Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Sandy Earl Conquers Ring of Fire on her Carbent HPV Sea Dragon
As Chris Young, Team Carbent rider says, "Kicked the everlovin' SHIT is always a good way for a ride report to start!" Enjoy Sandy's report below:
Not to be overly modest or anything, but I kicked the everlovin' SHIT out of the Ring of Fire. Dana - the bike was amazing. The race bag was also amazing - possibly worth a mile or so right there. I'd say "equally amazing" but a pink thing that sits there and holds your waterbottles without issue or complaint can't possibly hold a candle to that "simple" carbon stick.
I 'd set a goal of 168 miles, figuring that committing to - and achieving - 14 mph would be a RAAM-worthy test on that course. I also knew that 168 would require perfect - or near-perfect - execution by both racer and crew, with a side order of good luck. At 14 mph, I would be climbing slightly over 1000' per hour....
Long story short, the Carbent now holds the womens' 12-hour record at ROF: 171 miles. The expired record of 130 miles was set on a Bacchetta (Sara Kay Carrell) in 2007. In 2007, Ring of Fire was the UMCA's designated 12-hour championship course, and the recumbent race was (relatively) hotly contested - in other words, more than one person showed up, so there was a real race on. Other recumbent results that year were: Keith Kohan (socked Gold Rush, 212!!!) and John Schlitter (Bacchetta, 166). The last makes me feel just a little bit more RAAM-ready....
110% crewing by Robert was definitely key as temperatures crested at 100 degrees F. Hottest area of the course was, predictably, the exposed climb up Dufur Gap Road which one hits in the early afternoon. Last year (riding unsupported and upright) I went into a moderate heat emergency on that climb and spent the rest of the day fighting heat cramps and worse. I don't know how much ice we went through, but it was a "too much is not quite enough" commodity. My core temperature never went up significantly. I drank like a fish, peed like a racehorse, and ate respectably.
As a testament to the tough conditions, 171 was good enough for the womens' overall 12 hour win. The pre-race favorite, Martha Walsh, was on track for an excellent race - probably on par with her course record of 193 - but wisely pulled out for a couple of hours to head off the early stages of heat exhaustion. DNF's and early retirements were the norm for the 12-hour course.
With the climbing, the course doesn't feel exactly "recumbent friendly". On the other hand, I'm not sure how much more I'd have gotten out of the upright this weekend - perhaps a bit, but I doubt I'd feel like going out and doing it again today. Given a choice, I'm pretty certain I'd prefer the Carbent for the night loops: 2200' of climbing in 26+ miles, but over 50% of the climb is in the first 3 miles.
Sandy will be racing solo in Race Across America 2010. To follow her progress and musings as the race gets closer, check out her blog.