Story by Jerry Shafer,
I have always been intrigued by endurance activities. I enjoy riding my bike long distances but these rides are pretty small efforts compared to most ultra-events. Looking at ultra-results I’d see names of riders I know or even have ridden with and wonder how I would fair at these races. To find that out I entered the 2011 twelve hour portion of the Lewis & Clark Ultra held on memorial weekend in Washington State.
As I was training for that first ultra-event I visited various websites to read race reports detailing rides of other ultra-racers. All these reports were inspirational; from winners to finishers I thought I felt the rider’s enthusiasm for ultras. While on the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association (UMCA) website I saw the records page and the current records in my age group, 60 – 69, for road, track, distance events and timed events. The record for my age group on the track for 12 hours was 218 miles. I began day dreaming about attempting to break that record.
For the 2011 L & C Ultra I was planning on going 200 miles with support. The coarse description indicated that there is at least 6,000 feet of climbing on the 140 mile day loop and the “night” loop a mere 10 miles long. I finished that first ultra at 195 miles, ridden unsupported, and showing around 10,000 feet of climbing. That led me to believe that I could better the current track record. My day dreaming became more like planning after that first ultra-race, I downloaded the UMCA Records packet, read it cover to cover, and I envisioned a record attempt.
When my grandson, Lance, was very young he was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, eye cancer. His eye was enucleated and he has been cancer free since then, he is now 7. My son, Hunter, his wife Caroline and Lance have become active in getting the word out regarding this type of cancer and its early detection. They assist Retinoblastoma International, based in California. I have known since Lance’s eye ordeal that someday I would ride my bike to raise money for retinoblastoma research. I thought that a record attempt was the right opportunity to fulfill my desire to help fight RB. I put the plan in motion. If you like you can visit my website at http://www.sharewithjerr.com/Share_With_Jerr/Welcome.html for complete details, about me, my grandson, and the cancer retinoblastoma. Visiting Share With Jerr will fill in some of the gaps in this narrative.
The Marymoor Velodrome, my home track just outside Seattle in Redmond Washington, was the sight of my June 16, 2012 attempt at three records for track, on a standard bike. The track was built in 1974; it is 400 meters in length with 25% banking in the turns. It has a painted concrete surface that becomes unsafe to ride when wet. Of course it is out of doors.
My ride was scheduled to start at 8am, but due to rain, it was delayed a couple hours, leaf blowers were used to dry the track quickly when the rain did stop. The temperature was in the low 60s. During the delay we had discussions regarding alternatives available. Ultimately a call was made to the UMCA records chairperson and clarification was quick in coming. The attempt was on regardless of weather, no real alternatives to be had.
Fortunately, we decided to ride any time we got a break in the weather. We hoped for a window that would allow me to get at least one hundred miles in. I would ride during the window no matter its length up to 12 hours, and additional rain delays were a possibility. Radar and forecasts indicated a possible opportunity but nothing was certain.
I chose mid-June, seasonally not the best time of the year in the Seattle area, as the attempt date and at Marymoor for specific reasons. My son, Hunter, is a former national caliber spring board/platform diver and currently a successful coach in that sport. One of his athletes received an invitation to attend the Olympic trials held at the Federal Way Aquatic Center here in Washington. In diving the coach travels with their athletes to events. I wanted Hunter, Caroline, and Lance to be here when I attempted the records so I chose the weekend prior to the trials as the date. After that decision and announcements were made, an issue arose that precluded his diver from attending. We had to stay with the date. Using the outdoor velodrome was a function of the above and this seemed a perfect opportunity to promote it and the sport of track racing.
The National Anthem was sung and the required countdown given. I left the pursuit line determined to establish a pace that would get me as far down the track as possible before weather took over. I quickly settled in to a comfortable speed. I heard that in the first hour I completed 23.5 miles. There was no wind to speak of the first two hours.
I had been riding close to the black measurement line the entire time without hitting any foam blocks and then I came through turns 3 & 4 and saw several of them displaced. The wind was blowing them all over. My crew quickly acted to weigh them down by soaking them with water. That problem was solved but the wind continued to be a problem the rest of the ride. I got into a pattern of powering into the wind and somewhat soft pedaling down wind. Gusts jolted my 808 front wheel on occasion causing me to dart off line just a bit.
Our first bottle hand-up was scary for those in attendance. I didn’t focus enough, think I missed the bottle and veered a bit off the track. I think it looked worse that it really was. After that drama the rest went pretty well. Any missed were as a result of me not concentrating.
I was suffering a little during hour three with butt tiredness and as result a little mental let down. No chafing just pressure issues. Every 20 minutes or so I would stand for about a lap, I now believe that needs to be cut down to 10 or 15 minutes. I never had that issue much in training.
When approaching 90 miles the sky became a little darker so I rested for two laps at 19mph, knowing the following ten miles would be at increased speed to beat the rain. As I recall my SRM time indicated something over four hours at that point. I set my sights on sub 4:30 for the first 100 miles. Those 10 miles passed quickly; with four to go I felt rain drops, luckily they stopped. I gave the thumbs up when I went through the 100; hearing some great cheering from the crowd. Approximately 403 laps recorded in the books.
