Begin Countdown to the 508…

72 hours until the start of the Furnace Creek 508. Saturday Oct 4, 2008 at 7am.

This morning on the way to work I was doing some calculations and setting goals for the race. My goal is to break 40 hours on this event.

To break 40 hours on the 509.5 mile course this year I would have to avg 12.7 mph. Sounds reasonable since it is really slooooow to most people that race shorter distances. In actuality it is a good avg speed for multi-day non-stop Ultras. There are so many things that can go wrong. You wouldn’t believe how quickly your avg speed drops when you stop for JUST 30 mins.

Let’s use the example of a century.

100 miles in 6 hour total time = Avg Speed 16.6mph

100 miles in 6.5 hours (30 mins off the bike) = Avg Speed 15.3mph

The trick to a good time at the 508 is to STAY ON THE BIKE. As someone once told me “You are not making forward progress sitting here get back on your bike.” And that’s all there is to it. Keep pedaling and stay on the bike. But as simple as that sounds it is actually quite difficult.

Another way to look at this 40 hour goal is to look at my previous times.

2006 42:59 (nutrition problems)
2007 45:17 Fixed Gear

If my best time was 42:59 then I need to chop off 3 hours.

Let’s break those three hours up into the 8 stages of the race. I figured that out to be 22.5 minutes faster per stage than in 2006. Still sounds doable.

So what are the time killers?

1. Nutrition problems
2. Fatigue
3. Calorie Deficit
4. Sleep Deprivation
5. Hot Foot
6. Mechanicals– Flats, shifting issues
7. Night Riding– You can’t see as well in general and you can’t descend as fast.
8. Crashes
9. Resting– “Oh I just need 5 mins off the bike”
10. Nature Breaks
11. Heat
12. Cold
13. Clothing changes — for weather conditions and changing of shorts (usually 2x)
14. Equipment changes– Lights on/off bike exchanges
15. Follow vehicle – Mechanicals, Refueling
16. Crew- Fatigue, Sleep Deprivation, boredom, inattentiveness, running into racer
17. Going off Course– LOST Hard to do at the 508 but on other Ultras very feasible
18. High winds
19. Sleep breaks
20. Eating breaks

This list is not complete it is only the top 20 things that come to mind.


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