The Goal: Set a new Recumbent Road Bike Course Record on the Cruzbike Vendetta V20c
For the last couple of years I have been considering racing the in the 6-12-24 Hour World Time Trial Championships in Borrego Springs California. Cruzbike riders own many of the recumbent records, but my husband Jim saw a gaping hole in the women’s records (note we are recruiting women to race Cruzbikes, if you have an interest, email me!). I’ve given up 24 hour racing, but decided this was my year to attempt 12 hours in the Borrego Springs race. The overall course record of 258 miles seemed a very high goal for me at 59, but I hoped I could set a new recumbent record. The standing record, set by Sandy Earl, was 188 miles.
Getting to the Starting Line: Packing and Travel
Going to Borrego Springs, CA to race is challenging for us. East coast races allow us to throw everything we need in the car with all the back-up equipment we can think of. We had to fly to California which meant packing everything in airline approved containers. Fortunately we own B&W Bike Guard Curv bike cases. These are wonderful hardshell airline bike cases. They easily fit the Cruzbike V20c (and Cruzbike S40 and Cruzbike V20) with plenty of spare room for anything else we might need. However, once we packed it all up, we realized it would be considered over-weight. We decided to keep it under 50 pounds, so we moved some of the heavier gear into another checked bag. On Delta, flying the bike case cost us the normal checked bag fee of $30, the additional checked bag fee was $30 as well. For $60 we were able to carry everything we could possibly need in the allotted 100 pounds of bike, gear and clothing which also included all my nutritional needs, and clothing for the additional week we planned to stay in California after the race.
Training and Bicycle Preparation
In the months leading up to the race my job was to train and Jim’s job was to get the bike ready to go as fast as possible on the relatively flat desert course. I hired the amazing Amanda Coker to be my coach. I made this decision relatively late, but in 2 and ½ months Amanda helped me improve my fitness significantly and her advice on recovery, sleep, rest and nutrition as well as her encouragement were game changing.
Meanwhile Jim set the bike up with a 1x system with SRAM Force eTap AXS 1x 12-speed with 10-28 cassette, 44T elliptical chainring and Rotor Aldhu with Inspider power meter. The handlebar was a 42 cm aluminum road bar. The drive wheel is a 700c Flo AS 77 (77mm rim depth) with centerlock disk brakes with 25 mm tubeless tires (Conti 5000). The non-drive wheel is a 700c full disk carbon fiber tubeless compatible with centerlock disk brakes available from Cruzbike.com, with 25 mm tires (Conti 5000).
Given the very rough road conditions in the desert, it may have been better to run 28mm or even 32mm tires, but these were not available for purchase when we were preparing for the race.
We did lots of aero testing on a 4 mile loop near our house in Newbury, MA and tweaked the bike to be as fast as it could be.
I had one serious set-back in my training in the form of a bad virus that kept me from training for a week and sapped my energy and power for at least 3 weeks. That finally resolved about a month before the race. I did everything I could to help my body recover faster. I ate lots of protein, took various supplements including magnesium and potassium and fish oil. I tracked my sleep with my Oura ring to make sure I was getting plenty of deep, restful sleep. I got massages, ate as healthfully as possible, eschewed alcohol of any kind, and even used a portable sleeping-bag like infrared sauna nightly.
It was hard to predict how I would do. I did most of my training on an indoor trainer with Zwift. When I rode outside, the rides were rolling to hilly, but a 100 mile time trial 3 weeks before the race indicated that I would probably not be able to hold the 22 mph I would need to take the overall course record. However, I was still feeling confident that I could get the recumbent record. The next goal up was the 50-59 age group record of 222 miles set by Daniela Genovesi on a traditional bike in 2019. As is typical for me, I was very nervous in the weeks leading up to our departure. My friend Larry Oslund prayed for me and encouraged me through some of those worries.
Arrival in California and Shakeout Ride
We arrived in Desert Springs about 1 and ½ hours by car from Borrego Springs on Wednesday evening before the Saturday race. We had a time share condo there with lots of room for Jim to put the bike together. We drove down to the race course in Borrego Springs on Thursday morning intending for me to ride the 18 mile long loop and make sure everything was right with the bike. Unfortunately, it was very cold and rainy that morning. We didn’t want to get the bike wet and gritty. Instead, we drove the long loop and the short 4 mile loop in the car so I could be familiar with it. We then drove back north near the Salton Sea where it was dry. I rode about 9 miles along the Salton Sea. We made some small adjustments to the bike and I practiced with our communication system (my cell phone attached to a wired earbud). The bike was comfortable and performing well.
On Friday we drove back down to Borrego springs where we met up with our friend Ben Tomblin and Cliff Federspiel and his family. Cliff was doing the 24 hour race on his Cruzbike V20.
We also met John Chapman, a Cruzbike rider who along with his wife, on a traditional bike, were doing the 24-hour race.
We hung around for the 5 pm start of the 24-hour race and then went to bed at our hotel Hacienda Del Sol just a block from the race course. I laid out all my clothing and the bike was ready to go.
