This is the ride report of my Ultra Marathon Cycling Association (UMCA) 100 Mile road record attempt, 50-59 age group, recumbent class, ridden on Oct 11, 2015. My name is Larry Oslund, and I am 55 years old.
I attempted my record on a 32.2 mile loop in Lumberton, NC. The course is relatively flat with only 4 turns and about 400 feet of climbing for each loop. Jim and Maria Parker were the UMCA officials and my good friends Andrew Thompson and Alvin Maxwell were my support crew. My wife Gayle, my parents, and new friend Doug Kline also came to cheer me on! The attempt was originally planned for Saturday morning, but the forecast predicted significant thundershowers pretty much the whole day. UMCA rules require you to pick a date no less than 21 days ahead of the actual attempt, but they allow a 1 day variance either before or after the “chosen” day. So we picked Sunday, as it looked to not have any rain. The wind however was forecast to be constant at 13mph with gusts to 20. The wind would die down to 1mph at 6pm, but I was not willing to wait until 6pm to start the ride, nor was I prepared for a night time attempt. So we did it with the wind, and it did not disappoint us!
Sleep was hard to find, and at 4am – I wake up to my pulse pounding in my ear at about 90 bpm. So much for a long and deep good night’s sleep. I must have been riding in my sleep or something. This was a first.
6am: Time spent on breakfast, final preparations, loading up the cars, checking everything out, and going over any final details. As we left their house, Jim Parker asked me what my goal time was. I said: “to break 4 hours”.
Now, after months of training and planning, I was suddenly sitting at the starting line of the 32.2 mile loop in Lumberton waiting to begin. Everyone gathered around me and we all prayed for safety for everyone, a good ride, and that God would be glorified through all we do. That was wonderful. After a few minutes Jim is counting down: 5,4,3,2,1 – go. I press the start button on my Garmin and I’m off. It was a surreal moment.
So, I’m off at exactly 7:50:00 am. I quickly sped up to around 25-26mph. Also, very quickly, my Casco Speedtime Helmet started fogging up. I tried to breathe differently, holding my upper lip over my lower one, and blowing my respiration down away from the helmet (that was fun – not!). It helped slightly, but after 10 miles I was no longer able to see out of the visor at all and I knew it was already slowing me down because I could not see! I signaled my follow vehicle and told them I needed to change my helmet. This required a quick stop, and I probably lost about a minute. I now was wearing my Giro attack helmet with the magnetic visor. That was quite disappointing, as I knew the Giro helmet would cost me about 2 minutes of aero disadvantage over the distance. That combined with the lost minute for the stop, meant I just gave up 3 minutes. But, it was nice to be able to see again!
The first 12 mile stretch was pretty nice with the 13 mph cross tailwind and I averaged about 26.5 mph on it, but I knew I was going to pay the price going against it on the way back. First I had to make a right turn in the town of Rowland, cross a railroad track and go about 1 ½ miles. Wow. Rough road, and horrible direct crosswind funneling through the openings in the buildings. I was ”all over” the road! It was pretty incredible – It must have looked like I was drunk! I just could not keep the bike in a straight line! OK, done with that but onto something even harder: the 10 mile stretch almost directly into the headwind, plus slightly uphill, and a roughish road too. A very hard segment! But, I still just tried to keep my power output the same and quickly saw my average speed dropping. By the end of my first 25 miles, my average was 25.1mph. So I was still on track for a sub 4 hour.
At the beginning of the next 25 miles I signaled for another water bottle of fuel. I had tried something new I thought might save me time: I bought a tube that you see in the camelback type of reservoirs that you bite on and suck the water out. I installed it in my water bottle with just enough hose to reach my mouth. I thought I would save time and effort from having to pull out the water bottle and taking a couple of swigs every 15 minutes. “Do not, I repeat DO NOT try anything NEW during an important event!” It was a minor disaster. It took more effort and concentration to keep the little sucky thing in my mouth and then to suck on it enough to get any liquid. I was unsure how much I was getting, plus, the little tube would rotate in the bottle and make it impossible to get all the fluid out. When I handed my bottle for an exchange I asked Alvin to put the regular lid back on the next one. Much to my dismay, the bottle I handed to him was still half full. Therefore, I had only consumed half of the fuel I needed for the first hour. Another rule: you can never catch up on lost nutrition.
To begin my second hour, I started on the nice smooth Hwy 74 with a crosswind that was angled a few degrees behind me. I was invigorated now that I was on the smooth road with a little side push. The gusts blew me around the road a little, but it was manageable. Once I turned the corner ending my first 32 mile loop, l looked forward to a nice 12 mile stretch with a tailwind. It was nice and a little restful, although I was still pushing the pedals hard. My average speed now for the first 18 miles (of this 2nd 25) was a wonderfully fast 27.1mph, but first I had to negotiate the bad roads and crosswinds of Rowland. This time I had a nasty surprise from a big diesel pickup truck that I suppose was a little unhappy that we slowed him down this Sunday morning. As he passed me, he floored it and I was engulfed in a large black cloud of thick smoke! Thanks a lot there buddy!
I held my breath and got through it about 10-15 seconds later. Andrew said the smoke was so thick that they lost total sight of me for a second. Yes, things can get worse! haha. Ok, through that ordeal, and then I was greeted with the 2nd repeat of the 10 miles into the headwind. It was so hard! I could have sworn that the wind picked up, and think it had a little. I labored quite hard, just counting the miles that I had to go before I could turn right on Hwy 74 to have some relief. Halfway through the headwind stretch, I finished my 2nd 25 mile set. My average speed had dropped to 26.1mph. But that was good run, now I was about 3 minutes ahead of a sub 4-hour pace. My pulse was still averaging about 165 for the hour, which I also know is sustainable for me.
