National 24-Hour Challenge in Michigan
June 23, 2012/ Jim Parker
Where: Middleville, Michigan
When: 16-17 June 2012
What: The 30th Annual National 24-Hour Challenge
This is my ride report from my FIRST ever 24-hour event.
The race began at 8:00 am with over 300 cyclists at the start, making this considerably larger than Bike Sebring or any other race I’ve done before. I followed Jim (JV) Verheul’s lead as he raced out front on his Bacchetta. Maria stayed very close for the first couple of miles, and was actually ahead of me when I saw her pull off the road with a mechanical issue. I asked her if she needed help and she said “no” so I kept going. I found out later that her chain had slipped off the cassette and jammed. By the time she got back on the road, all 310 riders had passed her and she was alone.
EARLY IN THE RACE, STILL BUNCHED UP. I’M NEAR THE FRONT.
JV and I gradually pulled away from the main pack, working with a group of about five diamond frame (DF) riders. I was actually the first person in to the first two checkpoints, at mile 34.4 and 71.5, respectively. But during these first 75 miles, I mainly road with the pack, only going out front when I was feeling good. I loved the rollers, and would often pass the whole group going UP short hills.
I LOVE THE ROLLERS!
Then it was time for me to have a mechanical. At about mile 79, we were descending a very rough stretch of road and I hit a pothole at 35 mph. I was carrying my spare tube, tire levers, CO2 cartridges, etc., in a tennis ball container bungeed to a bottle cage on my backrest. The force of the impact launched the container out of the cage and the bungee cord went into my rear spokes. I had to stop and untangle it. By the time I was back on the road, JV and the lead pack were out of sight. I was on my own.
An hour or two later I fell in with a band of happy DF cyclists that were moving much less swiftly than the lead pack, but with the increasing heat of the day, the pace was more reasonable. We passed JV on the side of the road as he was fixing a flat. I kept plugging along, occasionally spraying myself down with cold water to stay cool, and forcing myself to drink. The temperature probe on my Garmin registered over 100F for portions of over four hours in the afternoon. A number of riders fell victim to the heat and had to stop. Between about 3:00 and 5:00 pm, the winds picked up to 15-20 mph and cooled things down somewhat.
HOT, HOT, HOT! (DATA FROM MY GARMIN, CROSSING THE 100F MARK)
By the evening, I was back in top contention. I had stayed on the 23.7 mile loop a bit longer than most everyone else. The race organizers put up a listing of “daytime” miles and I had more than anyone. Then sometime in the wee hours, I “ran out of gas”…. or more accurately, glycogen. My mental edge and power faded dramatically. I had stayed in my 52T “big-ring” the whole race, but all of a sudden, I needed to use my 39T chain ring to make it up the little short hill on the 7.5 mile loop.
A LOOK AT THE ELEVATION PROFILE FOR THE FIRST 300 MILES
That’s when Maria caught me and passed me. I felt like the highly processed maltodextrins, Gatorade, energy bars, etc., just weren’t working for me anymore. In addition, after being quiet since the evening, the winds picked up more fiercely than ever, with gusts of up to 35 mph.
MARIA AT 3:00 AM IS AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE OF NATURE, LIKE THE WIND.
AT EACH CHECKPOINT, A VOLUNTEER PUNCHES THE MILEAGE CARD ON OUR BACK.
This went on from 2:30 to 5:00 am. I was taking a break in the Cruzbike tent when I discovered that we had milk and home-made granola . I ate a big bowl and my energy came back. I felt like Sampson with long hair again. I had just about given up on making the goal of setting the husband-wife record, but with my new-found strength, I set out with fresh determination and cranked out about five more 7.5 mile laps than I thought possible.
REJUVENATED AT DAWN, GOING FOR THE HUSBAND-WIFE RECORD.
Maria and I road only the last lap together and crossed the finish holding hands. We had done over 800 combined miles, comfortably breaking the 773 mile record set by John and Nancy Guth of Stafford, Virginia in 2005. The heat during the day and the occasional high winds were challenging. With over 8200 feet of climbing and frequent checkpoints with mandatory stopping, this was not a course that we could fly through. As usual, Maria turned in an amazing performance despite the mechanical. I was the first male recumbent finisher, and 10th among all the men. Maria beat all the women (recumbent or otherwise), winning a really nice silver bowl.
MARIA AND OVERALL MALE WINNER COLLIN JOHNSON GET SILVER BOWLS
I’d like to thank our wonderful crew, consisting of sons Will and Steven, and nephew Kent. They only missed me at one checkpoint. I’ll forgive them for that because they were taking care of Maria at the time. I’d also like to thank the event organizers and volunteers. This event was truly well run. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to challenge themselves with a 24-hour effort. Thanks also to Cruzbike Design Director John Tolhurst. We put in our share of effort and training for this event, but the results far exceed our meager talents. The Vendetta is an amazing speed machine, and a great joy to ride on the open road.
Below are the official distances for all recumbent riders that competed in the event.
name miles category city state
MARIA PARKER 407.9 REC-F LUMBERTON NC
JAMES PARKER 397.6 REC-M LUMBERTON NC
KENNETH LANTEIGNE 326.5 REC-M COLUMBUS IN
GEOFF MADDEN 251.5 REC-M PLYMOUTH MI
ROBERT PALMER 229 REC-M WALLED LAKE MI
DAVID H TOWNS 205.3 REC-M BELVIDERE IL
JIM VERHEUL 169 REC-M WESTLAKE VILLAGE CA
BILL A SCHWARZ 92.8 REC-M KINDERHOOK NY
HUSBAND-WIFE AWARDS. MAYBE IN MY CASE IT SHOULD BE “WIFE-HUSBAND”?
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