Maybe I should’ve thought this through a little better. I have nine weeks to Bike Sebring with a whole lot going on. Not only will boys be on vacation, but we are traveling to where there is snow and I’m starting a new project with ThumbsUp International as an official nonprofit.
Bike Sebring is a solo, twelve-hour race. That is, the point is to see how many miles you can ride in a twelve-hour period. The problem is that I don’t foresee many opportunities to go for 100+ mile rides between now and then.
Story of my life (of any endurance junkie’s life, really.)
I spent this week figuring out how to tackle Bike Sebring. First Andreas, from Ultrabikex Studio, gave me some baselines for my training given the time constraints I threw at him. I have not hired a coach specifically for this challenge because I am on a budget for all things fitness related.
Andreas said I should ride at least four times a week: twice outdoors for as long as I could, and twice on a trainer. In fact, I should be riding right now! One of those trainer sessions is with him at the studio where I am pushed to my limits.
Ideally, I would get more long rides in, but it’s just not realistic right now. The good news is that the outdoor rides should be a steady pace, nothing crazy. Just what I like to do! But just how steady? At what pace? And how do I figure that out? I went back to elementary math:
Rate x Time = Distance
Where time = 12 hours.
In twelve hours, I will have to stop to restock supplies, go to the bathroom, re-apply lube, stretch, etc. These things shouldn’t take long, but they will require me to stop pedaling even though race time does not stop.
I read this post recommending no more than half hour of non-riding time. This means a five-minute stop every two hours. I know myself; I am going to need a little more time. It takes me five minutes just to situate myself to pee in a porta-potty. And I am not racing to win this thing. I’d rather be comfortable.
At best, I’d say I’ll need 45 minutes of stop time to take care of stuff, leaving me with eleven hours fifteen of actual peddling. So “Time” actually went down to 11h15’.
I played around with the rate and distance variables in a somewhat unscientific way.
I can ride at 15mph forever, I think.
Rate x Time = Distance
Therefore my target distance would be 168.75 miles which sounds kind of blah. That became my conservative goal.
I thought 180 sounded a lot better.
That would have me riding at an average of 16mph; it’s a bit of a stretch but I could strive for that.
And then I thought, well, I am much stronger than I was in Ironman Florida, and I got my super-ambitious-if-all-goes-beyond-perfect-not-so-secret-goal at 17mph for 191 miles. Who knows, maybe there is tail wind in every direction!
I was all proud of myself for actually setting a time and distance goal, so I went to check last years results and it had my friend Mickey at 183 miles. Mickey, who I’ve been on many adventures with, is a much stronger cyclist than I. It left me wondering: “why did she ‘just ride’ 183 miles.”
I asked her, but she is in the midst of grading papers as she is an adjunct professor at the University of Miami. I didn’t want to bother her too much so we are due a coffee soon. I also need to reach out to Major Jim Russell of the FSUPD who put together the GEICO Florida Road Safety Bike Tour and is doing the Sebring Race. He has loads of experience and dreams big.
First, Mickey sent me to her blog for her recap, it scared me. Then she replied that her Garmin actually had her at 191 miles and there is some discrepancy between the time you get cut off at the 12 hour mark and where you are in the final loop.
Huh? I wasn’t sure I understood, but things get lost in translation when communicating in texts!
I chose not to ask more, and went to the Bike Sebring website. It wasn’t very helpful as there is no clear indication of how it all works (hint, hint … it would be nice to have.) From what I understand we will start at 6:30am inside the Sebring Speedway, and then head out for a 100-mile ride. Once we return from the century, we ride loops around an eleven-mile course until 4:45pm when the Sebring race tracks opens to bicycles. At that time, we begin riding a four-mile loop, on the racetrack until twelve hours are complete at 6:30pm. Those doing the 24-hour race get to ride the four mile loop all night until their race finishes at 6:30am.
What I figured out is that I don’t know a darn thing.
Because the truth is, how am I supposed to have expectations about being on my bicycle for TWELVE hours straight? I have no idea if by 4:00pm 15 mph will become my aggressive goal. The most I’ve ridden in one day is 120 miles, and I am not sure why I speak so confidently about anything higher than that since those two times were a struggle.
What I do know for sure, is that I have learned from my experience at Ironman Arizona. There, I had a tough race and I mentally checked out on the run. I knew I would finish, so I just didn’t give it my best shot to finish sooner rather than later.
Here, I am committed that even if these numbers are shot to hell, I will continue to battle. I don’t want to have that feeling again – even if I don’t have a clue as to what I’ve gotten myself into.
Ps. If you have raced a twelve hour bike race or Bike Sebring, please feel free to share ANY information! It would be very appreciated.
Cover photo courtesy of: Johnny Cortes, Shutter Eye Photography