Now into my 3rd 25 mile set, I signaled for my next water bottle of fuel. This time I asked for my “Jet fuel” Infinit mixture, as it has caffeine in it, hoping it might help perk me up. I still had about 5 miles into the headwind. It was gruesome and I could not help but think of how hard it was going to be the 3rd time around! How depressing a thought. I needed to re-concentrate myself at just getting through the 2nd pass. A nice surprise was my parents driving past me and honking. They left from Cary about the time I started and arrived there just as I passed the midway point of my ride. I would see them again at the start line. Once I made it to Hwy 74 again for the right turn my average speed was now only 22.8 mph. OK, only several more miles slightly uphill and then a nice gentle downhill of about 7 miles with a tiny tailwind. When I made it to back to the start line for the 2nd time, everyone was there waving and encouraging me on. Good news, with that nice gentle downhill and slight tailwind, my average speed had increased to 24mph. Now I had about 11 miles with a tailwind to try and get the average back up to 25. I did it by averaging about 25.5 during this segment. Pulse still averaging about 165.
Now to begin the 4th and last 25 mile segment! 75% finished! I signaled to my support vehicle and Andrew drove up beside me. Alvin handed me my last bottle of fuel. My secret weapon (Lactose free chocolate milk – silky, brown, liquid heaven!) I needed something! I was significantly more tired and of course now I had the final gruesome 10 miles into the headwind. The headwind seemed like 30 mph! I felt like I could hardly go! My right calf was starting to cramp, and it felt like the pedals had lead wrapped around them! Oh, that 10 miles felt like FOREVER! I had also been listening to up-tempo praise and worship music the whole ride (in one ear), but it was times like this it really helped the most: I could focus on singing to my Lord and it helped me forget about the pain of the moment and helped the time go by. By the time I finished the last segment against the wind, my average speed was down to 22.4 mph, and I only had 12.5 miles left to go. My support car pulled up to me and Alvin yelled out the window: “You need to average 25.6 mph to the end to break 4 hours.” I said thanks, and with renewed vigor, purpose, and pain, I cranked it up a notch. Suffer for another 30 minutes or so and it will be over I told myself. I was so close, I just had to regain the time lost to the headwind. It would be so disappointing to not break 4 hours now after all this effort. I pedaled harder and faster. My pulsed actually popped up over 200 for a short time when going up the last steep hill over the train track. The crosswind was tough, but it was still pushing me ever so slightly in the right direction. I knew when my average speed passed 24 mph that that was what I needed to break 4 hours. I slowly watched and pedaled as it kept increasing from 22.8. Every mile it went up another tenth. Finally when I made the right turn back to the start, I hit my magic number: The 24 mph average needed in the final lap to break the 4 hour Century! Everyone was there cheering me on. It was just what I needed. I now had only 3.4 miles left to go! Just a few more minutes and one more climb to go!
I tried to give it everything I could without locking up my right calf locking. I increased my speed up to about 26, but then the final little 40 foot incline over the interstate (biggest hill in Lumberton I am told!) was looking right at me, laughing (if hills can laugh – yes they can and do). By the time I crested the top, I had slowed down to paltry 17mph! I was so tired. Only 2 more miles to go! A slew of cars passed me as everyone was making the mad dash to the finish line to get set up to record my exact finish and time and pictures of it too. I just kept pumping and breathing and pumping and breathing. 2 miles never took so long going so fast! Where was that finish line anyway! Suddenly I saw all these cars parked about ½ mile up on the left. I gave it everything I had left. I knew it would be close. My wife later told me they were all standing there wondering if I was going to make it under 4 hours. The stopwatch turned over to 3 hours 59 minutes and they still could not see me yet. Then I popped into view, just a little dot, and they began the count down as I approached. I pushed through the finish line at 3:59:31 – wow – not much time to spare! I spun down the road about a ½ mile turned around and easy pedaled back to the group. They caught me and my Vendetta, and I was done! They all congratulated me, told me I did it: I broke 4 hours! A wonderfully sweet celebration with my family and good friends. Thank you Lord for this moment!
I went to stand up, and yes, I did a “Larry”: Happens all the time after my races it seems. My hamstrings seize up when I try and push myself up and out of the reclined seat. Immense pain washes over me and I either fall over .. or .. someone catches me. This time, my good friends Alvin and Jim were holding my bike so I did not fall – just screamed. Everyone else there thought it was a wonderful photo and video opportunity. Yes it was, and what great fun! After about 5 minutes of hamstring massaging I was able finally able to dismount the V and stand up.
We took a couple hundred more pictures and many hugs all around!
This is probably my favorite one of all of us after the ride! (Thanks Doug for taking it!)
Probably 2nd is me holding my Vendetta way up in the air over my head. This is the “Vendetta Victory Salute”!
We all went back to the Parkers, I took a shower (I was told I needed one), then we all went out to lunch courtesy of Jim and Maria. Great officials, great hosts, great racers in their own right, but mostly wonderful friends!
Thanks once again to my beautiful wife for putting up with all this craziness from an old man. Special thanks again to Alvin and Andrew for the excellent support, and to Gayle, my parents and Doug Kline who made the long trip to watch and cheer me on! Also thanks to Cruzbike, the Parkers (again), my family, all my great friends, riders, and racers at IRTG, Cruzbike forum, Strava, UMCA, WRRA, Normac, and my church family at Community Chapel in Hendersonville. I am so fortunate and grateful that the Lord has surrounded me this wonderful family to share the things of life with. Cycling being just one of many!