Sunday, January 5, 2014

Amelia Sixty Nine - 6/9 Hour Endurance - Hialeah, Fl

Amelia Sixty Nine
9 Hour Coed Team - 1st Place

Beata Wronska – BIKE TECH and Filippo Barbieri - TEAM PUSH UCI ELITE TEAM, but today we rode proudly also as our own creation Lean, Mean and Green Team. :-)

We did awesome, it was a long and exhausting day on the trails, but we had a good time and we gave everything we had. We pushed some amazing times that ultimately lead us to the victory.
It was gloomy and rainy for the first part of the day so the course was difficult and slick, but thankfully we managed without major issues and raced well into the dark and to the podium...

Beata Wronska – BIKE TECH and Filippo Barbieri - TEAM PUSH UCI ELITE TEAM - 1st Place

Here we go…

There is always time in life to try something new. And I exactly felt this time around like doing so.

I raced before six and twelve hour solo races and knew by know what they bring, how they feel and what to expect from them. They are awesome and tough and a very steady paced, however this time I wanted it to be different and I was set to have an awesome time racing a coed team. I was looking for a change of pace, more intensity and explosive riding, and to enjoy it with a mate and to get a different perspective on the same event.

Luckily for me when on the quest for this perfect team mate I found exactly what I was looking for and am extremely glad that the person that I really wanted to greatly race with was as happy as I was to unite forces…

So Filippo Barbieri and I were very excited and were looking forward to this amazing challenge. Since we never raced before naturally we went together to pre-ride the course. Honestly watching Filippo ride and float on the bike through the trails was very inspiring and I was very happy to ride in such great company.

Hopes for the race day were that the meteorologists are going to be mistaken once again and the predicted downpour at 5pm was not going to happen. But while driving in the morning to the race site the sky turned gloomy and was covered with thick grey clouds.

The plans to be early on the race site also turned a little differently and I was hoping it was not going to affect our race plans since there was so much to do to set up for such a long day. But I stayed composed and knew we will pull through.

So many team tents were lined up on both sides of the feed zone and were filled with a bunch of good friends or simply people that love to ride their bikes. It was great to see everyone out there… Our Bike Tech Tent was also filled with pretty much all the team riders ready for a big riding day…

BikeTech Team Tent
While Filippo was warming up I was pacing left and right running the whole race preparation in my head. It was weird not to start when the gun goes off and at the same time calming and stressing, since now I had to worry about my team mate and that everything was going to be fine. It definitely affected both of us. While on and off the course we both felt responsible for each other and it was not a race only for myself anymore but for both of us.
Filippo at the Le Mans start

Filippo in the twisty trails

And he was off. It was an awfully long run to the bikes which were placed on the ground. I remember exactly how exhausting running in biking shoes is. After getting on the bike I counted Filippo to be 13th into the trails and our competition was very nearby. I was confident however that he will do great and I was in the meantime scrambling to get myself ready for the race. Filippo pulled great lap times and by the time it was my turn we had a nice little gap which we were hoping to maintain.

Wrist band swap at transition

We switched wristband in the transition area and I was off. I don’t know how really it happened but I felt very strong right from the start. Even though the beginning of the race is always hard and it takes time to lower the heart rate and calm the breathing but I knew it was going to be great lap. And it was, probably one of the best ones I ever had. I was flying no matter what the course threw at me, it had to be the first time ever that I realized what those tiny double jump humps were for. First time ever I was actually flying nicely over them, and it felt so good. I was carving the turns, loving the downhills and attacking the uphills. I was definitely in the zone. Only thing that was slowing me down was the light rain which we started experiencing after the start and it continued for almost the first half of the race. There were damp and very muddy sections on the course, with wet roots and also slick corners. Knowing that we have a whole day of racing it was wise to take precautions in the parts like this.

Team work captured

For the first time ever I didn’t have to worry about anyone passing me besides one guy I think in the whole nine hour race. Usually I am the one that has to pull to the side and let guys go by but this time I had riders giving me the right of way and letting me go. Very good feeling really and everyone was amazingly pleasant. I remember a group of cheering guys on top of the big climb section standing there quietly and watching people ride by and suddenly yelling “oh yeah, this is how it’s done” when I was charging up the hill. It was very cool and motivating. Love those little things that make racing so much more special.

When I got to the transition my lap time was in the low 37 minute mark and speed of 13.3 mph. I was happy but man it was exhausting. Going all out for one lap of 8.2 miles is definitely very tough and very draining. Best part was that we were about to do it over and over again for the whole day. When it was Filippo’s turn he went for a two lapper. I couldn’t even imagine how that would feel if you don’t treat is as a normal race and just bring your pace down to be able to handle the distance. But he managed to have very good lap times.  And then there was time for me to go for two laps in the row to allow my partner to rest up and eat something solids as I did. When I started I felt very good again and rode the lap as it was my only one and had even a faster time than on the first one, also in the 37 minute mark with 13.4 mph this time. But the following lap definitely felt so much more difficult and I still remember this amazing burn in my legs and wondering how crazy it is going to be to bike so hard for the whole day. Therefore the following lap was a bit slower and I lost maybe a minute which wasn’t so bad. Our lead increased to a more evident seven minutes but it was not enough to get comfortable. We knew we had to be at our top performance throughout the race. By now I was pretty tired. When you do a few all out efforts, empty your muscle stores, race your heart rate to the max levels, get sweaty, muddy, hungry, your body just collapses in the chair and doesn’t want to do much more.

