Bike Sebring 2004

February 28, 2004 was the 3rd annual Bike Sebring 12/24 Hours.

Here is my account of the event:

On Friday the 27th Alain Abbate, Boris Fayfer and I left Fort Lauderdale.  We arrived in Sebring around 7 PM and checked in with the event coordinators at the Chateau Milan located on the edge of the Sebring International Raceway.  After asking some questions about the event we departed for our hotel and a nice dinner at Chilli's.

We woke up at 4:30AM and left for the raceway at 5AM.  We parted in front of the Panos Driving School where the other participants were getting ready.  This would be our daytime "pit lane".


At 6:30 the event started at the entrance to the raceway.  From there we went onto the raceway and followed the PACECAR for the first lap.  After the pace car left the circuit we proceeded to do two additional laps before leaving the track for the open road.

Waiting for the race to start:

The open road was an 89 mile out-and-back.  I didn't know at the time but there was another group that had gotten away during the second lap and they were now out of sight of our group.  I decided to be cautious and stay with these 12 hour riders.  The weather was cold and windy.  About 45-50F and 15 mph winds from the North.  Fortunately we were heading North on the out so the back will be easier. Anyway there were a lot of strong riders and I just sat back and let them do the work.

The Pack I was riding with on the 89 mile section... Oh and Boris is drafting me!

More facts:  There were approx. 100 participants of which approx. 20 were doing the 24 hours and of them about 10 were doing the RAAM qualification.

While we were on the out portion one of the RAAM qualifiers passed us which caused us to pick up the pace a bit.  Eventually he got away from us but about an hour later we caught him again.  Oddly enough an hour later another RAAM qualifier passed us on a series of down-hills to which our group split up chasing the RAAM rider.  As it turns out I managed to catch this breakaway and four of us, including the RAAM rider took off.

Before we got to the first checkpoint (also the turn-around point) we saw the front rider on a Time-Trial bike and wearing FULL TT helmet and clothes!  He was flying!  Shortly after the rest of the front pack passed us.  They were 3 minutes ahead of us.

At the turn around point the two 12 hour riders decided to stop at the checkpoint but Mr. RAAM kept going.  I decided that since Mr RAAM can't draft me (in order to qualify he has to do 425 miles no drafting!)  so I could simply draft him all the way back to the car!  With the wind behind us he really began to pick up speed.  We were flying!  On the famous downhill part of the Highlands second day ride with both of us on our aero-bars we hit 48mph!

On the way back we picked up and dropped the scrags from the front group but we never caught them or the front guy.

First surprise:  When I got back to the car and checked the time for the first 100 miles I discovered to my surprise that even with all of the wind I managed to ride 100 miles in 4 hours 45 minutes!!!!!

As I would find out later that was probably not a good thing.

Boris and John at the van in "DAYTIME PIT LANE"

OK.  The next part of the course is to do as many 11 mile loops before 6PM as possible.  During this I knocked out several loops but discovered that the front guy was very fast and passed me 3 times during these loops!!!  YIKES!  Well anyway I also used some time during this to stop and eat lunch.  Then I headed back out on the trail.  At one time Mr RAAM, AKA #17 as I began calling him, called to me and said HEY DRAFTER...  LETS GO!!!  OK... Lets go!  Boris had caught up with me and the three of us took off.  We did several loops like this and eventually we had to stop at 6:10 when they shut down the 11 mile loops and ended the 12 hour part of the event... The event director pointed to the race track and said all 24 hour riders to the track! Mr RAAM (#17) headed out to the track.  Boris and I already talked to the director about stopping and eating dinner with the 12 hour riders before going to the track.

Gary and Kirsten Gromet Doing the 12 Hours of Sebring!

Mr RAAM, #17, Pullin me on the last of the 11 mile loops.  The Heavens Beam the evening sun through the clouds to guide us!  Man that sounds soapy but the pic is still cool!

Yep and Boris is still drafting me... And again he is still there!

Boris Celebrates The Completing the First 12 hours!

Alain showed up (we saw him before) for dinner and the three of us talked with others as we enjoyed dinner... Well Boris and I enjoyed it.  Alain was not feeling too good.  After dinner we moved the van to "PIT LANE" and parked it in one of the PIT BAYS and joined the other 24 hour riders.

I hopped onto the track and did a quick 7 loops (26 miles) and when I got back the FAST 100 miles+ caught me.  I sat in the van for 30 minutes thinking that I may not be able to continue.  Eventually I decided to try a strategy of 4-loops and then take a break.  I did that  a few times and eventually got ill again.  I took another break around 1PM in the van and then fell asleep.  At 2PM I woke up!  YIKES.  But I was feeling better.  A few bouts of 4-lap-loops proved I was feeling better.  Slowly I started doing these loops faster and faster.

I was still slower than the front guy... Mr Time Trial.  He would buzz by me once an hour and shout "G-day and keep at it!"  Mr RAAM, #17, would buzz me from time to time but I could tell he was slowing down.  At 20 hours he packed it in.  He realized he wasn't going to make the qualifier...

Alain was feeling good too because he fell into his go-slow-and-don't-stop mode.  Boris began feeling bad and eventually he went to the van and fell asleep.  Oh well.  Eventually he woke up but he lost a lot of time.  This was shocking because during my sleeping he gained a 11 mile (3-lap) lead on me.

Now that I was awake I was gaining valuable time.  Rienheart G was ahead of me but at my pace it only took me an hour to catch up and lap him.  The event was coming to a close.  I would not get my goal but I recovered and would finish strong.

Alain Rolls in At the Finish!  The Three Amigos!

My final distance 339.1 miles.

Oh BTW The Time Trial guy finished with 431 miles!  He qualified for RAAM.... Amazing!

So this is what it feels like to do 431 miles in 24 hours!  The WINNER!