1000KM World Record by Marko Baloh, Recap

After all of the races being postponed through the 2020 season, I decided to do bring my loyal sponsors some attention and give them something to write about, by going for the World Record for the Fastest 1.000KM. On the way there were smaller fish to fry (11 shorter records on offer), the most important one being the 24h World Record. I was gunning for the 50+ records, but with an eye for the Overall, too, which is held be the great Christoph Strasser. More than anything I wanted to see how much slower (if any) I am 10 years after my finest hour - becoming the first person to ever cycle over 900km in 24 hours on a standard bike without drafting.

My preparation was solid, but not perfect after an injury sustained during the Virtual Race across the West. Still, I felt confident about going for the records, even for the 900+km in 24 hours again. As the race came closer, I felt confident and relaxed. Until two days prior to the start I start cleaning my TT bike just to discover the Di2 system is dead! I tried everything to fix it, charge the battery, nothing woke it up. A trip to my mechanic Grega later and some four hours of work to find the root of the problem, we figured out a couple of wires to the triathlon extension shifters were cut/damaged. Of course there was no way to only change the wires, but had to search for the shifters themselves. My other friend Igor stepped in and was kind enough to provide the shifters and made the bike rideable again. Start time minus 30 hours or so! That was tight! Don’T even want to consider what would happen if the Di2 decided to die when we were already at the start venue… A big thank you from the bottom of my heart to my friends Grega & Igor for their time and willingness to help me out in the time of need! Shows you we are nothing without people in our lives that support us. 

Of course the problems didn’t stop there. As we were approaching the start venue the night before the Start, I got a call from a local friend asking me what are we going to do with the shitty weather forecasted for Friday/Saturday? What? It looked perfectly normal a couple of day prior when I checked it out. We started checking our the different weather apps and all of them showed bad thunderstorms with heavy rains for the whole Friday/Saturday night. Thinking about it, the records were hard to be broken even in the nicest of weather possible, with heavy rains and wet roads it was just a no go… We arrive to the meting before the race the evening prior to start and everyone has this look of despair, what are we going to do? We inform them that a 24h postponement is allowed by the WUCA rules. So, now it is a question of who is able/willing to prolong their stay for a day and change their plans for Sunday, whatever they might be. I was so happy to see that we were unanimous! There was no one in the room that would object to the postponement. Again, another show of how much the support means…

On Friday morning I got to check the loop again. Did the two loops at a nice tempo before the heavy rains started. Other than that it was a nice time to recharge and put the legs up as much as possible. While praying that the rain would start in time for a Saturday afternoon start. We were supposed to have a meeting at noon, but postponed it as the rain was still not showing any intention to stop. The next meeting was at 2PM and hurray (!) the rain was subsiding slowly. The plan was to start 24h after the originally planned time, meaning at 5PM Saturday, with an option to postpone it for another 2h, after that it would have meant the cancellation. Fortunately the roads were all dry and I could put on my clothing and get the TT bike ready for the start. Finally! Every ultracyclist can attest to that - the start line of an ultra event is the most peaceful place on the planet for a racer! After the hectic last days of preparation, there is nowhere you would like to be more than riding your bike towards your big goal. So, when I was released from the Start Line on Saturday July 25th at 5PM sharp, I felt like in heaven. My fast bike under me, my legs pumped up and pumping the pedals and my faithful crew all around me, ready to offer support when needed.

I had so much fun during the first hours. I was able to effortlessly hold average speed of 25+mph and just a big thunderstorm less than an hour into the attempt managed to slow me down during the 15 minutes it lasted and also some two hours later as the turns stayed wet and I had to take them slower to stay upright. Still I was on a good way to still all the records, even the overall one for 24 hours.  Unfortunately I had an unplanned bathroom break after 5h or so (after I managed to break the first three shorter records. 100km, 100miles and 200km). I had to stop for no.2 and because of diarrhea it took gigantic 11 minutes, which dropped my average way down. But it had to be done and was worth it as I could push the pedals normally again. I also used the break to put on an additional layer of clothing as the night was supposed to be a bit colder than anticipated. Another great solution as I didn’t need any additional stop for the night/morning chill.

5AM and 12 hours into the ride, my lap averages were still descent and my 12h distance was 452+km. Knowing first hand how much the speed drops in the second part of the 24h ride, it was becoming painfully obvious that the overall 24h record will this time stay out of my reach. Of course I kept pushing as the 1000km was still way within my reach. As expected I began slowing down, unfortunately I did slow down way more than I did 10 or 12 years ago during my first two 24h World Record attempts. I had one more long pit stop after finishing the 24h which brought me another 50+ World Record with 856,3km. Part of the reasons for the stop was for the media (the photographers wanted me in to make some photos after finishing the first part), some that I needed to stop for a quick clean up and a massage to continue for the remaining 144km or so. I also changed the bikes for a more comfortable, but still very fast Spiegel San Marino. Due to afternoon heat, I also changed the helmet from a TT one to the road helmet.

The wind during the last hours was strange at best, slowing me down in the three quarters of the loop. The only thing I could do it keep the aero position and keep pushing those pedals. No stop if necessary, I only stopped one more time for a short pee break as it was just not possible to do it from the bike in the persistent wind. The 1000KM line came after 50 laps done, 1300m after the Start/Finish Line and I passed it at 28h 50min 14sec. Just a quick stop for the photo session again and I prolonged the ride until the next turn at Genterovci, so the WUCA responsible person can calculate the prorated time for the 1000km.

I am super happy with the ride! The crew did an excellent job as always and so did the officials. Certainly a day to remember, I would like to thank everyone who was a part of this project. Especially the spectators who gave me extra energy and strength, thank you all!

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