02 August 2010

Chris Ragsdale's World Record Ride

What an amazing weekend! I had the pleasure of being one of the support crew for Chris Ragsdale's attempt on the 24 hour road distance record and the first 1000km road time record. Both of these are daunting for an endurance cyclist, even someone as fit and motivated as Chris is. They are basically individual time trials on the open road with just your mind, body and crew...a fairly lonely endeavor and exceptionally challenging.

Chris heading down Best Rd. on Lap 21
It was honestly one of the most emotionally and physically intense efforts I have ever witnessed and the outpouring of desire to see Chris succeed was humbling. We all love Chris - he is sometimes so nice and soft spoken you'd hardly know what he is capable of when on a bike - and to help him make this happen was really special. It felt like one huge community goal, albeit with only him to take the brunt of the suffering!

He started at 7AM Saturday July 31st on a 10.8 mile circuit in the Skagit Valley outside La Conner with the base at the Queen of the Valley Inn. The course was chosen for it's relative flatness, a combination of only four right turns and minimal places to have to stop at lights (one must follow the rules of the road) along with a good time of year for weather.

His initial laps were very fast with the first at over 25mph! While the day went on he kept a good buffer until the evening when a series of flats ate away the minutes. Tension was in the air as the crew scrambled for repairs and plans for contingencies. The spare Cervelo had no aerobars, so was a slower option, but he still could pound out the miles. The main bike was a Lightspeed TT bike with a disc rear and a variety of front wheels depending on wind issues.

As the night wore on the fatigue began to set in and it was a monumental effort for Chris to stay awake and focused. We realized he was not going to get the necessary time to beat the 24 hour record so everything switched to the 1000km. It was hard for Chris to accept - after all the planning and energy I think he felt quite down...but of course, between our insistence and his fortitude, the new goal became everyone's mission!

I became a roving cheerleader during the long dark night before dawn - always one the most difficult aspects of riding around the clock. I went from one point near Highway 20 and another back off Best Road back and forth so I could be there for him a couple times per lap. Not sure how it went as I would see him for about 10 seconds as he roared by each time, but wanted to show we were rooting for him all the way!! The orange VW bus got in some serious time in the Skagit...

Sleepy but looks good!
Morning dawned and he was still going, really amazing to see. Some laps were slower and some faster, but his biggest challenge beside physical fatigue was the need to sleep. He was so tired! At times, he would stop and we'd get to him and try to re-focus him and get him going again and he would slap his own face a few times to wake up (we would have done the same!) then he's continue on for another lap. What awesome effort! At 24 hours he'd reached 494 miles and ate a the fried egg and cheese sandwich the Jan from the inn made. Very good people there!! 

Chris just kept pounding it out till he got on the last lap - as he passed my cheer spot on Best he let me know he was on the final stretch - I quickly headed to the little white line on La Conner-Whitney Rd and met up with Chris' wife Lara and his mom who came all the way from Michigan to see him. Soon others came and we all waited as Chris came up the road. Finally done!! 1000km. 31:40:10. You are the best Chris!! Congratulations!!

The official finish line.
More about Chris
Event Photos
Event Videos


Anonymous said...

thanks for posting the pics and video. what a fantastic effort by chris. it was very rewarding to be part of his crew and support.

Janet said...

Fantastic to read about this.

Mother of a cyclist doing the 3 volcanoes