24h World Championships 2018 Race Report

The 24h World Championships race was a late edition to my season, as I thought I just couldn’t afford it with all the resources going for RAAM 2019. But my sponsors decided to help me out with the expenses, so I was in, a couple of months prior to the race. Winning the Tortour in Masters Category while also challenging for the podium with the young guns in August, left me thinking I should probably be able to add another 500+ miles result in Borrego. It would be my 4th time in a row doing 500+ miles in 24h.

I flew in 10 days before the race to give myself enough time to acclimatise to the heat, as it is Autumn already in Slovenia. Spent a couple of days with dr. Vince of Infinity Bike Seat to check my blood, set me up with a new E1X seat and ride a bit around L.A. Than I visited my friend Kerry Ryan of ActionSports in Bakersfield and we had some nice, short rides around the town to keep my legs turning. On the way to Borrego Springs I picked up Irma on the LAX airport and on Wednesday night we were at the scene. We had a great social ride a day before the event, with a big group of participants showing up, even Christoph joined us for a chat after his ride. We shared a house with Tom & Elisabeth, our awesome crew from RAW in June, as Tom was racing the 24h race himself. And we were neighbours with Andy & Birgitte Christensen, who were crewing for one of my clients Michael Philipps. In all we had 4 Baloh Coaching coachees racing and BTW all of them achieved their goals.

The plan for the race was  as usually to pace myself and try to hold the same or at least similar lap times throughout the race. Christoph was an absolute favourite and knowing his numbers from the training rides, I decided to ignore him as it would be suicidal to try to follow him. He went away right from the start and with the other strong racers in the group we stayed closer for quite a few laps. There was me, Brasilian rider Fabio Silvestri, Spanish Julian Sanz Garcia and American Mark Gibbons that stayed close for quite a big part of the night. My lap times were awesome and I managed to do 440km in 12 hours, which gave me quite a buffer if the afternoon winds would kick in again to slow us down (as it did).

I continued at my speed and the lap times that I knew were bringing me towards my goal of 500+ miles. That really was the only thing on my mind. Knowing how hard it is to achieve such a distance I was confident it will also bring me success and the Title of World Champion. I was enjoying myself in the night lit by a full moon. I only stopped briefly at midnight to put on the jersey and get new set of Winforce gels. I like to keep my stoppage time to a minimum, so the plan was to only stop two times, to put on more cloths and to take them (and the light) off. My lap times of 50-51 minutes continued through to the morning break as my second pit stop was approaching. It was another short stop to take off my front light and the jersey and to refill my pockets with more Winforce gels.

Irma was on top of everything in the Pit Lane. My fluid consumption was perfect and the nutrition was more or less in check. All through the morning my speed was still good and I was on the way to perhaps better my best mileage on this course. I did pass all of my rivals in 50+ category for at least a lap, so the Title was in my hands. And in the Overall standings I was still holding the 2nd place behind Christoph who was simply rocking on the way to maybe surpass the magic barrier of 900km in 24 hours. I was doing my own race, only thinking of "my" 500+ miles. I did have to stop more often as the heat was pretty bad during the day, so we had to cool me down by spraying water over my arms and head. As the wind picked up during the last 3-4 hours, my lap times plummeted to 55 minutes and it was a struggle to make it through the last long loops. We were working a lot harder for lap times that were much slower. As I crossed the Finish line with 12min to spare before I could head out on the short loop, I decided to take a break and wait for the clock to show 3.30PM. I went to a Toilet, than sat down with Irma and relaxed a bit. It gave my legs such a boost that I set up by far my best times on the short loop ever. The first two I did in 13 minutes and a couple of seconds, meaning I am still too slow to make it 7 laps. Knowing that I could relax for the last two laps, knowing I will improve my best mileage anyway and nobody was close behind me to for the second place overall.

Another race done, I managed to defend my Title in the 50-59y category. With setting my personal course record as well as the 50-59 record with 514,8 miles, I proved that you don't necessarily slow down when you cross the 50 year "barrier". Looking forward to the next season and seeing how far my legs can bring me in the hardest race of them all - the RAAM 2019.

The reason I am so excited for next year is there was absolutely no butt pain, thanks to Infinity Bike Seat and no foot pain, thanks to my Maccies cycling shoes with mid foot cleat position. Bring on the 2019!


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