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Do(u)g et al: ultra team training, logistics, & sponsorship(7 posts)

Do(u)g et al: ultra team training, logistics, & sponsorshipJS Haiku Shop
Dec 26, 2003 10:12 AM
a threesome of us low-IQ southerners are planning to race as a mixed team in the Heart of the South 500. The HOS 500 is a first-year 500-mile time trial starting in Birmingham, Alabama.

We've got 1/2 a 6-person crew, legs of rubber, and no money. But at least we've never done anything like this before.

My teammates rode their first centuries last year. One of them (TNSquared--a marathonner) went on to ride a 134 in September, and the other was kind enough to pull me up hills on a double century (same day). So we're all fairly matched and within a few IQ points of each other. And we don't whine, and don't quit. We're realistic: doing this as a race against ourselves, against logistics, against the course--probably (almost certainly) not against other teams. I don't see us riding a 20+ mph 500.

For training, I figure we ride lots between now and April. Each of us has a certain strength, and I'm very happy to have been identified as "descender". We have enough vacation time, enough equipment, enough dark riding experience, and enough determination.

But, my math says we need to put together around $6k to do this on a budget. After the grand successes of raising sponsorship for our 'cross series(mostly in the form of schwag & gear, but also a few hundred $ for equipment & food), I'm hoping to do the same for our team effort.

At present I'm thinking about a website, team emails and snail mail, team kits ("Team Your Name Here"), and I have no idea what else. There seem to be a few companies out there who will use the opportunity for sponsorship of a team or race effort in the light of a "charitable" or "not for profit" write-off, or "donation". Still more may be interested in getting involved, or associating their name with an effort of this magnitude.

So do tell: advice, opinions, experience, reflection, and hints on securing sponsorship. Need your help.

some thoughtsDougSloan
Dec 26, 2003 1:11 PM
Is this a leapfrog team approach (like the 508) or a working together team (like the TdF)? That makes a difference in the logistics and approach.

Assuming it's leapfrog, you can get by with 2 vans for 3-4 riders. That will allow one van to follow a rider at night, then have the next one be ready for the handoff so no time is lost in transition.

I cannot possibly see how this would cost $6k, unless you are including bikes or other non-consumables. The costs are entry fees, gas, maybe a couple nights' motels, food, and some signage/lights for the vans. I'd guess more like $1,500 total would do it.

For training, you should forget ultra type training for the most part and focus on SPEED. You go out for 2-10 miles at a time and basically timetrial at your threshold or higher. I was routinely doing 25 mph on the flats and climbing nearly twice as fast as I would have done if solo. You need to train for this by doing centuries, except do them in 5-10 mile intervals with about equal time rest in between, just noodling to keep moving. Get low and aero and used to that position. Get used to eating and drinking in between, then holding it down as you go full throttle (not puking becomes a challenge).

I know nothing about fund raising or sponsorship. I never even tried.

Oh, if you are the "descender", then I guess you'll give that 56 a workout! ;-)

I'd be happy to answer more q's, if you want.

answersJS Haiku Shop
Dec 26, 2003 1:37 PM

figured expenses:

renting two 15-passenger vans
entry fees
food and lodging for crew
transportation to & from home (4 hour drive)
safety/lighting for vans
lights for the bikes/riders

i'm including that last one because it's a significant expense and we don't all have them. and those that we do have, are without redundancy, spares, car chargers, etc.

my hope was to recruit backing from a lighting manufacturer, for the whole team (of 3).

and more...but i'm running for the door and will email you this weekend.

:( the 56 is too big for my look. can't get the braze-on derailleur high enough to clear it. do the french have no quads? you'd think with jalabert over there, they'd provide plenty of clearance.

bet it won't be too big for the specialized sworks m4 (festina).
more questionsTNSquared
Dec 27, 2003 8:42 AM
I can already tell that I don't have a friggin' clue what I'm getting into here. What you've described, Doug, sounds like one long, grueling, intense, speed interval session - with a little sleep deprivation thrown in for fun. Sounds like a party to me! :)

I assumed the turns on the bike would be considerably longer, and therefor so would the rest periods in between. The frequent, short riding bursts and relatively short recovery periods (especially with a 3 person team) you've described must present some unique problems.

