2011 Texas Time Trials
by Pam Wright
Yep, it was a great September day in Glen Rose, Texas, especially for a bike ride, so it must be even better for a 500-mile bike race called the “Tejas 500” and to really max out the “Fun-O- Meter,” we’re going to do it in less than 48 hours and qualify for the Race Across America, but that still isn’t quite enough. Let’s invite more friends and see how far they can ride in 24 hours and let’s call it the “Iron-Butt.” Still not enough? Invite more friends to race for 12 hours, more to race for 6 hours and still more to race 1 lap of 26.5 miles and let’s call it The Texas Time Trials! So we did and 164 racers from around the United States and even our very first Korean signed up to visit our annual reunion.
That’s what the Texas Time Trials is; a series of 5 races, all racing the same 26.5-mile loop near Glen Rose, Texas, which is conveniently located at the edge of the Texas Hill Country. Glen Rose offers great amenities for racers and crews alike. With the start/finish at Rodeo Park, racers can choose to stay in hotels, camp at the park, eat fast-food, order pizza or enjoy fine dining. Couple that with primarily low-traffic roads, beautiful rolling hills and gorgeous Texas scenery and racers return year after year to race TTTT.
The people who showed up to race, volunteer and sponsor this year’s race were as different as their personal reasons for being involved with this event. While TTTT enjoys an extremely diverse group of racers and volunteers, the “Texas Hospitality” that The Texas Time Trials has become known for, remains a mainstay. As in years past, although this is a race and there is a winner, everyone with the courage to line up at the start deserves and receives a Texas Time Trials trophy. This year over 200 TTTT Trophies were given out and if you haven’t seen them for yourself, you should take a look!
Because The Texas Time Trials is a looped course, many riders enjoy “self-supporting” themselves with just a cooler. The self-supported opportunity allows for a very affordable race weekend forgoing follow vehicles and crew member transportation. Bonus is lots of racers and crews pitch in to help neighboring racers and within a matter of hours, nobody is a stranger.
Girls did Great!
This year saw 28 solo females. Girls were 3rd solo overall and course record for the Tejas 500, 4th solo overall for the Iron Butt 24 Hour, 2nd overall and course record for the 12Hour, 5th solo overall for the 6 Hour Shoot Out and 9th solo overall for the Sprint 26.5 Mile. Girls also comprised many of the course record setting teams. Bents did Great! Although there was a huge hole with zero solo bents in the Tejas 500 or the 24 hour, there were 7 bent riders in the shorter races, setting 4 records. Solo Bent participation was down this year by 36%. Teams did Great! Teams set 7 new course records. We had 26 team members this year.
If a race report has a theme, past reports might’ve been “the girls,” “the ‘bents” or “the teams.” This year’s theme would probably be “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” or maybe even “practice makes perfect” as 50% of all racers this year have raced TTTT before and 20% of all racers have raced TTTT three or more times. TTTT was full of racers returning after DNF’s, defending champions, returns to conquer another category and volunteers and racers alike return each year for more good ol’ Texas hospitality. James Hack epitomizes this return with his goal of entering each of the TTTT races and he’s well on his way having entered four of five, with only the 26.5 Sprint to finish his “five-fecta.”
Another theme might be “randos rule” with 1/3 of all racers having held a membership with Randonneurs USA. Not only did randos win both male and female Tejas 500 races, but also the 12-hour and 6-hour. With only a couple hundred of what some call “active” ultra racers in the US, randonneurs wanting to test their “speed limits” have a wide-open playground of self-supported time trial options at TTTT. Twenty-five years ago an Ultra racer had to do most distance training alone. With the success of RUSA, there are organized long rides weekly all over the USA and an abundance of training partners at everyone of them. Many of this year’s racers and winners did all their training on RUSA rides.
TTTT 2010 was made possible by over 100 Volunteers. Many taking time off work and forgoing sleep to help keep the wheels turning, like Tony Goodnight who volunteered his time to run the TTTT Website. Most TTTT Volunteers were from North Texas Bike Clubs including the Fort Worth Bicycle Association and Lone Star Randonneurs. Uniquely, some volunteers not only volunteer, but also race in the same weekend, while others may race one year then crew or volunteer the next. It is heartwarming to see friends take turns crewing for each other and to see the same person volunteer to work to keep the race they love alive and give back to the sport and others involved in the sport. Cap this off with even sponsors that volunteer and race. Having the same volunteers return year after year really helps; they know the ropes, like Bill Fox manning the computers. Unbelievable to see 2011 Solo RAAM finisher Dex Tooke and crew chief Joni make the drive to crew for TTTT’s first Korean racer.
