Recumbent Records Fall at the Texas Time Trials
September 25, 2017/ Jim Parker
The Texas Time Trials are held in Glen Rose, Texas each year. The course is a hilly 26.5 mile loop. In my event, the “6-hour Shoot Out”, I rode 5 laps for 132.5 miles and my Garmin/Strava reported 7,969 feet of elevation gain. That’s 1,594 feet per lap. This is a great event to experience Texas weather (hot and windy) and Texas roads (rough). The organizers of the event are recumbent friendly, but the course is NOT considered recumbent friendly.That’s exactly why Team Cruzbike was there, to see how we stack up against standard bikes on a gritty Texas road course. We also wanted to capture as many recumbent records as we could.
The elevation profile for one 26.5 mile lap at the Glen Rose, Texas event.
It’s a long way to travel to Glen Rose from North Carolina. We wanted to get the most bang for the buck, so Maria drove the Cruzbike Ford E350 van packed with the big Cruzbike tent and four V20’s for four racers from NC. At Dallas Love Airfield, she picked up Jason Perez, who had flown in from California, and added a 5th V20 to the van. I also flew in to Dallas because I couldn’t get the time off from my hospital job to help Maria drive. Jason, Maria, and I got to visit and catch up during the 1.5 hour drive from the airport to Glen Rose.
This was not my first trip to Glen Rose, and I had a score to settle. Both of my existing recumbent records, the 1-lap Sprint and the 6-hour, had been broken at the event last year by Steve Olsen and Rich Putich, respectively. See what can happen if you don’t show up to defend your records?
Since I couldn’t ride two events, I registered for the 6-hour and left the 1-lap record in the hands of a new North Carolina V20 owner who had never raced it before, Alvin Maxwell. Alvin and Larry Oslund rounded out the Cruzbike Team from North Carolina.
When I originally set the 6-hour recumbent record in 2011, I stopped after 4 laps and didn’t take advantage that you can ride a 5th lap, and your distance in that lap will be prorated for 6-hours based on your average speed. Rich Putich did that 5th lap last year and moved the record from 106 to 110 miles.
The locals said the wind and the heat for the races this year were worse than usual, so I was worried about our ability to take back the records. 15 minutes before the start, I rode to the starting line and checked that my skewers were tight on the dropouts and the brakes were working properly. I rode the same yellow/gold V20 that I rode in RAAM, with TRP disk brakes in the front and FSA rim brakes in the rear. Gearing was 50/36 chainrings with an 11-speed 11-32 cassette, SRAM Red ETap shifters and a medium cage rear derailuer. Wheels: tubeless Boyd 700c with 60 mm rims. Tires were 25 mm Schwalbe Pro One with 75 psi. I carried three bottles, two with ice water and one with electrolytes and/or some calories. I also carried a cell phone to contact SAG if I had a mechanical.
During the first lap, I went out fast, wanting the satisfaction of beating Steve Olsen’s 1-lap recumbent record (1:11:22) on my first lap. I crossed the timing strip at 1:10:32. Check!
The heat began building up in my body on the second lap. Occasionally a puffy white cloud would float by and obscure the sun, giving a few moments of relief. Riding into a headwind also gave some relief from the heat. The worst combination for heat occurred when climbing with a tailwind. I was keeping an eye on my average speed for each lap. Putich’s record speed was 18.42 mph, riding a Bacchetta CA2. I averaged 22.5 mph and 21.7 mph for my first two laps… off to a good start to break the record.
Rich Putich on his Bacchetta CA2.
On the 3rd lap, both of my quadriceps began to cramp. I had to stop for a couple of minutes and poured some cold water on them, which seemed to help. I was happy to see that my average speed for the 3rd lap was still a respectable 20.0 mph. Unless I had a mechanical or got hit with more severe cramps, I had this all but wrapped up. I felt good on my 4th and (final) 5th lap, with speeds of 19.5 and 19.9 mph, respectively. I finished lap 5 (132.5 miles total) in 6:24:37. Using the pro-rating system gave me credit for 125 miles for the 6-hour event. So that’s where the new record stands. My average time for 132.5 miles was 20.67 mph. I also won this event overall. My average speed is the 4th fastest for any racer in this event and the fastest for anyone (standard or recumbent) over the age of 50.
