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Kimberly Clark Professional is the corporate sponsor for Paul's World Record cycle across Europe

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Paul thanks all his sponsors

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Paul is proud to support Lupus sufferers worldwide

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A Win's a Win. How Was Your Weekend?

Well maybe not the MOST fun day! But it was over - 362 miles in 24 hours. I would like to look see and check how many of those hours I was actually riding. That is an average speed of 15mph -  including the time I spent sitting on my bum not on my bike or even laying under a truck sheltering!! First place in  my age category. I did 50 laps - the guy I was chasing did 53 laps.  There was no overall place to chase - just a pride thing for me. So I consider myself second overall!   Pretty damn happy with this result. Looking forward to the next race. You live and learn every time - I definitely learned a lot in this one, hopefully to take on to the next ride. But hey - a win’s a win and I am definitely happy with that!

Afterwards - the worst part - trying to recover! I felt like death at the end. I had to go take my tent down where really I just wanted to fall asleep - way too hot to consider that. I packed everything up and then waited for the awards - there were so many different categories ….. seemed to take forever  It was awesome but I was standing there falling asleep on my feet!  At the end I hopped in the car and set off for the Trading Post in the Canyon - possibly ate some of the worst food ever - TIP: don’t ever go to the Trading Post in the Canyon - but I was so hungry I ate it anyway!! Then I drove to Amarillo, struggling to stay awake! I stopped at the first hotel I saw - Holiday Inn Express - when I eventually managed to check in - I walked straight into my room, fell on the bed and passed out. Woke up later for some food - just Burger King - then back to bed for a few more hours! Woke at 2.30 am - still hungry - what’s open at this time of the morning? Waffle House of course! Back to bed, woke again at 9, ate and was then ready for that long drive back to Colorado!That was my weekend - how was yours??

What's the Furthest you have Cycled in One Day, Paul?

So I headed out on my first loop - looks like they were going to take about 17 - 20 minutes. so I decided to do three loops and then would return to the tent to refill my water bottle and grab food and water! I did this a few times but then realised it was too long before filling up my bottle. Two laps would be better.  There was a water station close by with some lovely girls serving ice cold water, which I think really made a difference too - I had read an article recently about ice cold water hydrating much better than at normal temperature?? Definitely seemed to be working for me! So my new routine was two laps, water, two laps , water and then return to the tent for some food.  I was sticking with the smoked salmon - think I am going to give up with the energy bars - I can only eat a couple now before the sight of them makes me feel sick. I am definitely not buying any more until I use up all the hundreds I seem to have!

I am starting to feel a lot better now - much stronger.It was kind of fun figuring out the best way to ride the loop, which gear to be in  with each hill, when to pedal faster etc etc.  It was a nice feeling overtaking people constantly - you are allowed to draft inside the Canyon so every now and then I would be able to tuck in behind a couple of guys going faster and then get a little bit of a rest at high speed, before pulling off after a few minutes. So I pretty much stayed on this schedule for the next few hours, stopping to eat after 4 laps. Then I started looking at the clock - 11 o'clock. Really? i am not even half way? Seemed like I had done that lap a million times. So at about midnight I went to my tent with the original plan of heating up some stew I had brought. Of course I didn’t have a lighter!  So - cold stew and more salmon! Then I decided to recharge my lights and my Garmin so I plugged them in and lay down for a while - 10 minutes, then I decided on another 10 minutes. It was weird - I was laying there wide awake, but completely exhausted. I didn’t want to move and found it hard to keep my eyes open but I was still wide awake - there was no way I was falling asleep! Maybe it was the 5 hour energy boost, along with all the other gels and caffeine!!! So after about 25 minutes I carried on.  But I think the rest helped - I was feeling good and it felt better in the cooler evening temperatures.  I started riding really strong - rode all night like this, feeling good.  I was looking forward to the sun rising - still 6 hours to go! I kept to the same schedule and really believe that smoked salmon saw me through! Bike felt awesome and this schedule really suited me. I should have had more water bottles of course. After my laps I would sit down for a while - which was good to have a rest - but I felt it would have been nice to have a support crew and maybe not have stopped quite so much. During the night I had asked my position in the race - it seemed I was way ahead in my age category but I was more concerned about my overall place.  Second - 4 laps behind.  Then in the middle of the night this guy started talking to me - turns out he was the leader. he was at about maybe 255 miles when i was at 235 ish. But I was going a lot quicker than him at this stage. So I suddenly decided that maybe I could catch him and got excited at this prospect so I started pressing pretty hard. I couldn’t really see exactly who this guy was in the dark, but I knew he had a red bike and I started watching the lights. It was hard to know if I was going faster or slower than him - I knew I hadn’t overtaken him. So when the sun came up it was much easier to tell.  He seemed to be struggling a little bit at this stage - but I had no idea exactly the difference in laps between us.  So I pushed a little bit harder - and this seemed to spur him on to also push harder. I wasn’t gaining on him! So I eased up a little bit and started chatting to other riders - probably did an hour or so at this slower pace and enjoying the ride. then I noticed the other guy seemed to be in poorer shape than me, suffering a little.So I decided to speed up again and definitely started catching him - i had this idea I could take a few laps away from him. So I was pushing harder and harder, overtaking him once and then kept pushing.  Getting closer now - 3 hours to go - 2 hours to go.  I am working hard, putting in a big last effort. With three hours to go I put all my goo in my bottle, stuffed my face with smoked salmon and decided I wasn’t going back to my tent again!  I was still pulling in for water every two laps but I was putting down some pretty good laps nownstop. I could see the other guy was definitely suffering and I was definitely pushing. Other people on the road were now encouraging me “he’s just in front of you. You can gain a lap” So I really did push harder. Then with about an hour and twenty to go I overtook him again and he said “I am doing 2 more, that’s it - how about you?” I answered that I planned to do as many as I could - so I put my head down, pushed hard and got one done. One hour left. One hour and I figured I could do three more laps. So I pushed really hard - absolutely sprinted and I ended up getting those three laps done - with ten minutes left - not enough time for another complete lap. But I overtook him on that very last lap - I really wasn’t sure how we were placed. I knew he had been a few laps ahead and I had gained a couple back, but really didn’t know what had happened in  the night.  I knew I had overtaken him with an hour to go and on my next lap I took another half a lap out of him. And then I pushed as hard as possible and caught and passed him with about half a mile to go.  I was super excited - I thought maybe I had caught him. He must have known he was in the lead, because as I came past he hadn’t tried to speed up or anything - but I was unsure. Maybe he was just too exhausted. Anyway I crossed the Finish line and pretty much collapsed myself. It had been unbelievably difficult but a fun day (maybe?)  362 miles in 24 hours