Sponsors continue to shine at TTTT with returning major sponsors Bicycle’s, Inc. and Richardson Bike Mart leading the pack. Bicycles, Inc. even provides the SAG vehicle. Hammer Nutrition continues to fuel TTTT racers. These sponsors support TTTT and help ensure every racer gets one of the best trophies in ultra racing.
New for 2011 was the exciting addition of Volagi Bikes, who jumped in with race support and the thrilling donation of a new $3600 Volagi Liscio Bike for raffle. The raffle impressively raised over $3,000 for local Glen Rose charity, the LDL Resources Foundation. Congratulations to Tom Robertshaw of Birmingham, Alabama on his brand new Volagi bike!
The Tejas 500 overall win went to defending champion Gary Gottlieb with 32:12 and it was a dramatic victory indeed. Not only is this Gary’s 3rd time to race Tejas 500, but he’s won two of those and is the only male to have won Tejas twice. This is the only Ultra race Gary competes in and all his training is done as a randonneur. Gary’s race to victory came with a trip to the hospital that cost him hours and yet he won. His story is so unforgettable that there isn’t room here for the details, plus John Foote with UltraRaceNews has published such an incredible report, we hope you’ll read the entire tale at http://tinyurl.com/3o6c3up.
Female winner and new course record-holder Sharon Stevens is no stranger to the Tejas 500 having completed it four times as a solo female, winning three, and also once as stoker for the course record-holding mixed tandem team. This year, Sharon shattered the female course by six hours with a new 36:09 course record and like many other Tejas 500 racers this year, has trained exclusively as a randonneur. Congratulations to Sharon who is now the winningest racer in the history of the Tejas 500.
The Tejas 500 was made up of numerous tough competitors, including Texan Jose Luis Bermudez who placed 2nd over 3rd place finisher and first-time Ultra racer (Randonneur) Greg Conderacci (MD). Mike Screws gets big accolades this year as a 5-time TTTT racer. Not only is TTTT the only ultra race he races, but he has increased his competition from a 24-hour racer, to a newly RAAM-qualified Tejas 500 racer. Bernie Scheffler is another example of “practice makes perfect” with his progress from 12-hour to 24-hour to become RAAM-qualified at this year’s Tejas 500.
In all, 26 solo racers signed up for the Tejas 500 and each of the 11 official finishers RAAM-qualified. To be qualified for RAAM all racers finished the 500 mile course in less than 48 hours. Randonneurs really shined with 8 of the 11 finishers (73%) being current members of Randonneurs USA. Many rode the Tejas 500 as an 800 Km Brevet. Four of the solo male finishers were fresh back from PBP. Roughly 50% of the solo finishers have raced TTTT before, some by increasing their races graduating up from 12-hour or 24-hour. The five finishers racing for the first time each came to Texas with plans to crew themselves and found help from TTTT volunteers and neighboring crews.
Not to be out-done by the solos, two new course records were turned in by 2 of the 3 teams racing the Tejas 500. Local riders Team Bulge set a bar they’re already scheming about for 2012… 26:01 for the 4-man team. And 4-person mixed team Shiner Four-Pack set a new record of 29:26. Team Awesome Foursome returned for the 5th time and all teams keep demonstrating that the 4-person team is the most fun way of all to race the Tejas 500.
The 24-Hour “Iron Butt” had a great field of 13 solo racers and 4 teams line up at 6pm Friday night to a perfectly clear sky and Greg Colvin took full advantage, completing 371 miles in 22:19, handily setting a new overall course record. This was a very diverse field with male racers from not only Texas and neighboring states Louisiana and Oklahoma, but from both coasts as well, with Matt Peter (FL) and Todd Zagurski (CA) rounding out the field of 11 men.
Joining Greg for first place was randonneur Veronica Beagan from Alaska winning the solo female 24-hour division with 265 miles and not to mention one of the “I came the farthest” awards and tying her old course record of 2009.