B on the berm

And you sit there, and start getting cold, icky, uncomfortable….

Since there on we decided to ride one lap at the time. There was so little time in between. By the time you sit down, take your shoes off, drink, eat, and change to fresher and drier clothes, it’s time to get up and warm up and go again, and again and again… Doing so many time trails in a row throughout the day happened to be more difficult than I could have expected. But we kept on going…

Pushing on the winding uphill

The sky was still gloomy but at least it wasn’t raining anymore. Things slowly started to dry out but when looking at the time we still had quite a while to go. At some point I saw Filippo dropping his chain in the tight single-track. It was a little scary but he arrived once again safely and with a good time. All I could do was just wait and hope that everything was going to be fine. There was no chance I could have gone anywhere near the course to even watch him ride, since every ounce of energy that I had left I had to save for my next turn, so I waited. At some point when I was in the trails still hammering and suffering and enjoying riding at the same time I heard the announcement of the six hour race winners. It had to be nice I thought, but still we had four hours to go since we started a full hour later for our nine hour race.

On the carpeted hill


Trails were getting emptier now but for us the race was still on full force. Not much later I was going on my final lap without the required lights, simply it started slowly getting dark. Most of the trails were still pretty well lit maybe for a few darker and creepier parts which were going to get much creepier later on…


Filippo was first to go with the light, but still it wasn’t completely dark. I was happy we were probably the most lit team on the course. We had exactly same setup of Light&Motion Seca 2000 on the helmet and Taz 1000 on the bar.
Filippo with Light & Motion in action

When I took off with my lights on it wasn’t pitch black yet, but the park was getting darker and darker with each passing minute. Only thing that I was not looking forward riding in the dark was the creepy, muddy, dark and uninviting section on the far back side of the course. But when I eventually got there it wasn’t all so bad and I managed to get out of there pretty quickly. Biking fast in the dark and in the middle of the forest was such a different experience of what we had during the day. It was this whole new and unknown universe.

Getting ready for my turn at night
The ample amount of light coming off from me was lighting up the path, the trees and those amazing tree air roots hanging down like in a tropical rain forest. Everything looked so beautiful and so mysterious. Tiny bugs were flying by me like snowflakes from moving in a high speed car. At some point a family of raccoons galloped away from the path I was riding on, while another one decided to cross my path, grab some snack on the right and still run back to where he came from, all of it while I was riding toward it. Hope it was something really yummy and worth scaring both of us. :) I got slammed by a moth straight in the face and was working hard to keep my mouth shut as much as I could in order to not eat any living additional nutrition to what I had preset for the race as my Cliff products.

Also during the final laps I experienced this overwhelming headache from constantly overworking the system. 

Working as a Team well into the dark

This lap was definitely slower and especially in the very twisty sections things were coming up at you pretty fast, therefore I chose to take my time there after some tree log jumped out from nowhere in one corner right at me. It was all good however and a really nice experience and to make things better it was my thankfully final lap. One more switch and it was now Filippo heading once more into the darkness. And like he admitted afterwards, he really flew, just like there was no darkness at all. He pulled an amazing final lap time which not only confirmed our victory but also gave us a whole lap completed on the rest of the teams.

It was an incredible day and performance for both of us. I’m very glad we decided to ride together and share this experience.

Beata with Light & Motion in action

After a very nice award ceremony it was time to pack up all the gear and head home to rest up for the next challenge. As for Filippo he had his five year old son already impatiently awaiting his dad’s beautiful trophy that was almost his height and welcomed it with a big smile on his face…

Soaking up the Victory...
Little Alessandro with his fathers trophy!

My Pax did a tremendous job being our Team Manager and simply great team mate. When I was too exhausted to make my own drink or do really anything he had everything lined up for me. He made sure Filippo also got everything he needed and also had time in between caring for both of us, giving us splits and taking pictures. He was pretty tired at the end of the day almost as we were…

Pax sporting L&M Solite next to our Bike Tech tent and my bike on the Kuat rack after a long day of supporting both of us!

We had a lot of amazing people cheering for us and encouraging us which I always love and appreciate.

It was another good day out there on our bikes, doing simply what we love to do…
And it's amazing how our passion directly affects everyone around us, our spouses, families, kids. By doing what we love we also bring a lot of new people to the sport and hopefully new generations or racing fanatics...

Filippo and I super happy after the race..
Beata Wronska – BIKE TECH and Filippo Barbieri - TEAM PUSH UCI ELITE TEAM
Huge thanks to All our amazing sponsors and especially Light & Motion for the incredible support and for allowing us to race fast even after the sun was long gone...

Also to my husband Pax who was our Team Manager for the day and kept tabs on us and made sure we had everything that was needed during this long and demanding race! He did incredible job and I'm very grateful that he commits all his free time to helping me achieve my goals.

All three of us did an incredible job today! I'm supper happy and glad and grateful for such an amazing team!

B with Specialized "Sollie" after the race

Of course my life is easier, my bike is faster my body is stronger and my dreams are possible because of all my amazing Sponsors:
Bike Tech Miami, Syntace, Magura USA, Stan’s Notubes, Schwalbe, ESI Grips, Clif, Xpedo, Trainer Road, Garden of Life, Pro Gold Lubricants, Kuat Racks, Light & Motion, KT tape and New for 2014 - Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, Huub and Rotor Bike Components!

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