Congratulations to Sandy Earl for a successful 24 hour attempt. During this 24 hour attempt Sandy successfully set the 100km, 200km, 300km, 500km, 300 mile, 6-hour, 12-hour, and 24 hour records in the Female, 50-59, Recumbent category.

Distance Event Kilometers Time Avg Sp (Km) Avg Sp (Miles) Existing records : Female, 50-59, recumbent new record GWR recs
100 Km Road 03:13:46.59 30.96 19.24 none for 100 Km yes new GWR
200 Km Road 06:39:50.38 30.01 18.65 none for 200 Km yes new GWR
300 Km Road 10:30:08.42 28.57 17.75 none for 300 Km yes new GWR
500 Km Road 18:47:42.09 26.60 16.53 none for 500 Km yes new GWR
Distance Event Miles Time Avg Sp (Miles) Avg Sp (Km) Existing records : Female, 50-59, recumbent yes GWR recs
100 Mile Road 05:15:53.45 18.99 30.57 none for 100 Mile yes Maria Parker
200 Mile Road 11:44:59.37 17.02 27.39 none for 200 Mile yes Maria Parker
300 Mile Road 18:01:31.15 16.64 26.78 none for 300 Mile yes new GWR
Timed Event Miles Kilometers Avg Sp (Miles) Avg Sp (Km) Existing records : Female, 50-59, recumbent yes GWR recs
6 Hour Road 113.052 181.939 18.84 30.32 none for 6 Hour yes new GWR
12 Hour Road 204.246 328.701 17.02 27.39 none for 12 Hour yes Maria Parker
24 Hour Road 380.835 612.895 15.87 25.54 none for 24 Hour yes Maria Parker


 Sandy’s Ride Report

Spring Forward! 6-12-24 hour record attempt, Women 50-59, recumbent bicycle road course

Solano County, California 3/11-12, 2023

TL;DR: I rode my bike for a day. It was wet and cold. The course is flat and could be fast with good weather. Winters is a good venue.

Sandy Earl

For this attempt I re-created a route that was part of the former Davis 12/24 hour bike race night loop. I added a bit to it to take in a local AirBnB that would serve as the start/finish line. I rode and videoed the route myself and submitted it to WUCA for certification, which was a very smooth process (thank you Larry!!!). The final lap distance was just over 18 miles of mainly good pavement, with 5 stop signs which would need to be obeyed because the constant state of weather emergency in northern California this season meant that I did not feel that it was appropriate to bug the sheriff’s office for permission to blow through stop signs for a one-off event.

I had originally hoped to do this event in February, and in an ordinary year that would’ve been okay weather-wise, on average. But this has been no ordinary winter, so I pushed back to mid-March – basically as late as I could go without getting in the way of training for RAAM. By then, I figured, the weather should be on the mend. As a bonus, I would get to ride through the “Spring Forward” hour as we transitioned to daylight savings time.  Everyone is groggy the day after daylight savings time starts, so I figured I could just slink back in to work Monday and fit right in.  It mainly worked.

Oooof. The weather gods were not kind to California this year. The weeks leading up to the event stayed unseasonably cold and wet. President’s Day was snowy – not at all normal. Then the AirBnB canceled my reservation – they’d found a long-term renter for the place and couldn’t afford to pass that up. I almost tossed it in at that point, but I found another place and we were back on.

We rolled into Winters Friday afternoon and checked into our AirBnB, which was spacious, well-appointed, and close to the downtown Winters restaurant scene.

The officiating/crewing corps was Phil Plath, Robin Fain, Patty Jo Struve, and Bill Spaeth. Phil holds numerous IHPVA and WRRA speed records crewed by his wife Robin, and Patty Jo and Bill have been crushing ultracycling events basically forever, so we had a ton of experience. It was awesome to be in such capable hands.

The final weather report was cool and showery. Depending on whether you looked at optimistic, pessimistic, or realistic weather apps, it might rain a little and top out at 56 degrees, or it might rain a lot and top out closer to 50.  From what we could tell the best weather window would be to start as early as feasible on Saturday.

Since we weren’t tied to the original start line, we moved the start/finish to the pedestrian bridge connecting the Winters downtown area to the course; it had a good parking pullout and was also the closest point to where we were staying so it was easy for the officials to shuttle back and forth to get rest.

We were off at 6:48 AM. The course is flat, low traffic, and agricultural – mainly almond orchards. One unforeseen bonus of being there in March was that the almond trees were in full bloom; they smelled amazing. Other wildlife included birds of all sizes and descriptions, a frog chorus at night, and one relentlessly stationary civet.

Start temperature was 46 degrees, and the first three laps were dry, cool, and relatively still. I was optimistic that it was going to warm up a bit and I might even get a chance to shed my jacket for a while.

In the fourth hour, though, the rain started. It got pretty intense for about an hour, then settled into just steady rain. The crew told me afterward that the temperature never got above 50 degrees, which sounds about right. I’d spent years cycling in the Willamette Valley, so I knew these conditions well. The way through is to ride steady, but not push – and don’t stop. If you push too hard, or stop for too long, hypothermia will end your ride early.

