Sebring 12/24h Cycling Race is always a kind of prelude to the season. A 24h race in February might not seem OK to someone with a “normal” cycling seasons, with mostly base training during the winter months and so a bit too early to be thinking of brilliant result for a 24h race. Nontheless, I’ve been thinking about this race for a couple of years now and finally made the choice to do it in 2014. The broken shoulder messed up my participation and I was on the eve of canceling, when Irma intervened and told me to go and take advantage of perfect spring weather in Florida to train for the rest of season (I haven’t been riding my bike other than on indoor trainer for more than 2 months). So, I went, got to know how to ride on the road again, did a lot of miles and won the short version of the race - 12h with a quite descent result. Promised myself and Mark Andrews (the organizer) that I will be back for the big one.
What started with Scott’s “could we do a training camp in Oman” question last autumn, materialized in a kick-ass training camp over the New Year’s. When we were checking the possibilities where to ride bicycles in Oman and found out the best place would be South in Salalah, we got as even crazier idea - we could ride al the way from UAE border to Salalah, or even to Yemen border. 3000km in 13 days, does it sound crazy enough? For us it did, so the planning began.
It has been a long time since I’ve raced the Furnace Creek 508, 10 years to be precise. 2004 was the year of my first and only participation, the year of my comeback from lung operation (after pulmonary embolism at RAAM 2003). Tweety Bird (the name picked by my than 5 years old daughter) rocked the course and won convinsingly. I loved the race and would certainly liked to have made more, it is just so difficult to fit all of the races I wanna do into my yearly schedulle. But for the 10th anniversary, I kind of loved the apeal of Tweety coming back and try to better my result (time wise). So, I was seriously considering it but with limited budget it was still going to be a struggle. Until a friend stepped in and offered to sponsor my entrance fee. Thank you Ray!
The crew was spot on with the WINFORCE nutrition, Marlies’ handoffs were impacable, Irma was shooting photos and posting on the website and Pat&Jason were driving the “Tweety car”. At the 3rd Time Station in Austin my advantage had grown to more than half an hour and surprise, surprise, it was the Crow in the 2nd place in front of Rock Rabbit. The climb out of Austin was hot, but didn’t take too long. I was thinking to myself and telling the crew we might want to put the jacket on for this descent on the way back. It was supposed to get cold during the night. I was still feeling great, plowing along with 22+ mph on the semi-flats towards Eureka thinking to myself an hour advantage would be better than half.
Pred Markotom je še okoli 60km in zadnji vzpon čez prelaz Geiger! Trenutna situacija kaže močno vodstvo, saj je po zadnjih podatkih na časovni postaji Falon, Marko prvi z 1h 46min prednosti pred drugouvrščenim, ostali še nisi prišli skozi.
Marko je seveda utrujen in z nekaj prebavnimi težavami, se prebija preko manjših in dolgih vzponov proti cilju. Počasi se kaže tudi sončni vzhod za našim hrbtom. Še dobri dve uri in bi moral priti do cilja v Renu.
Pri vas se dopoldan preveša v popoldan, pri nas pa smo sredi noči, kmalu bo tri zjutraj. Marko se počasi in zanesljivo bljiža cilju. Na zadnji postaji v Austinu, je bil v vodstvu s 1h 20min. Naslednja postaja je v Falonu, nato pa še zadnjih 100 milj ali 160km, z zadnjim večjim vzponom Geiger.
Po obratu smo nasproti srečevali tekmovalce, sedaj smo že nekaj ur ponovno sami, niti prometa ni. No, zato se pa imenuje najsamotnejša cesta v Ameriki.