I made a bike swap to relieve muscles that, although not sore, needed a change. My thought was to ride my road bike for thirty minutes then get back on my track bike. Immediately, the road bike felt like a slug. With the same effort that I had been expending for the last hours I could not crack 20 miles an hour. The saddle felt heavenly but after 25 minutes I had had enough. I switched back to my Tiemeyer track bike and maintained the desired speed pretty well.
After some time all I wanted to do was sit in a chair. I felt a few raindrops and used that as an excuse to take that sit down. My crew reduced the gearing from 90” to something slightly shorter and replaced the 808 with a 404 front wheel. These were welcome changes once back on the track, less wind effect on my line and spinning a few RPMs faster was nice. Satisfied after five minutes of sitting, I reclaimed the track feeling quite well. Speed was where I wanted it and I had no physical issues of note. I pressed on for another hundred laps or so; then I was waived off due to moisture on the track. I trust my coach, and allowed him to make that call. After a brief delay the track dried and once again I was riding. I was not overly concerned with short rain delays as I had considerable time in the bank on my way to the 200 mile record. I was on the track for just a few laps this time, and then the rain came again.
I conferred with the officials to determine how large the time window was, based on my latest average lap times. I sat in a comfortable chair, wrapped in blankets, and was provided food and refreshments. I sat for the longest time, changed out of my damp skin suit into a nice warm dry one. I listened to Lance draw raffle numbers and award the prizes.
Kenny, my coach, came to me with the disappointing news, “the window is closing”. We talked a little more. I finally told him to make the call when the time is right. He said “the window is closed, sorry Jerr!”
I was really disappointed. However, I am satisfied with our effort in all respects. We successfully worked with the circumstance that we were presented with. Total of 552 laps, around 140 miles ridden. My 100 mile attempt unofficially resulted in four hours twenty seven minutes, pending certification by the UMCA. All my ducks seem to be in a row for that with one exception, survey results for the actual length of the Marymoor Velodrome. That length certification has been promised to be in my hands soon. (Editors note: Jerry Shafer’s 100 mile outdoor track 60-69 age group record of 4hrs 27min 57sec has been approved by the UMCA.)
Here are a few things I learned from my participation in Share With Jerr http://www.sharewithjerr.com/Share_With_Jerr/Welcome.html and UMCA record attempts;
Number ONE! My grandson Lance is more dynamic than I ever knew!!
Do not under estimate the power of asking for support, ask and they will respond, people want to help, they want to be associated with great things, and they are very generous, we raised a lot more money for RBI than our goal of $10,000,
Maintain a guest book at the event,
Never forget that Cal is over the top.
UMCA record attempts –
The UMCA records chairman is professional, timely, and helpful,
The required paper work is reasonable and understandable,
Chose a ride date during historically favorable weather,
I can go faster.
Here are details that will interest some people:
Beginning in October last year, after track season, I did weight training twice a week, trainer and roller workouts, solo and team road rides in good weather as well as the wet, snow, and cold, windy weather. Rides were mostly 3 to 5 hours with lots of climbing; about 7 solo rides were six to eight hours in length at zone 2/3; beginning in May, weekly track efforts anywhere from 20 minutes up to three hours, for example I would do 45 minutes on a specific gear, change gears up or down, and do another 45 minutes, repeat, changing gears trying to find that perfect one for the attempt; one ultra-event pre-ride of 11 hours on my heavy rain bike, three weeks later I raced the Lewis & Clark Ultra (winning the overall 12 hour division with 198 miles that included 10,000 feet of climbing) this was 3 weeks prior to the attempt. I raced and worked out at the track until one week prior then only a couple easy spins that final week.
I rode my Tiemeyer track bike, Inertia Racing Technology disc on the back and Zipp 808 and 404 on the front, one at a time. Gearing for the first 100 miles was 90” and a touch smaller after. I was in my Slalom Consulting Racing team issued track skin suit with no base layer, Giro aero helmet and sunglasses, no gloves. S-works shoes with Speedplay pedals. SRM 165 cranks and fizik seat. Easton tt bars.
I ate normal food: Breakfast consisted of eggs, turkey sausage, oatmeal, coffee, and an apple; during the ride: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pizza and chocolate chip cookies. Drinks were fruit punch Gatorade with Lime Nuun, water with Nuun, plan water, and Coca-Cola (just one).
The best part was having my family there especially grandson Lance. Weather was the only negative aspect of the day. Share With Jerr raised nearly $18,000 for Retinoblastoma International! We made the local TV news twice and will be featured on a local daily TV show called Evening Magazine, on our NBC station.
On my Share With Jerr blog I thanked all my officials, crew, sponsors, and everyone who attended the fundraising festival during my ride. But one more time I have to say “Good on Ya!”
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