Fortunately, “not pushing and not stopping” is also a decent formula for a 24-hour ride.  The conditions meant that I wasn’t going to be putting up huge numbers, but the point of this ride was as much about RAAM preparation and working with my crew as it was about the numerical result for WUCA, so that’s what we did.

We adapted the nutrition plan to include more solid food than I’d planned since I wasn’t going to be drinking 24 ounces of fluid “food” per hour.  As it was, I was stopping to pee  nearly every lap, so hydration was one thing that was working well. There was a portable unit randomly in a pullout along the course; we took full advantage.

We continued like this through 10 laps – steady. Then the 11th lap. The 11th lap was our FUBAR lap: it was an hour or so before sunset, and Bill needed to gas the follow van before dark. That meant that Phil and Robin were officiating out of a second, less-equipped, car for a few miles. Which is of course when I got a flat tire. The van with the spare bike/wheel arrived a few minutes later, and we were back in business. Until the light mount on the spare bike vibrated loose a few miles later…I asked the van to pull over so we could tighten it and – being the wonderful, responsive people they are, they did that right away – and the van got stuck in deep mud.

Robin, the official in charge, correctly told me that I couldn’t proceed up the course without an official, so I used the time while the crew dug out to finally change into dry kit. I’d planned on doing that after the 12-hour point so that I’d have more miles on that record, but – you play the hand you’re dealt, and it felt glorious to be warm and dry again. While I was in maximum dishabille, a friendly farmer showed up and offered to help. Fortunately, Bill had supplied the van with a towing strap – and tinted windows.

We got the van back on the road and pointed in the right direction and got back around to the start finish with a few minutes to go before the twelve-hour mark. I did get a couple hours’ respite from the rain until night fell in earnest and a heavy mist/light drizzle started. It was enough to keep the road wet but not quite enough to get me totally soaked, which was good.

We transitioned my nutrition to my cold night go-to fuel – mashed potatoes mixed with Campbell’s Chicken and Stars soup. Nice and runny, in a water bottle with the valve taken out so I could drink it. Warm food felt great! Warm ANYTHING felt great. There was one short stretch of road where the roadside vegetation was especially close and thick, and I swear it was radiating the plant equivalent of body heat – so every lap I leaned in a little bit when I got there. Later the crew mentioned that it looked like I was about to run into a ditch at that spot, and they couldn’t figure out why – I explained that those were my “snuggle plants” and I was stealing their heat. Weird, but true.

As the night progressed, the flat tires started to mount up. Crew reported glass in the tires. I was running tubeless tires with sealant, but they were no match for the sheer volume of crap that the rain was pushing around, and with the wet roads I wasn’t going to be able to see it. We had a total of four flat tires, all in the last 13 hours; that might be a record in and of itself. We think there was a cache of glass fragments in the last turn, which was suspiciously close to a brew pub, since I kept getting flats late in the lap.

At 2 a.m. the time change came and went, unheralded and unnoticed.  With about two hours to go, another bout of heavier rain started but by then I was feeling impervious – I was just going to keep doing what I was doing.

We decided that if it looked like I was going to be close to the start/finish at the end of the 24-hour period we would just call it at that point rather than prorate a lap for a small gain. I was going to be under 400 miles any way you looked at it, and I would be meeting my goal of staying on the bike, being well-fed, and not having major issues with cramping or bonking.  So when I finished my 20th lap, and I knew that there was just one more to go, I was looking forward to just peeing really quickly and having an easy cruise around the loop one more time – I wasn’t going to be close to getting two laps, or even one and a half.  As I was letting that fantasy roll around in my brain, Phil, holding my bike, called back to the van: “Rear flat!” We lost a few minutes changing a wheel for the last time, and it struck me that I couldn’t count on ANYTHING on this event – so I wasn’t going to have the luxury of just cruising if I wanted to be sure that this whole lap counted.

And – I kinda did, so I took off with a bit of juice. I didn’t have a very clear idea of how much time I was taking but it seemed like I was doing okay, and I trusted the crew to let me know if I was in danger of falling off pace and not completing the lap. It was fun going around the loop one last time as the sun was starting to rise, saying “good-bye” to all the features…. Good-bye, almond fields! Good-bye, frog alley! Good-bye, snuggle plants! And even – Good-bye, stationary civet!

I came around the last corner feeling confident that I had plenty of time to finish the lap even if I did have a flat tire. After I finished and I was finally able to look at my watch, buried under layers of clothing, I saw that I had fifteen minutes left. Phil grumbled, in a good-natured way, that maybe I’d left a little too much in the tank – but he didn’t really mean it. And then he grabbed my bike to put it on the rack: the rear tire was going flat.

Thank yous:

  • Crew/officiating corps: Bill, Patty Jo, Robin, Phil – they were amazing under pressure and kept me going. They had the kind of energy that made me never even consider bailing out.
  • Kellie Moylan – my coach. She put together a training plan that let us insert this foolishness into a RAAM training year seamlessly and made it into a significant milestone.
  • John Schlitter – has been invaluable in helping me get my bikes (Schlitter Freestyles) dialed in.
  • Everyone that I’ve hit up for advice as I prep for RAAM this year – notably Phil Fox, whose mantra was “stress test EVERYTHING.” I think we delivered on that one.
  • WUCA leadership and records crew – everyone went out of their way to make sure that my application could be processed despite my difficulty navigating the online processes.