So what physical and psychological effects should we be prepared to deal with, and what routine do you follow between each riding turn to deal with lack of sleep, muscle tighness, etc? At a 20 mph avg (amibitious for us) and 10 mile legs, there will be only about an hour between each riding turn. Allowing time to prepare for and then load up after, that doesn't leave much time to nap, stretch and eat. I figure it will take our team at least 30 hours to complete the race. How do you deal with the lack of sleep? What about staying limber and loose between turns? An hour is just enough time to stiffen up, and since you probably want to hit full speed right from the beginning of each leg, how do you keep from completely locking up?

Please share anything you've learned from your torture sessions, I mean race experience, that will help me survive this thing.

start hereJS Haiku Shop
Dec 27, 2003 6:01 PM

and search for "dog" and "poodle". but read everything.

then, go to, and read everything.

then, pound a 5" nail through your arm. several times.

we will have an illegal amount of fun, Todd.

JK is also interested. could be a 4-person team.

but i still want the long turns.


ps. you need to be riding 1000+ - mile months in jan & feb. i may stand corrected by Do(u)g.

T, you are more than able. YOU are--both--the next Belgian Hardman, and the Next Greatest Cycling Advocate East of the Continental Divide. true, dat.

bring it.
start hereDougSloan
Dec 29, 2003 7:33 AM
Whew. For a minute there I thought you said "1000+ miles a *week*." I was going to tell you you were crazy. Yes, I would suggest at least amount per month, even with the extra intensity you need for the relays.

We found the shorter pulls worked better, particularly on the climbs. Of course, long descents, leave one guy on the bike the whole way.

For the flats and long climbs, have a plan, but work out some signals and use 2 way radios. For example, plan on a pull of 5-10 miles, but then if you start to blow, give your follow van a signal and have them radio up that you need relief. Of course, count on at least 2-3 minutes for the next guy to get set up. The pulls also likely will get shorter as the race progresses.

I don't think you need 15 passenger vans, and you might even be better off with something smaller. They don't handle well, and may not be able to keep up on long twisty descents, which is important at night. They can be dangerous, according to some reports I've seen. A regular van or larger mini-van are perfectly fine. All you need is two seats for crew up front, then preferably a bench seat for the two riders, and so one can lie down when the other is riding. I could never sleep, anyway, as I was too hyped up from riding, needing to eat and drink, take pills, fill bottles, etc., and monitor the race.

Try to get a rear mount bike rack, preferably one that allows the bikes to keep the front wheels on and makes it easy to pull bikes off and on quickly. Reinstalling front wheels every pull is a real pain, and a recipe for disaster should a quick release not be tight. Forget roof racks, except for maybe back-up bikes.

Have the two riders in each van share stuff, if possible. For example, take only one ice chest, one big jug of SE, or whatever. This may cut down on interior clutter. Use one gallon plastic water jugs. Anything else is too cumbersome. Might be good if everyone uses the same drive train (for rear wheel changes), too, but not essential.

I'm sorry to tell you, but this is *not* "fun." It is pure hell, if you are really racing. Don't know if you've ever done a 10 mile time trial, but picture doing over a dozen of them in 24 hours. Of course, some pulls will be shorter, but all that means is that you go even harder. I was on the edge of puking my guts up for half the race. By half way, my legs were so sore that it took a good minute or so to get going each turn. It hurts bad. It really is literally one very long interval session, and we all think intervals are fun, right?

Now, it may not be "fun," but it is rewarding, or at least something different and interesting. It is extremely competitive, as other teams will be close to yours the whole time, you may swap positions a lot, and you go hard because you don't want to be the one letting your team down. When you are being chased or chasing an opponent in sight, you won't believe the adrenaline.

Train hard, prepare early, and good luck.

more logistics thoughtsDougSloan
Dec 29, 2003 8:39 AM
1. Have everyone use the same lights. If this is the kind of event where a crew vehicle follows you at night, then you hardly need lights, especially in Alabama, where I would not expect long, twisty 60 mph descents. Using the same lights allows everyone to exchange lights and batteries if something goes wrong on the bike. I suggest the small Cateye LED lights. They will go all night, are trouble free, and not expensive.

2. Plan your pulls for the course. Stop signs make a good place to hand-off, as someone needs to stop anyway. Hill summits are good. The slower, the better, at hand-off time. Be flexible, though, espeically later in the race.

3. Have one crew person who makes the ultimate calls on the pulls, etc. No time for committee decisions or democracy. That person should be a good listener and know what's going on, though. Oh, and your riders' brains will be mush after a while.

4. Everyone should know the route. Nothing is more frustrating as a racer than giving your all down the wrong road or sitting at an intersection waiting for directions.

More later.