Bob Willix NC Border-to-Border Record October 10-11, 2018 Rider’s Narrative Summary
- Record attempt: North Carolina Border-to-Border, West to East
- Name of rider: Bob Willix
- Start date and exact start time to the nearest minute: Wednesday morning, October 10, 2018 at 4:00 a.m.
- Exact start location described so that someone else could find the same spot: Murphy, NC Courthouse at 75 Peachtree Street, Murphy, NC 28906
- What were conditions like? Absolutely Epic!!! We started at 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and 30 minutes later it started raining because Hurricane Michael was approaching from the Gulf of Mexico. It basically never stopped raining for almost the entire record attempt! We had numerous challenges, from closed roads to incredibly high winds at the end when approaching the eye of the storm.
- Why did you want to do a record? I’ve known Terry Landsdell for many years and he holds the 49 and under record. I also had met Jim Casper several years ago, who has the current (until now) age group record. BOTH men are amazing individuals that were very gracious and kind in supporting me to break their records. As an endurance athlete, I’ve done many events, but I’d never ridden this far. My farthest bike race up to this point had been the Washington, NC 24-hour RAAM qualifier where I had gone 375 miles at one time. Although I did RAAM in 2016 on a 4-man team and had done approximately 900 miles in that 6-day event, it still wasn’t this far at one time.
I’m always looking for a bigger challenge!
- What equipment did you use?Anything special? I had 3 bikes. My Road bike (Time carbon RXRS) that was used primarily in the mountains on the east side of the state and equipped with lightweight climbing wheels, and then I switched to my Time Trial Bike (Trek TTX) when I got into the flatter sections of the state. My time trial bike had a solid HED disc wheel on the back and a deep dish 90mm Front. We had a backup road bike (Cannondale) in case anything happened to my other 2 bikes, and that’s exactly what happened! My Time Road bike front derailleur broke at approximately mile 90 ish and I had to switch over to the Cannondale Road bike for the rest of the climbing sections and then in the last part of the race when the winds were so high that I couldn’t physically stay on the Time Trial bike!
- What did you eat & drink? You name it! Malto with electrolytes is my main carb drink, then everything else was pizza, chips, little bit of chocolate, chicken sandwiches, coffee, espresso, coke, Gatorade, Powerade, juices with salt added, sandwiches with peanut butter and honey, pancakes with syrup, fruit.
- What was the best part? That’s really hard to say, but probably the point at approximately mile 400, when we still had over 150 miles to go and I was hypoglycemic, unable to think clearly and not sure that I was going to be able to finish. My crew gathered around me and gave me the “talk” which was so incredibly motivating, that it brought me to tears and made me realize that this race/attempt was not about me, but rather about these beautiful people that had sacrificed so much to help me to get to the finish line in the Outer Banks!
- What was the hardest part? The 2nd to last bridge going in to the Outer Banks where the wind gusts were so incredibly high that at times, I wasn’t sure I was going to physically be able to get over the bridge. I had to stop several times to unclip and gather my wits before continuing. You could hear the howling of the storm all around us! My crew was awesome at keeping me safe and making sure we finished.
- I’d like to personally thank my coach, John Hughes, for doing such an amazing job in getting me ready and believing in me for all of those months of training. I’d also like to let all of my fellow athletes know that anything is possible! If there are any athletes in need of coaching services, I am an endurance athlete and have been coaching triathletes, cyclists and runners for many years. You can find more information here: www.willixhealth.com
- Did anything particularly unusual happen?Quite a few things. Here’s the list:
- Derailleur broke at mile 90 on my lightweight climbing road bike. Details above.
- Somewhere around 1:18pm on day 1, Wednesday, there was a road closed because of a downed power line in the road with NO way to reroute except over the mountain on a gravel road that would have been impossible to ride a bike over. I walked my bike down someone’s driveway and through a field to bypass the downed power line, while my crew drove the support cars over the mountain on the gravel road to reconnect with me!
- 1:34 a.m. on Thursday the 11th the road was closed because of a major accident (we think there had been a fatality) and we couldn’t proceed forward with NO re-routing possible because of the section of the state we were in. We were delayed until 2:37 a.m. so I took advantage of it and took a 30-minute nap during that time frame, but that caused significant time delay that was out of our control. We passed as soon as highway patrol cleared the road.
- Lastly, HurricaneMichael was in the Gulf of Mexico when we started, and we were basically racing it across the state. It hit landfall on the coast of North Carolina right before we finished, so at mile 501 the winds were so high (gusting up to 40 and 50 mph) that it was almost impossible to stay on the bike. We took a 30-minute break in the car for me to gather my senses and for everyone to talk about the safety of the event continuing. We all agreed at that time, that I’d try to get on the bike for 10 more miles and potentially appeal the record attempt with a plea for time bonus, BUT after I started riding I was able to stay on the bike. Even though the winds were still gusting up into the 40mph range, somehow, I was able to keep upright, and we proceeded with extreme caution until the finish line, with my crew and officials constantly assessing whether it was safe enough to continue. I never felt that my life was ever in danger, but it was definitely not a weather condition that anyone would typically choose to ride in. They had evacuated most of the outer banks before we got there, and after it was over we couldn’t stay at our hotel because the small bridge on the main road was flooded from the winds literally “pushing” the ocean onto the road-it was impassable!
- Exact finish location described so that someone else could find the same spot. Dare County Courthouse: 962 Marshall C Collins Dr, Manteo, NC 27954
- Exact finish time: Thursday, October 11, 2018 @ 11:16PM