Many of my recumbent online bike buds have done this race. In the past I was overseas unable to attend. So this year with being in the states, I decided to "volunteer to crew" for Bacchetta riders. About Bacchetta
"Crew"ing for ultra distance riders means you do whatever it takes to keep your riders on the course. Time off the bike is lost time and less miles. These riders are there for a few reasons: (1) To qualify for RAAM (Race Across AMerica). (RAAM QUALIFYING) Various ultra races around the world are qualifiers for ultra distance ride of rides (2) To set a PR (Personal Record) or (3) Just to see what the heck it's like to ride 12 hours or 24 hours or as long as possible.
What made this year's race especially difficult was the unusual cold Florida weather coupled with the Florida hills, which goes by the name of wind!! The high temp on Saturday was about 47 degrees and as the sun dropped on the horizon so did the temperature until it bottomed out at about 35 degrees around 4:00 a.m. on the 14th. The hills/winds? All day over 20mph with gusts of 30 to 40 mph
One of the racers who set a record in 2007 had this to say: "I was pushing 250 watts and doing 11 to 17 mph into the wind." Okay says I. What does that mean to me, the layman? He told me that at 250 watts he is usually riding at 25 to 27 mph. That brought home the impact of the Florida "hills" on the riders this day. Record hopes were dashed or well, blown away.
I had the pleasure of watching a new female recumbent rider on a Carbent About Carbent smoke the course. Her name is Sandy Earl and she will be doing a solo RAAM (About RAAM) this year. Sandy rode 415 miles in 24 hours in just miserable conditions to set a new women's record.
Ultra distance bike rides take many shapes and forms. One of the most common is a "brevet" done by randonneurs.About Randonneurs
People often ask me why I do long distance rides and brevets. I put the question to one of the Sebring riders and her answer rings true. She wrote (with some minor editing by moi):
"Why do I do this race (you asked)? I do it because of all the Bacchetta people there in Florida and the route itself. It's not particularly tough, it's beautiful, and I love the camaraderie of like-minded people. I do it for personal satisfaction AND.... I really DO want to RAAM qualify and this is the one race where, unless they up the mileage requirements, I know it is possible for me to do so. I am already planning for next year. I could have hit 350 miles, for sure, had I had some training (and I didn't) ....... if there had not been all that wind. I was 98 miles short of my goal and quit 3 hours early.... even with a 15 mph average I'd have been within 55 miles of the goal and without the wind I know I could have gotten those 55 miles in over the previous hours.... Yup. I had 300 miles in 2008 in the socked bike and I spent a LOT of time in the pits.... way too much.
The Little Train That Could. That's me."