Four teams wrapped up the 24-hour races and each one set a division course record. One-Hour Racing: 2-Person Male Team. Raven Lunatics: 2-Person Male Team, Mixed Bike (CA). Old Guys Rule: 3-Person Male Team and Meta Racers: 3-Person Mixed Team, Mixed Bike.
As with the Tejas 500, randonneuring is paying off with 33% of these racers having been RUSA members and most of them returning racers.
The 12-Hour “Tin Butt” had 28 signed up and now has a new 212-mile course record thanks to Kurt DNF’ing the Tejas 500 after two laps and instead of leaving empty-handed, he rejoined TTTT as a 12-hour racer and led the field of 14 men from start to finish, not a bad way to finish up his third year of TTTT racing. One advantage the looped TTTT course offers is the unique opportunity for racers who pull out of a longer race to make repairs (to bike or body) can return to race a shorter distance. Kurt Searvogel did just that, as did several other racers. TTTT has seen Tejas 500 racers finish early and also race the 26.5 mile sprint. Many Tejas 500 crew members get a change to race after their racer has finished. Some racers bring the entire family out to play, like the Parker family, with each member entering a different race as did Jim (6 hour course record), Kent (26 mile sprint), and Maria (12 hour course record) from North Carolina.
Michelle Beckley had a similar race, in front from the start and handily winning the women’s race. Two new recumbent records were set, one by male racer Jim Finger (GA) and the other by female racer Maria Parker (NC). Maria’s record is impressive, she covered the same miles in 12 hours as the Solo Male winner, had she done a pro-rated lap she would have won overall. Congrats also to Michelle Williams, Mississippi’s RUSA RBA, for lining up at TTTT and enjoying her first Ultra Race.
Two Texas teams rounded out the field. Team Manly Bulge winning the 2-Person Male Team and Wag More, Bark Less setting a new course record for 2-Person Female Team.
More racers returning each year include Wendell Hyink, four-time TTTT racer and Martin Hukle, five-time racer. Both entered the 12-hour race this year and continue to enjoy themselves.
The 6-Hour “Shoot Out” offered fast excitement as Tom Rodgers hammered to first place Solo Male. Leslie Haas easily led all the women to her solo win. Course record-setting continued with Jim Parker’s Recumbent result, as well as the 2-Person Male Team of Gillman/Hill. Volunteers-extraordinaire Scooter Conner and Mary Alice Tudor continued their tradition of racing TTTT with a 1st Place Mixed Tandem.
The 26.5 Mile “Sprint” saw a huge field of 46 racers line up Saturday afternoon. Twenty-five men battled it out for first place with Troy Smith turning in a 1:14 time, only 20 seconds faster than 2nd place finisher Steve Sievert. In fact, less than 14 minutes separated the first 10 men. Merrie Wimmer dominated the 12 women with a 1:23 time. Peggy Petty continued her record-setting recumbent streak; she holds the Tejas 500 female recumbent record and adds the Sprint to her accolades. Kent Parker won the Solo Male Recumbent and Bob Millay set a course record for the new Solo Male Trike division. Rounding out the racers were the two Texas mixed rando tandems with the Rolling Nolans setting a course record.
Must be doing something right, folks come back year after year to enjoy the hospitality, scenery and usually beautiful weather. Texas weather is about as predictable as it gets on the last weekend of September with average lows of 65 and highs of 89 degrees. This year had near perfect weather Thursday and Friday with Saturday posing a challenge of a colder than normal night, followed by a warmer than normal day, but leave it to our neutral sag support to rise to the occasion, by taking water out on the course Saturday.
Every racer has their own motivation for showing up; for some it is the culmination of a year’s worth of training, for others it is a chance to be a part of something much bigger than a ride with a couple of friends. Some are there to win, some for the reunion, some to enjoy the sunshine, while others are doing the first race of their life. We have a healthy mix of “World-Class Athletes,” “Rookies” and “First Timers.” Everyone loves the spontaneous and positive interaction. For every very serious racer there is a fun one.
Please consider joining us in 2012 for our 10th Anniversary.
Happy Trials, DanD
For full results including splits of each lap go to http://www.tt24tt.com/old_site/results2011.html