North Manchester 2014 HPRA Racing Pictures
The 2014 Texas Time Trial
Race Report by Charlie Ollinger

The 12 hour race starts at 6 AM. We (myself, and dad/support crew) are there by 5AM. I've been training for this race for quite a while. I am feeling excited to win it. In my head I had already won. I mean how hard could it be?

The Texas Time Trial is not a race to underestimate. My bike, a slightly modified Cruzbike Vendetta with experimental handle bars, is loaded up with lights and drinks. The race begins. I have a slow start. My struggle begins. Off and rolling, I start to work my way passed the field of riders to the front of the group. I see the tail light of the lead recumbent. It's the last time that I do. A recently (the night before) mounted speedometer was an immediate problem, trying to cut my leg on every pedal stroke.

Then, suddenly, one of my aero bars that had worked itself loose dropped off. I safely bring my bike to a stop with the use of skillful riding and a bit of swearing. Luckily I was prepared for the possibility that something of the sort would happen. I got out my few wrenches and got to work. I also removed my speedometer, that I immediately dropped just up the road, and had to pick up again.

I'm off again reeling in riders. I see another 'bent. My buddy Rod O.

"Hey handsome!"

"Are you on your second lap already, Charlie? "

"Oh no no, just trying to make up some time."

We chatted in passing climbing the hardest steepest roughest hill. A few more rolling hills and a plummeting down hill, in the semi dark light. It was pretty frightening.

The sun was coming up a bit. It was a very pleasant temperature at the time. The weather was really the only thing that didn't cause me any issues throughout the day.

Up and down through those tough rolling hills. Thinking only about chasing down the leaders I ride conservatively hard. Doing what I can to make up time but avoiding over exerting myself.

The only decent and then nice portion of road is the last few miles into town. There was even some brand new pavement. That was nice!

That last stretch of the loop was always very fast and very fun. A smooth road and a favorable wind direction. It was awesome.

I come rolling Into the pit area, hop off my bike and hand it over to my support crew chief/dad. We properly fix its handle bar and relocate my speedometer. Apparently the leader had a very fast lap, so I had time to make up.

Hustling out of the pit area, and down the first road I start to notice the roughness of the pavement. It doesn't matter though because I've got time to make up. Down the road a little ways I go to take a drink which was mostly successful. Until I try to put my bottle back in its cage and drop it on the ground. More swearing. Go back grab that bottle, and slam it into its cage. So that it knows who's boss and back off down the road. It was a pretty steady lap after that. Better luck with my bottle down the road.

No need for a stop this time around, I rolled through the pit area and on up the road that I'm pretty sure just gets bumpier on every lap. This was my best lap. All went well and it showed. A few successful drinks from my bottles. Hammer gel flask totally cooperated too. It was still early in the morning so the temperature was just right.

Then with the best bottle exchange I have ever had in my life I begin my next lap. The brutality of the road is starting to wear on me. The constant vibration is bone rattling. Man does it get old... I drop my hammer gel flask. Swearing at it does actually make me feel better. Back to business. I drop a bottle a little ways up the road. Again. Soreness from the beatings his road is giving me starts to be noticeable. Mhmm hot foot, it's terrible to meet with you again. I have a bit of a wrestling match with a pack of chomps for several miles until I finally get it open. Then the struggle to eat them. Smooth road and I'd be golden. The rough roads that pave the way to hell, make everything a struggle. Rolling into the pits I opt for a sock change.
 
Another lap begins. Things are getting tough. This course is no joke. I got through this lap with minimal difficulty. Though I've realized this is a race I'm not going to win, but survive. Just a bit more beat up. I also notice that my headset isn't right. It's loose but riding like it's too tight... In the pits we adjust my tire pressure for the smoother ride while I jam my feet into my cooler. Take that hot foot!

Out of the pits again and away I go... Fighting the roads, the hills, a mucked up headset, and the feeling of losing a race. It made for a pretty tough lap. "Sometimes you eat the bear, and, well sometimes he eats you...". I catch Rod O. Again, at what I'm pretty sure was the same climb as before. We ride together for a bit, side by side, so that we follow the no drafting rules and just chat it up a bit. I get ahead on some bombing descents until my hammer gel flask worked it's way out of my pocket and threw itself on the ground. Quitter. Right at the base of a rather good sized hill too. So Rod and I ride up it together then more fast descents and the fact stretch of road, that made every lap satisfying a little bit at least. Into the pits, feet in that cooler, and bike with the crew to tune up that head set. Not the easiest task. A few minutes later and the V is ready to roll again.

Back at it down the rumble strips that they call roads. Lumbering along, and still fighting that headset. After one faster descent I conclude that it's not safe to ride and pull off to the side of the road get out my wrenches and see what I can do, assuming the problem was in the top portion of the headset I rearrange some parts and spacers to get as much clearance as I can. Feels good! Back to riding after way too long of a stop. Well all that work and time was for nothing. The handling only got worse. There was a mid lap sag support station at about mile 10. I pulled in and caught a lift back to the pits, with the possible option of coming back out later.

Once in the pit the crew fellas, my dad, and another man who's name escapes me at the moment (Chris C?) get to work. After taking the whole assembly apart found that the bottom cup was rubbing on the fork, making proper adjustment impossible. A toolbox full of parts saved the day. Appropriate parts and pieces added where they needed to be got that headset smooth as silk. Then the wait. Gotta wait for a sag vehicle to take me back out to where I was picked up. Eventually I got a ride.

I was dropped off just as Maria Parker came to the same corner. Since I only had time to finish this lap before the race ended I decided I would ride with good company, being that Maria was on the final lap of the tremendous 500 mile event that she rode with unbelievable grit and determination. Some friendly chatting for the remainder of the lap made it actually pretty enjoyable.

All in all, a super tough event. At the time I hated it, though thinking about it now, that's an event I would enjoy doing again.

I'm not sure what my overall standings were, but got second in the recumbent class with 185 miles.

Many thanks to the Parkers, and supporting crew and my dad.
 


Charlie on the podium
 
The Texas 12 - Hour Challenge
Rider # Last Name First Name Age Place Place, Age Group City  State Category Miles Time Laps Speed
Solo Male Recumbent
122 Putich Rich 45-49 1 1st Place 45-49 Las Vegas NV M BENT 212.00 11:16:00 8         18.82
134 Ollinger Charlie 20-24 2 1st Place 20-24 West Milton OH M BENT 159.00 11:28:00 6         13.87
123 Schaaf* Daniel 65-69 3 1st Place 65-69 Rowlett TX M BENT 152.32 12:00:00 6         12.69
121 Owen Rodney 55-59 4 1st Place 55-59 Huntsville AL M BENT 132.50 10:22:00 5         12.78
 
Full Results