Marko Baloh 24 Hour

When I was standing on the startline of my first 24 hours on the bike eight years ago, I couldn’t have imagined what will I be doing eight years later. On 9th-10th September 2000 I set the RAAM qualification and the Slovenian record at that time of 753km. In the meantime there came three solo RAAMs and one RAAM in two person team (a victory this year with my friend Tomaz), a few more victories in ultracycling races and lots of records. My progression in this years was huge and in the last years one of my greatest goals was to try the solo 24-hour ride when I am prepared a 100%, but this time I would be aiming for much higher – tof the 24-hour World Record itself!

This year was to be it. Right at the beginning of the season I set my goals accordingly – with the main goal (World Record)  in September. The reason for this is my full time job which doesn’t allow me to prepare fully before the end of the season (with the longer days in the summer). Except for the leg injury in April and with that less than great ride in Race Around Slovenia, everything went according to plan and coming August, my preparation was spot on! MY sponsor BTC d.d. stepped out and bought me the fastest Time Trial bike in the World ORBEA ORDU.

The date for setting the WR was nearing with warp speed and I didn’t even have time to be nervous because of all the commitments (work, the logistics of the ride, tha paperwork…). As usual I couldn’t have done without my friends and family. The ride was under supervision of UMCA as well as the Guinness Book of Records. I was in charge of the documentation for those two organisations, Andrej Petrovic was in charge of the rest of logistics of the ride on a hypodrome near Lenart. The mayor of Lenart and other locals did their best to accomodate me and the crew.

As soon as I started I felt a huge relief, because the nervous time was over and I was doing what I like doing the most – riding a bike. My crew headed by my crew chief Andrej were on their posts and ready to take care of all of my needs in the next 24 hours. The officiating team was lead by chief official Chris Hopkinson with the help of two other officials Mira Gasparic and Matjaz Jelovcan plus a vice mayor of Lenart Franc Krivec. Always present were a doctor Svetec M.D. and a medical technician Dejan Mlakar. Of course, my wife Irma and all the kids (Ana, Erik and Tea) were present also and being as loud as the could be to give me an additional burst of energy whenever I needed it. And, I DID need it!

Remembering the ride from a distance of a few days, I can remember vividly the phenomenal feelings when I passed the World Record mark and the additional laps that I have ridden almost with the same speed as the first few laps of the race (with a lap average of more than 40km/h!). I almost forgot about all the pain and the hard thoughts that went through my mind when I had a few big crisis during the ride. The worst crisis came around 5 hours before the finish, when my legs all of the sudden became as heavy as metal. I had a feeling of going ever so slow and that I will never get in the right RPMs again. I’ve recovered eventually, but when I look at the Log Books., I see that my lap average speed not once (except when peeing of eating) didn’t fall bellow 33,5 km/h.

I beat the record of Michael Secrest (his record was official for the Outdoor Track record) by more then 33km! At the same time I bettered the best absolute distance set by an Italian Orlando Borini in 2007 (with 869km). I have done 928 laps and 160 meters, which means 890,205km in 24 hours. In the meantime I also set the records for fastest 100 and 200 miles and the record in 12h cycling with 460,6 km and average speed pf 38,39km/h. People who watched me doing it say that it didn’t look hard at all. Well it might not have looked hard, but I can assure you it was the hardest 24 hours in my life! Of course, the phenomenal feeling after achieving (one of) my dream(s) erase all the pain. While I am recovering I am already making plans for 2009 – I will let you know about it as soon as the plan is set…