The 12-hour race started at 5 am. My alarm went off at 3:15 and I began doing my pre-race prep which included covering myself with sunscreen, braiding my hair and dressing in tight layers. The starting temperature was in the 40s and it was expected to get near 80. Jim worked on final touches on the bike. I’d planned to ride the bike to the start. Just 30 minutes before race start time Jim said, “I’ve got bad news, your rear wheel is flat.” We’d decided not to bring a spare wheel, but Jim had thrown in a tube at the last minute. Both tires were set up as tubeless, so the tube was an emergency back-up plan. Jim threw the bike in our rented minivan and said, “Call Ben, I’m going to need help.” Ben was already at the starting area and as I held the flashlight he and Jim quickly put the tube in the rear tire and blew it up. Ben’s expertise and speed allowed me to roll up to the starting line just as the gun went off.
I was nervous and uptight on the first lap. I didn’t have the same confidence in the bike. I felt slow and I wondered if anything was rubbing. It seemed like everyone was passing me. On the back half of the loop, I settled down a bit, but called Jim about 15 minutes from the pit area and asked him to check out the bike. He and Ben confirmed the wheel was spinning freely which gave me confidence. I had a little caffeine in the form of a chew and felt much better on the second lap. I settled into my pedals and power. It was still dark on the second lap, but my front light was bright enough so I had no problems with visibility. I did feel every bump on the road and found myself holding my head off the headrest during a lot of the loop. I could feel myself getting irritable from rough roads. They were much rougher than expected and brought back memories of the rough desert roads during my solo RAAM (Race Across America) nine years earlier.
After the 3rd lap I asked Ben and Jim to take air out of my rear wheel and that made all the difference. I was no faster, but I was much more relaxed and happy and was able to rest my head on the headrest with comfort. At this point I became sure that the 258 mile course record was out my grasp based on my average speed. However, I felt strong and my nutrition was keeping me energized. I set my sights on the recumbent record (188 miles) and the overall 50-59 age group record (222 miles).
Jim let me know that Cliff Federspiel had dropped out of the race after an incredibly strong start with 306 miles. One of his eyes had clouded over causing him to lose his ability to see the road. He had a mild wreck and prudently decided to withdraw. He later learned that he probably had a condition called Ultramarathon Associated Visual Impairment. Apparently this happens to ultra runners and riders and is caused by lactic acid build up in the cornea, causing the cloudy vision. It completely resolves with rest.
As the day and the laps went by I took off more and more clothing. I was doing steady loops at around 55 minutes. By the 8th loop, I was getting hot. I pulled in for a pitstop and drank some ice-cold flat coke, which tasted great, but probably was too much for my stomach all at once.
I pulled in on the 10th lap and asked the pit crew, which had now grown to include my daughter Genevieve from LA for some ice cold water. Genevieve also poured cold water on me. I felt better. At this point I knew I had the recumbent record and if I could just keep moving would have the 50-59 age group record. I finished 2 more 18 mile laps and was shunted onto the 4-mile loop. I did three of the 4.7 mile short loops with just a couple of minutes to spare in the 12 hours.
New records set on the fastest recumbent road bike
I finished the race with 230.4 miles, which was the female high mileage for the 12 hour this year. My average speed was 19.3 mph. I was 8th overall among the men and women. The goal of setting the recumbent and 50-59 age group records were met. Most challenging for me was the roughness of the roads and the nausea I experienced later in the race.
I had an incredible team in the form of my husband Jim who worked for months to get the bike set-up for me and was amazing support. Ben Tomblin was so terrific and I would not have started on-time without him. My lovely daughter Genevieve provided support and media for us too. The pictures and videos tell the real story and will help me remember. Thanks to Amanda Coker for her excellent coaching. It was wonderful to have the support of my Zwift team the Margaritas and the Cruzbike family (especially Hardy and Connie!). I’m deeply grateful for my daughter Lucia, my parents and Larry Oslund who support me spiritually and emotionally.
It was so fun to meet John Crawford who rode his Cruzbike V20 to complete 315.6 miles in the 24 hour and actually had fun doing it (no he did not do more miles than his incredible wife Laura!) It lifted my spirits to see Marshall Cooperson in his Cruzbike t-shirt toward the end of the day on Saturday.
He completed 109.2 miles on his Cruzbike V20 in the 6 hour on Sunday setting a recumbent record in his age group and tying the overall 70+ age group record. Want to see some video? Check out Cruzbike on Instagram.
Records and amazing performances held by Cruzbike recumbent road bikes at the Borrego Springs 6-12-24 Hour World Time Trial Championships:
6-Hour Time Trial Recumbent Records:
- Cliff Federspiel 145.2 miles 2019 (breaking Jim’s previous 127.2 miles in 2016).
- Marshall Cooperson 109.3 miles setting the 70+ recumbent record and tying the age group record, 2022.
12-Hour Time Trial Recumbent Record:
- Cliff Federspiel 272.4 miles in 2021 (breaking Kevin Gambill's previous 248.4 miles in 2016).
12-Hour Time Trial Recumbent Record and Overall 50-59 Age Group Record - Women:
- Maria Parker 230.4 miles in 2022
24-Hour Recumbent Time Trial Recumbent Record:
- Jason Perez 510 miles in 2016 and matched in 2017
-Maria Parker, Cruzbike CEO
Want to get in on the fun? The Cruzbike Vendetta V20c is in stock and available as a frameset and complete bike and ships worldwide from our website here. Join us.