Congratulations to Amanda Coker for setting the female (18-49) Standard bike record from Jacksonville to Key West, FL – on Feb 27, 2021
Amanda covered the 533.6 miles in 27 hours 27 minutes for an average speed of 19.4 mph
Amanda Coker Jacksonville, Florida to Key West, Florida 533 miles (The Florida500)
The Florida500 was definitely one tough race! Having only found out about this race a couple weeks before, I am very satisfied with my overall time and results. It was fun getting back into the HAM’R mindset; I forgot how much planning and checklists go into preparing and executing an ultra cycling race. Luckily I had my awesome support duo, my dad (Ricky), and buddy Chris (Killer Miller). Without them I definitely wouldn’t have performed as efficient or strong! Huge thanks to them both; they followed behind me in the car with rear flashing roof lights, and caution bicycle ahead signs, prepared and handed off all of my nutritional needs, and kept my spirits high.
After starting Friday morning at 8am and riding 533 miles nonstop until 11:27am Saturday morning, I was happy to see the Key West welcome sign. The race started in Jacksonville, traveled south via the A1A, weaving through major cities such as Daytona, Cocoa Beach, Miami, and concluded down the entire stretch of US-1 straight to Key West.
With the exception of a chilly start in Jacksonville, the temperatures and humidity were perfect during the entire race. The first hundred miles seemed to have flown by so quickly, passing through it in four and a half hours; I was definitely excited to be back racing so my adrenaline was rushing for several hours! I knew coming into this race that the stoplights, traffic, stop sign, etc were going to put a damper on my overall time. Definitely was a test of the spirit and grit to keep stopping and rolling again; this race was a great base for building mental strength.
With the wind blowing viciously from the south/southeast, I was happy to be on a Felt IA and have a Zipp 404 front wheel and Super 9 disc wheel. The headwinds and crosswinds would have thrashed me much worse on any other set up. Not only was my Limar helmet helpful as far as visibility, it was perfect in providing ventilation and aerodynamics. I also didn’t have any tire punctures or flats, using the Kenda Valkyrie Pro 23c tires my rolling resistance was minimal and the protection level was perfect.
I didn’t make my first official stop/break until Dad and Chris said the car needed gas, which was at mile 205. Switching over my Oakley sunglasses to clear lenses, swapping out portable chargers, mounting a headlight, and reapplying chamois cream, it’s like a fast pit stop at the Indy 500…in this case the Florida500! One of my sayings from my world records was, “three minutes is a mile.” During my world records I was always crunching the numbers to get the most miles out of the day as I could!
For the first twelve hours I actually had a personal best mileage, even with the elapsed time with traffic stops, I virtually improved my 2016 Sebring 12 hour race category record from 245 miles to 250 miles, and that was with drafting! Was definitely a confidence booster, especially with the wind factor putting the hurt on me. As night time waned on, I was happy to see a couple of my friends, Paul and Kara, on the side of the road cheering me on, waving multi-colored light strands. So helpful! Also, as I was passing through Fort Lauderdale my awesome Twenty24 teammate Shayna and her boyfriend Eli were standing outside at 1am waiting for me to roll by! Thanks for the boost y’all.
As the miles ticked by, Dad and Chris made sure I was staying on top of my fueling. Consuming Tailwind Nutrition as my main source of fuel, I didn’t need any solids the entire race. With the exception of the occasional Clif gel, shot block, and soda to prevent flavor fatigue, I never had any gastrointestinal issues.
Rolling through major cities in the early hours of the morning was definitely eerie; Miami was a ghost town! I had never been there before and getting to roll through the heart of the city was pretty cool. Even had a yellow Lamborghini Aventador come up beside me at a stop light and blast off once the light changed, he may have gone 0-60mph in 2.6 seconds, I was happy going from 0-22mph in 30 seconds!
Throughout the race I made sure to move positions on the bike, stretch my spine, and use the rare occurrence of downhills as a perfect opportunity to rest my feet inside my shoes. With ultras it is so crucial to move around and not stay in one position. Even more important is the quality of a cycling kit. Thankfully I wore my Le Col kit and had a much better race; the breathable fabric and give in the bibs made a huge difference.
Racing with my Velo saddle definitely was a factor in being able to stay in the saddle for so long too!
As the hours ticked off I would say the hardest time frame was around 4-6am. This was the first time I had ever ridden more than 402 miles so I had to learn how to deal with the sleepiness. Throughout the race I believe I took pit stops about six different times, mainly to use the bathroom and reapply chamois cream. After fighting the winds leading up to Key Largo/the beginning of US-1, it was nice to ride into Key West with much less wind and the occasional push from the gusts from the ocean. Once I surpassed 433 miles, the double digits were in sight and I was ready to see the finish line. Another highlight from the race was completing my first 24 hour time frame, logging 465 miles for the elapsed time. Without all the traffic interference I can definitely see a major improvement within my 24 hour range!
Probably the coolest part of the race was riding across the Key West 7 mile bridge. I have never been to Key West so cruising over that was a blast. Along the route I definitely enjoyed sightseeing. As far as navigation, I was very happy to have my Wahoo Element Roam; uploading the Race Route to it took so much stress away. Just following the cue sheet on the Roam was so easy and convenient!
With an hour left I took on last quick last stop and the countdown to the Key West welcome sign began. Compared to the amount of miles I had already ridden, the last 21 flew by. I had Europe’s song The Final Countdown on repeat in my mind that whole last hour. Rolling across the finish I was definitely tired, having completed something I had never done before! Sitting at the finish we figured since we were just five miles from mile zero, why not use that as a cool down and go all the way to the most southern point of the USA.
My overall time for the race was 27 hours and 27 minutes, and I came in first overall. I am very satisfied with my performance. Taking what l learned from this race I am already looking forward to my next races/record attempts.
A huge thanks to my team owner (Twenty24) Nicola Cranmer for helping me gather all the supplies and products I needed for this race in such a short amount of time! Also, thank you everyone who sent me messages, made comments, and shared my progress, I truly appreciate all of your support!
Many thanks to The Florida500 race director Alberto Blanco for organizing this race and for the spectacular hospitality! This is a challenging race that I definitely recommend for those whom want to test their limits.