February 18, 2016/ Maria Parker
Last Saturday morning dawned with perfect weather predicted for the Sebring 12 hour race. By the time I’d positioned my bike at the starting line, I’d already had a great weekend. Arriving Friday afternoon in the parking lot of the Chateau Elan Hotel adjacent to the racetrack, we immediately connected with many of our ultra cycling friends that we hadn’t seen since last year. After changing and unloading the car, we took an easy turn around the 11 mile loop with a group on Cruzbikes and other bents. Afterward we stood around and talked about our bikes and admired each other’s bikes: the set-ups, bags, and personalized flourishes on each. It reminded me of the way the local teenagers park their trucks together in a nearby parking lot comparing their latest chrome bumpers, oversized tail pipes and decals.
Six Cruzbikes and their riders (plus one) took a warm up lap on Friday. We had so much fun.
We caught up with friends. This is Paul (who also raced 12-hours) and me.
Jim and I signed up for the race (I for the 12-hour, Jim for the Century) and did some last minute shopping, getting in the bed early enough to get a good night’s sleep.
My race plan was to have fun. I rode the Silvio S30 instead of the Vendetta V20 so that I could be more upright and enjoy the social aspects of the race. I also wanted to test out my new eating plan to see if the nausea that has plagued me in past races might be improved. Finally I was trying a prototype of a new Cruzbike accessory, a carbon fiber case to hold bottles and gear behind my head. It’s extremely beautiful and functional – watch our website for more on it in coming weeks.
The start of the race was a little jittery for me, I’m always nervous on the 3 darkish racetrack laps, but I settled down quickly when Hardy Swinson joined me on his Cruzbike V20. We rode together on the race track and for the first 45 miles of the race. Hardy is a longtime enthusiastic customer and it was a treat for me to get to know him a bit during the race.
Hardy and me.
Happy to be heading off the track out to the long loop.
As predicted, the weather was excellent with little wind and warming temperatures. Unfortunately, I lost my riding buddy when Hardy had a flat and encouraged me to ride on without him. I rode with several groups during the first 100 miles and enjoyed every moment of it. I especially loved seeing Rob White, a personal hero of mine, who raced RAAM for 3000 Miles to a Cure last year. I was also delighted to see some of his crew, Sarah Cooper (who crushed the 24 hour women’s record this year) and Alex Hernandez who was at the 100 mile turnaround. It’s difficult to express how close I got to these people during last summer’s RAAM, seeing them filled me with joy. I knew many of the racers and enjoyed saying hello to them throughout the day.
Rob White is a hero of mine. Seeing him and members of his Race Across America 2015 crew was so wonderful.
After finishing the 100 mile portion of the ride in a decent 4 hours 41 minutes, I started into the 11 mile loops. That portion of the ride is always challenging, but my stomach mostly felt pretty good and I enjoyed it more than I usually do. I rode a couple of laps with my coach Jim Verhuel who then went on at a quicker pace and ended up with a great race.
Passing through the support area on the 11-mile loop.
Near the end of the race, the transition back to the track was a welcome change. The sunset on the track is beautiful and you get to see your crew and the other racers more frequently. I easily did 3 loops in the remaining time. At the finish, I pulled gratefully into the pit area with 241 miles for the 12 hours
Sunset, pedaling through the last track loops of the day.
Five days later, I’m still enjoying memories, like the delicious aftertaste of a good meal. The more upright body position and rear suspension of the Silvio brought back to mind the feeling of riding on a magic carpet. The beautiful orange groves and gentle terrain of Central Florida,and the pleasure of seeing so many friends capped it off. My crew this year was terrific. My daughter Lucia Parker and friend (and Cruzbike Designer) Jacob Bouchard did a terrific job encouraging me and keeping me stocked with everything I asked for, even when they didn’t have it. Once again, I find myself so grateful for the opportunity to ride and sell bikes and for all the wonderful adventures and relationships I enjoy through Cruzbike and Ultracycling.
Larry, Hardy, me, Kevin, Jim and Paul at the first awards ceremony. Kevin’s performance on the V20 set new records and merited a standing ovation.