February 21, 2011/ Jim Parker
Maria and I just returned from Sebring, Florida after competing in the 12 hour race that began at 6:30 AM on Saturday. This was our second 12-hour race, the first being the 2009 12-hour non-drafting race in Saratoga, NY. We carried the Vendetta and two Silvios (one as a back-up) to Florida on a rack on the back of our Suburban. We had Will, our 16 year-old son and “crew chief” with us. Our goals for the trip were: Allow Maria to go farther in the 12 hour event than any woman, on any bike (recumbent or DF) had ever gone before at Bike Sebring. Give me a chance to see what I can do on the Vendetta prototype. Introduce Cruzbike to a lot of people who may have never heard of us or seen one of our bikes. Support our DF riding pals from our hometown here in North Carolina. Make contacts in the ultracycling and recumbent cycling world. Get away to some nice warm weather after a long cold winter. Goal #1: The current course record for women on a DF bike was 227 miles and on a recumbent was 200 miles. Since Maria had gone 241 miles in a 12 hour event (UMCA record) that does NOT allow drafting, we assumed it would be pretty easy to exceed both distances in a 12 hour event that does. And indeed she did, racking up an amazing 246.9 miles in 12 hours. However, Bacchetta co-founder and champion cyclist John Schlitter personally shepherded a paceline all 12-hours that helped carry Jacquie Hafner 254.7 miles. Maria rode among this paceline for approximately 55 miles, road alone or pulled a paceline for about 75 miles, and road with assorted other riders (Including just one 11 mile lap with her husband) for the remainder of her 246.9 miles. She also had a technical problem that resulted in a prolonged stop and the inability to move the chain to the big chainring, where Maria usually stays. We considered switching out her bike, but the back-up bike was set up for me, not Maria, so she ended up pedaling the last 50 miles only able to use her small chainring. This technical problem was my fault. I was supposed to get her bike tuned up (it’s been many thousand miles since it’s been in the shop), but I neglected to do this. For Maria to log only 7.8 miles less than the winner under these circumstances was quite impressive, especially considering she was on the Silvio and not the Vendetta. It was great to see women performing so well at this event. It should also be noted that another Team Bacchetta rider, Michelle Ayling, racked up an amazing 243.1 miles, which under most circumstances would have been a show-stopper . Maria invited both Michelle and Jacquie to come try a non-drafting time trial on the 20-mile loop certified course in North Carolina. I’d love to see what these ladies could do without the interference of pacelines. Goal #2 I loved the Vendetta! I finished first in my division and 3rd among the 15 male recumbents riders entered in the 12-hour race. I was comfortable and the more laid-back position gave me an aero advantage over the Silvio. There were 3 short little hills each lap, and I looked forward to them. The Vendetta loped up them like a billy goat. DF or recumbent folks whom I was on par with on the flats leading up to the hills usually got dropped right there. My final mileage of 231.5 miles far surpassed my performance at the 12-hour in Saratoga (officially 195 miles, unofficially 200 miles including an unintended detour). My Garmin Edge data can be viewed here http://connect.garmin.com/activity/69444479 My average moving speed was 20.0 mph with an average speed (including stops) of 19.5 mph. Goal #3 Every time we were out in the parking lot in front of the hotel, we were met by a lot of nice folks who had questions about the bikes and wanted to take a closer look. We were definitely in Bacchetta country. Almost every other recumbent there was a Bacchetta. There were a few trikes. We learned a lot from the Bacchetta folks and I think they learned a lot from us. Goal #4 Our friend and DF riding buddy Tom Florian set a goal of qualifying for RAAM. Even though he’s 60, he had to reach 400 miles in the 24-hour non-drafting event. I’m pleased to report that he did, with about 4 miles to spare. We were there to watch him finish his last few laps between 6:00 and 6:30 AM on Sunday morning, and applaud him at the Awards ceremony. We can now say we train with a RAAM-qualified cyclist. Way to go, Tom! In the 12-hour, two more cyclist from our little town, Lee Ann Musselwhite and Mary Florian finished among the top women. Of the 15 women (DF or recumbent riders) in the race, 3 of the top 5 women were from Lumberton, North Carolina (population about 22,000). Goal #5 It was a pleasure meeting a fellow “co-founder” of a recumbent bicycle company, and a legendary cyclist, John Schlitter. In addition to the other great ladies I already mentioned, we met Sandy Earl, fresh off her bike from her latest 24-hour record. She looked like she could go out and do another 24-hour ride. There were many other nice people that we met and exchanged ideas with. Goal #6 We had fun! I’d like to say that Bike Sebring was very well organized. The weather was about as perfect as you could hope for. There were a few hours where the wind was a little strong and the sun a little hot, but I certainly can’t complain after this past winter. Riding through the orange groves, watching the sun rise and set, and a full moon rise and set, was awesome. I highly recommend Bike Sebring and hope to come back again.