24 Hours in the Canyon - Which Canyon is that?

Chad was unable to come and help me in the end so I ended up going solo (not quite as planned). After the 6 ½ hour drive I arrived at the mini canyon of Palo Duro in Amarillo Texas.  Typical of me I arrived late, with packet pick up closing at 9 and me arriving about 5 minutes later. Managed to persuade the lady to let me in though and pick up my packet with the all important bracelet so that I could camp there in the Canyon. Set up my tent up in the dark and went off to bed!

When I signed up for this ride i thought it was 100 miles in the Canyon on a road bike and then 9 mile laps in the Canyon on a mountain bike.  Turns out thats not quite what I signed up for - its actually 100 miles in the canyon followed by 8 mile laps also on a road bike - however even that had changed because of flooding it is now 5.8 mile laps!!  Not very interesting laps - basically down the road turn around and back!! Never mind.  Good thing is I only needed to take one bike - bad thing is I would really have liked to have both my Time Trial and my road bike but I have just sold my road bike and am in the process of getting a new one! So I am just on my time trial bike after all - which is fine!!

Next morning I check out all my stuff - tons of gels and bars, one helmet with lights, one without - feeling pretty good - everything seems to be in order! I am ready to go.  The only problem is I couldn’t find my double water holder so only have one water bottle on my bike. Not really enough but I hope that the Aid stations will be quite close together!

12 noon start - rolling along the bottom of the Canyon - everyone heads off at full speed as usual - I took it easier and even then my heart rate is out of control as always. 180.  Probably about 8 miles across the bottom of the Canyon before the hill up. My tt bike doesn’t have the best of gears so I just went up the hill in my easiest gear and before I knew it found myself out front on my own - not really where I wanted to be.  I was trying to take it easy and get my heart rate under control.  Reached the top where it was flat and windy - cross wind at first - got into a good rhythm, still trying to lower my heart rate. I wanted it below 170 and it was now 175 - so I was easing off as much as possible.Reached the first Aid station and stocked up on water and then turned south straight into the head wind for the next 20 miles or so on a flat boring road!  I was not enjoying the ride very much - head down, trying to control my heart rate. I was also disappointed that the Aid station didn’t really have any food, I was thinking they would have!

Stocked up at the next station and then we turned again, this time with a cross wind and a road that soon deteriorated - I was now suffering, not feeling good - didn’t seem to have any power in me. Reached the 45 mile mark and was able to stock up with some snacks.  I think it is the wind that gets in my head - I really don’t like the flat and the wind! Everything was hurting, my legs, hands and bum - it was a bumpy road and I was miserable.  The worst thing was that I was feeling so weak.  Hate that. Felt I had eaten and drunk enough before the start but maybe not!  After riding south for a while directly into the wind we turned west again with more of a cross wind, so this was a bit better. Still flat!

We finally turned north heading back towards the start - I saw a lady there and asked her for some water thinking she was with the race support - she wasnt but still kindly filled my water bottle. This was good as I was getting low and it was really hot. A mile or so later a support truck pulled up and also gave me some more water.  Another 5 miles and there was an organised rest stop. I felt terrible - got off my bike and sat there in the shade - it was unbelievably hot. They gave me a coke and some ibuprofen along with lots of water.  I had an energy bar and a gel, just trying to eat and drink as much as possible. I must have sat there for about 20 minutes feeling awful. I think I was the 7th rider to reach the stop but another 10 riders passed me as I tried to recover. 

I finally got up and figured I needed to carry on - it was a slog! I definitely had a little more energy and we were still going north so with the tail wind - so that was all good.  Before the rest stop I kept looking at the power meter which is only showing 100 watts and yet I am killing - whats going on?? Now I am definitely feeling a little better. At about 85/90 miles there was another rest stop with a very nice family there. So I sat there for a while and chatted to them while stocking up.  After this we turned back towards the canyon into a cross headwind - 10 miles across and then a good downhill back to the camp. I went straight to my tent and found my life saver - honey smoked salmon! This is what I had eaten on the Arizona Trail Race and it seems to be a good tasty fuel. Sorted myself out, changed my top, got rid of all the extra baggage I was carrying, ate and drank tons!  Ready now to start the 5.6 mile loops!!

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Throughout all of his cycling endeavours Paul supports Lupus UK and the Lupus Foundation of America. Through his adventures Paul has raised thousands of pounds for research into better lives for Lupus sufferers.
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About Paul
Paul Spencer is a British born endurance athlete who competes in long distance cycling events and challenges.
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