I felt good on the V20. It handled well in the cross-winds and I could take the corners swiftly. Of course, it climbed very well and descended very fast. I passed a lot of (surprised) DF riders on the way UP hills. My top downhill speed was 41.6 mph. That’s not fast for Jason, but for me, that’s fast enough. I also want to thank the designers of the Giro Air Attack helmet. The windshield probably saved me from an injury. I was descending fast (close to 40 mph) on a bumpy road onto a bridge over the Brazos River, with a strong cross/head wind that propelled a giant insect into the shield. I don’t know what kind of bug (or small bird) it was, but it made a loud, weighty, “THUNK” as it bounced off the shield. It didn’t phase me at all, but without the shield, things might have gone differently.
Here’s a brief summary of the other Cruzbike racers’ results:
Alvin Maxwell’s 1-lap sprint started at 3:00 PM. He was a bit nervous about the wind and the fast descents, having only ridden the bike on the flat coastal plains of North Carolina. Nevertheless, once he got going, he absolutely BLISTERED the course. His top speed of 42.3 mph was faster than mine. He bested Steve Olsen’s 1-lap recumbent record, set on an M5 CHR by over two minutes, finishing in 1:09:08. Check!
Tejas 500 (503.5 miles):
Steve Olsen on his M5 CHR, 2016.
Jason prepares to start the Tejas 500.
Jason Perez was phenomenal (again) setting a new recumbent record with a time of 27 hours 32 minutes. The recumbent record was set by Ron Swift in 2014 at 27:51. Jason’s time is the second fastest time ever recorded for this event. In 2014 Scott Luikart, on a standard bike, finished in 26 hours, 16 minutes. (19 laps, about 30,000 ft of climbing). Other than at the starting line, no one this year was even close to Jason. Jason finished the first 238 miles in 12 hours and the first 445 miles in 24-hours; distances that would have set the recumbent records in the 12 and 24-hour events if he had been registered for them.
Larry Oslund won the recumbent division for the 12-hour event, beating the current 12-hour recumbent record-holder Rich Putich in head-to-head competition. Putich had a major mechanical (broken gear cable) that took him off the road for an extended period. Larry suffered from leg cramps and had to stop for about an hour and did not take the recumbent record. He logged 185.5 miles, placing 6th overall of 19 male solo competitors. (7 laps, about 11,000 ft of climbing). He started out great. His time for the first 106 miles (4-laps) was less than a minute slower than mine. After that, the leg cramps really hit hard and he had to stop. Larry’s speed (mph) for each lap were as follows: 22.3, 21.2, 20.7, 19.3, 17.3, 16.0, and 9.5.
Maria Parker’s 1-lap (26.5 mile “sprint”):
Maria was the first place overall for the women and her time of 1:19:38 beat the existing recumbent record of Peggy Petty by about 9 minutes. Her average speed was 20 mph and her time is the 3rd fastest for any woman in this event, and the fastest for any women over age 50.
This was a great event to showcase the strength of the V20. All great cycling performances depends on the mind, body, and bicycle working optimally together. It’s not “ALL about the engine”. The bike matters, equally. I have no doubt that I was faster on this hilly course than some riders who are better athletes than me, because of the bike.
As more evidence of the performance of V20 riders, I looked at Strava’s “Leaderboard” for the Glen Rose 26.5 mile loop. There have been over 2,000 attempts by 232 riders over the years, and of the ten fastest times uploaded to Strava, three of them are by V20 riders (#5 Maxwell, #8 Parker, and #10 Oslund).
Screen-shot from Strava showing the fastest 1-lap times that were uploaded as of 9/24/2017.
We got a lot of attention from the standard cyclists at the Texas Time Trials; maybe even a few sales. When it dawns on open-minded cyclists that they can go faster, and more comfortably, on a V20, even on a hilly course, they still must overcome neophobia: the irrational fear or dislike of anything new or unfamiliar. This is one of our biggest obstacles. We hope our Fastest Bike Guarantee program, and our race results, like these here at the Texas Time Trials, will help get them to make the leap.
Larry Oslund, Jason Perez, Maria Parker, Jim Parker, and Alvin Maxwell at the award ceremony, Glen Rose, Texas.
I’d also like to thank everyone who was following us online. Those messages reach us and really help. And thanks to Chris and Donna Clark, and Joe Hooten, for coming out, cheering us on, and helping crew.
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