictures giving our followers at 3000 Miles to a Cure, a close up look at what the racer experiences. Also a new application allowed us to read messages of encouragement from people donating to the cause. I wore Google Glass in the 12 hour, and Rob White, who is doing RAAM in 2015 for 3000 Miles to a Cure on an traditional bike, wore them in the 24 hour race. Unfortunately Rob had an accident at mile 70 of the race and broke his collar bone. He then spent the rest of the day and night supporting other riders including me. Rob is an incredible rider and person and will be back stronger than ever for RAAM 2015.
The start of a group race is always difficult for me. I like to start slow and build up speed. However, in order to have a chance at an excellent performance, I knew I’d have to go out with the front group for a quick 100. With some encouragement from my coach Jim (JV) Verhuel and Jim, I set out to overcome my fear and get quickly off the starting line with the testosterone set. Part of that group included Jim and JV on a Bachetta as well as another very strong rider, Kevin Gambill, who is was riding a Bachetta, for only the fourth time.
The start went off flawlessly and I was with the front group on the track and easily stayed with them until about mile 40, 10 miles from the 100 mile turn around. At that point, the pace seemed to have slowed. Jim pulled up to the front, but the riders on traditional bikes were hanging back. I finally joined him out ahead of the group just before the turn around to remind him to get his chip out to drop in the bucket. We both had our chips out and slowed down at the U-turn, but the riders behind us were unaware of the U-turn and a traffic jam ensued. I went down briefly and lost my chain, but was able to quickly get back up and catch up with the group.
The return of the 100 mile segment seemed to go quickly, but not quickly enough for Jim, who had a goal of doing a sub 4 hour century. He and JV and Kevin and I eventually found our way to the front of the pack and JV got the four of us organized into a rotating pace line. We started to put space between our little group and the bigger group behind us. We sailed through the last 10 miles or so. Just as we got near the 100 mile finish a few of the larger pack started to catch up with us, but Jim Parker finished the century first in 4 hours and 14 minutes.
I was energized because I knew I had a good start on a fast 12 hour. I stopped briefly for a new set of Google Glass and a some calories and then started on the first of the 11 mile daytime loops and eventually regrouped with JV and Kevin. We worked together for a couple of laps. Into the second lap JV had a flat tire and yelled for Kevin and I to go ahead. He rejoined us on the next lap. Kevin developed a leg cramp and dropped back a little but JV stayed with me for that lap and one more. He let me know what the record was and encouraged me to stay strong, then he dropped off at the pit area and I was on my own. I knew if I could manage to hold about 20 mph, I would be close to getting the record. I hoped that I could find another rider or two to work with, but I ended up doing the next 110 miles working alone. I passed a lot of riders, but never saw Ben, Larry or Charlie, so I figured they were on the opposite side of the loop from me and were doing very well.
My crew did a great job of keeping me fed and hydrated especially my daughter Lucia, Jim andGary. I read messages of encouragement on my Google Glass from supporters all over the country and from the Cruzbike family. Each note boosted my mood. I’m also so grateful for the support of many who yelled out encouragement on the course.
As I began the last daytime loop, I felt good about the steady effort. I did two final laps on the Sebring race track and finished with just about a minute on the clock. The crew let me know I’d eked out a new female record for the 12 hour and that the 3000 Miles to a Cure team had raised over $2000 for brain cancer research. Don Appel, finished with the same mileage I did, though a few minutes ahead of me. I tried to catch him, but he’s incredibly strong.
I had the honor of watching the last few hours of the 24 hour event with incredible performances from Ben and Larry. Both easily qualified for RAAM and were gracious ambassadors for Cruzbike as well. Charlie developed a knee problem and had to stop after the first 100, but then spent the rest of the night crewing for Larry and others. Thanks so much to Ben, Larry, Charlie and Gary. You guys rock!