After such bad weather (remember that cold Invisible Force Bastard {wind}?) limited mileages last year, good weather prevailed this year allowing 9 new division records to be set.  A record 62 riders rode 200 or more miles for which medals were given this year even if you didn’t make top 3 in your age class.  30% of the 206 twelve hour riders got double centuries! 


79 year old Richard Lawrence led us out of the high school parking lot with temperatures in the upper 40’s with about a 15 mph wind.  By afternoon under partly sunny skies, the wind had died down and high temps reached 61 degrees F.  Of the 4 men who finished in the lead group last year, I was back along with Brian Nieport and his teammate Bob Schoettinger on a tandem again, but with a new stoker – Melissa Cover whose longest ride was 130 miles.  Cover and I kept shouting out music rock groups/bands (such as Iron Butterfly, the Sex Pistols, Aerosmith, Duran Duran, New Order, Erasure, Enigma, Blink 182, & the Arcade Fire) at each other all day to help pass the time/miles. 


54 year old Dave Balfour in his HPV was the first to arrive at the South Solon checkpoint.  Our lead group of 23 arrived about a minute later covering the first 25 miles in one hour and five minutes (1:05).  We covered the first 50 mile loop in 2:15.  Although the HPV got up to five minutes ahead of us, we caught him by 100 miles which 18 of us completed in 4:35.  Two time Boston-Montreal-Boston winner and BMB course record holder Sandy Whittlesey dropped off our pack about 140 miles in.  13 riders covered the first 150 miles in 6:55.  On our fourth 50 mile loop, a broken spoke caused us to lose a rider.  What a bummer to be taken out by a mechanical so late in the event.  9 of us rode our first 200 miles in 9:15.  The Schoettinger/Cover tandem, Nieport, and David Young (first Calvin’s) did most of the pulling on the 50 mile laps.  On the 2nd-4th 50 mile laps, we all agreed to a piss stop about 35 miles into the loop, just after a railroad crossing. 


We had enough time left on the clock for eight or nine 7 mile laps.  On the second lap, Nieport attacked, and only Young and I had enough left to separately bridge up to him - making a new three man lead group.  Nieport misgauged his energy output, and dropped off Young and I on the fifth lap.  Young and I worked well together on the last three laps, but he had used up all of his pre-filled water bottles, so he got some bottles from my feeder at the school pit area.  We finished our eighth lap together (for 256 miles) with 15 minutes left on the clock.  All we needed were three more minutes (18 minutes left on the clock), and we could have ridden another lap for 263 miles.  Pacing yourself and watching the clock closely on those 7 mile loops can be very strategical to insure maximum mileage at Calvin’s.  I usually finish with very little wasted time left on the clock, but this year I blew it.   


So we waited at the school to see how many of those other riders who rode the first 200 miles with us would get our same mileage.  Nine minutes after us, an exhausted Nieport finished alone – getting his best Calvin’s mileage.  Two minutes after Nieport, current JMC champ John Jurczynski, Frank Sebode, 55 year old Larry Fitz, & Michael Flood all finished with 256 miles also.  Seven people are the biggest top mileage group ever at Calvin’s.  After pulling for much of the big 50 mile loops, the poor tandem had to settle for 249 miles, but still shattered the old mixed tandem record.  Also demolished was the old 55-59 class record by Fitz. 


I would like to thank Brian Nieport’s father Ernie for feeding me a bottle at South Solon on the last 50 mile loop, and Jeff “Bubba” Stephens for feeding me Sustained Energy on the 7 mile loops. 


I pointed out that endurance ultracycling events such as Calvin’s are REALITY at it’s best – riders falling back or dropping out as the distance, terrain, weather, and misfortune take their toll over time.  Why then can’t an event as supreme as RAAM draw in as many TV viewers and sponsors as CBS TV’s “Survivor”?  


I have finished with the lead group for all the Calvin’s 12 Hour Challenges I have ridden since 2000.  Before 2000, nobody had ever gone over 250 miles in the 12 hour event.  Here are my mileages:


2000 – 263 miles (Finished alone.)

2001 – 264 miles (Set course record doing 5 big loops with Wesley Wilmer.)

2002 – 256 miles (Finished with Mark Hekman & Steve Marshall.)

2003 – 256 miles (Finished with Mark Hekman, Steve Marshall, Jim Amelung, & Brian Tober.  HPV rider Frank Geyer finished about 5 minutes before us with same mileage.)

2004 – (Was 110 miles into event with Karen McKee, Tracy McKay, Gary Waggoner, & John Jurczynski in the lead group when Robert Bachtel’s death cancelled the event.)

2005 – 242 miles (Finished with Brian Nieport seconds behind Bob Schoettinger/Adam Fuson tandem.)

2006 – 256 miles (Finished with David Young.  9 minutes later, Brian Nieport finished.  Two minutes after Nieport, John Jurczynski, Frank Sebode, Larry Fitz, & Michael Flood all finished with the same mileage.  7 people are the biggest top mileage group ever at Calvin’s. 


Discarding 2004, my average miles ridden over 6 years are 256.17, so I was just slightly below my average this year. 


The course is a mostly flat 50 mile loop, but is has 36 turns making it almost like a giant criterium.  With little shelter from the wind, the big loop has two checkpoints (one at the start/finish area {Shawnee High School} and the other 25 miles into the loop in the town of South Solon) where riders have to stop and have their numbers punched.  At 3:30pm, the 7 mile loop opens, and riders have to finish the full lap within the 12 hour limit for it to count.  Potholes and bad sections of pavement were well marked with orange spray paint.