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excerpted interview with Lon Haldeman(9 posts)

excerpted interview with Lon HaldemanJS Haiku Shop
May 19, 2003 11:51 AM
heard about this in a message on the UC listserv. excerpted these Q&As from a chicago tribune article. nice dose of perspective. really enjoy how he's matter-of-fact about riding thousand mile weeks.



As a founder, record-holder and director of Race Across America (RAAM), plus leader of a number of other long-distance rides, Lon Haldeman knows ultra biking.

Q. What are your key pieces of equipment you won't ride without?

A. It depends on the type of ride. A helmet, of course, but items such as the proper shoes, saddle and bike position make a big difference on longer rides.

Q. How much water do you consume?

A. Depends on the heat. When I race across the desert, I consume one ounce per minute if it is over 100 degrees. At 70 degrees I might drink only 15 ounces per hour.

Q. What's the worst mishap you've had while in an ultra biking event?

A. Most of the problems are logistical. The crew is always working on possible problems before they affect me. We broke a custom carbon fiber tandem frame 36 hours before a race once. We had to ship it to the builder for repairs. We got it back one hour before the race and reassembled it just in time to start the ride.

Q. How many tires do you typically go through in RAAM and/or training?

A. A front tire can last 3,000 miles and a rear tire can last 2,000 miles. However, in RAAM we are changing tires every 500 miles because they get cut or nicked on road debris.

Q. How do you handle on-road repair and what do you carry for this purpose?

A. I actually teach a class called "The Organic Mechanic," where I fix my bike from junk found on the side of the road. Knowing how your bike works makes it easier to decide how to fix things. I still carry a basic tire pump, inner tube and a few special wrenches.

Q. What do you think of during those long miles on the road? Does your focus shift for competition?

A. I ride best when I am thinking about how to go faster. I'm always doing a mental checklist of logistical details: how much to eat and drink, weather conditions, fatigue and mental focus.

I don't listen to music during intense races.

Q. Do you strive to get in a zone? If so, how do you accomplish it in training and competing?

A. I always have a countdown to big events. For RAAM it is hard to peak more than once every two or three years.

The effort is so intense you can't push yourself that hard every year.

During the final two weeks before RAAM, I am wound up pretty tight. I always remember the worst times from past races.

I need to remember the pain so I am not surprised when I start to feel bad.

Q. How do you know the status of competitors during the long-distance events?

A. There are time stations every 50 miles during RAAM that are linked to the Web site. With the recent Web site technology, it is easy to watch RAAM unfold at home [www.raceacros]. In the old days, we only received updates once or twice a day from a pay-phone hot line.

Q. How do you train your sleeping habits for the ultra long-distance events?

A. You can't store up sleep. The best thing is to get in great shape and understand how your body will respond to extreme fatigue.

A smart rider will always stay rested and be able to recover before they are exhausted.

Q. How often and how long will you sleep during an ultra-distance event?

A. During the Tandem Transcontinental Record with Pete Penseyres, we crossed the country in 7 days, 14 hours.

We had six sleep breaks of 1.5 hours each. That is nine hours total sleep.

We actually felt pretty good the entire ride, but we are glad we didn't have to ride through another night.

Q. What piece of equipment or gear wears out the most?

A. I ride a one-speed bike, so I save a lot of wear on derailleurs. The chain still wears out. They only cost $5 so I put on a new one every 3,000 miles.

the restJS Haiku Shop
May 19, 2003 11:52 AM
Q. Do you eat differently when preparing for a race?

A. I try not to get too fat in the winter. When I am training 1,000 miles per week, I tend to lose weight faster.

Q. Worst injury?

A. I have been very lucky the past 400,000 miles. My knees and joints still feel pretty good. I have never been hit by a car. All my skin is intact. I try to be cautious and expect the worst.

Q. Most grueling hill?

A. Old Route 14 going up the Big Horns in Wyoming. Lots of sections steeper than 10 percent for many miles. I usually average 5 m.p.h. for 20 miles on this grade.

Q. Most miles ridden straight?

A. 810 miles from Los Angeles to Albuquerque in 46 hours. Then I slept 2 hours and rode 400 miles into Kansas the next day.

Q. How many bikes does an ultra biker usually have?

A. Maybe a day bike, a night bike and a spare bike. Sometimes I might bring several for a cross-country race, but one usually ends up being my favorite after a few days.

Q. Do you, or others, typically compete on the bikes used for training?

A. I have beater bikes and good bikes. I think it is important to train on the same bike you will be racing on to be sure it is reliable and comfortable.

Q. What's the worst weather to ride in?

A. When it is hot in the desert, I wish for rain. When it rains, I wish for sun. Cross-country racing includes all the extremes.

One time crossing Colorado it went from 100 degrees in the valley at noon to 30 degrees on the mountaintop at midnight with snow.

I just put on more clothes and froze going down the mountain until sunrise the next morning.

Q. What kind of support effort did you have when you rode across America?

A. I have been fortunate to have always had the support of my parents. Even when I was just starting to ride 200- and 300-mile distances, they would always help me train and support me during the rides.

My wife, Susan, has been a big help since she understands being a competitor and what I needed during an event.

Q. Best feeling?

A. I have never felt like celebrating at the end of a race, even if I won. The finish of a race is always anticlimactic for me. The best long-term feeling is knowing that all the planning and training has come together and I did what I expected to do. I have been fortunate to have many support crew members who maintained that same focus beyond the finish line.
"I have been very lucky the past 400,000 miles" LMAO (nm)biknben
May 19, 2003 12:20 PM
He's around here this week, do'n this thingMR_GRUMPY
May 19, 2003 12:06 PM
He has a group doing 200K yesterday, 300K today,400K on Tues, and 600K on Thurs.
that's one way to qualify for PBP!JS Haiku Shop
May 19, 2003 12:08 PM
it's also a good way to qualify for therapy.
He and Susan would keep you sane.dzrider
May 19, 2003 1:01 PM
I rode some of the BMB Quad Century ride with them last year and their spirit, humor, and experience is great to be around. I wish I had the budget for a PAC tour! It must be a great time.
Great Q&A! Thanks! (nm)PseuZQ
May 19, 2003 2:09 PM
re: excerpted interview with Lon Haldemanbic
May 19, 2003 4:28 PM
Went on a group ride with Lon almost 30 years ago. I lived in Rockford Il, then. He rode from Elgin, IL. About 50 miles away. Dropped everyone I knew of. Then rode back home. Just a days ride. LOL
I'm envious nmDougSloan
May 19, 2003 7:53 PM