I wish Speed Theory Mike Healy good luck, he looks solid and prepared as always. And like a good Irish lad we both enjoyed a cold beer the night prior, catching up a bit.
This scenario was a total bi-polar opposite of the two years previous event I was in where a huge peloton stuck together for nearly the entire Century race, allowing conservation of energy etc... not this time.
Boom!!! I get blown off about 5 km from the finish of the Century race and Claudio has to attack and bridge under enormous effort to regain Kurt and Markos wheel.
"Well ok, here I am now", I tell myself, nearly bonked, alone, in 2nd position, 20+ hours racing to go. Claudio is with two guys who will either destroy him, or tow him along for their 12 hour race? Either way I need to collect my shit and get my head screwed back on and remain steady.. riding into the West wind... I make it to the Sebring Track/ Century Finish. I enjoy a feed from my guys and then roll out onto the 17km 'Short Loop'. Within two laps I catch Claudio. .. and we are once again competing for 1st, I didn't really get the sense that anyone was catching up to us anytime soon either. I ask him again to confirm he's in the 24 event, in broken English he says "Yeah, I am in 1st".
Ok then, he thinks I'm in the 12 hour maybe? huh...
Back to Claudio, the man is a fully fledged Solo RAAM Finisher, times 4, and probably the most prominent Endurance cyclist in South America, definitely Brazil, fully sponsored by Specialized. Built like a brick shithouse as well, he more resembles a Mayan Incredible Hulk, rather than the svelt Euro Pro physique of the likes of Marko Baloh... but oh man was this guy powerful.
Into the next lap I place a well timed attack on Claudio on the one and only 'hill' of the entire event, and it works!! Bam, I make a break and stick it hard, I know I have two more laps alone on the short loop and then will be onto the Sebring Raceway, where my cornering ability will shine through. Knowing I probably can't drop Claudio anywhere else, this is my only chance...
At the 12 hour mark, Marko Baloh has dropped knuckle dragger Kurt for the 12 HOUR Win, and the rest of us 24 hour saps are directed onto the raceway. I'm clearly ahead of Claudio by 5 minutes or more now, and knowing I have solid cornering ability on the race track I slowly increase my lead, meter by meter, second by second.. as the sun starts to set, and I've now been awake for 34 hours.
It gets very cold, near freezing.. my support team has been the foundation of success and although I contemplate a DNF for my own safety, after falling asleep on my bike; I turn it into anger and adrenaline and continue driving, driving, driving, driving...
Overall I think I managed 465 miles (755 kilometres)? Or somewhere about 4.5 Ironman loops in a row, on a flat flat course, with no coasting.