Sarah Cooper has once again set the women's solo course record for standard bikes at Bike Sebring 24 Hours. In this race to complete as many laps as possible in 24 hours, she rode 494.5 miles with a time of 23h 59m 32s. This gave her the women's win and second place overall. The men's winner had the same number of miles but a finish time just nine minutes quicker.
This is the fourth year she has set a record at Sebring. On her first attempt in February 2014, she set a record of 433.8 miles. During her return in 2015, she hit 460.6 miles. And last year she rode 479.4 miles. Each time she won the women's solo standard division and finished among the top five men.
2017 Bike Sebring 24 Hours
The races begin before sun-up with three laps of the famous Sebring International Raceway before heading out onto a 89-mile road loop. At the end of this loop (101.5 miles total), Sarah had a time of 4h 40m 51s. This was over 40 minutes faster than the nearest woman in her division.
Racers then attempt to complete as many laps of an 11-mile road loop as they can before dusk. Sarah was able to do 12 laps. At 11h 17m 33s into the race, she had completed 241.9 miles and was nine minutes ahead of her her 2016 pace. Only three other solo racers in the non-drafting event were able to complete this many road laps: Jean-Luc Perez and Fabio Silvestri in the men's standard bike division, and Maria Parker in the women's recumbent division.
Racers return to the track between laps to receive fluid and nutrition from their crews. Sarah Cooper doesn't slow down much. (video)
Overnight, racers ride laps of the 3.77-mile race track until the time is up. Sarah rode 67 laps of the track at an incredibly steady pace. And for awhile, she held the overall lead. She made an exciting finish at the very end, leaving only 28 seconds on the clock!
Fabio Silvestri tied Sarah at 494.5 miles but had a finish time of 23h 50m 15s, getting the overall win. Jean-Luc Perez finished second in the men's standard division, third overall, with 471.9 miles. Maria Parker finished first in the women's recumbent division, fourth overall, with 460.6 miles.
Sarah Cooper's 2017 Plans
Sarah will be trying tandem gravel racing at the Crushed Rock Classic this weekend, Saturday, March 25th. Her stoker will be her friend and fellow ultracyclist, Lee Buell.
The next ultra on Sarah's calendar is Trans Iowa on April 29th. This is a 300+ mile unsupported gravel race starting in Grinnell, Iowa. We will be tweeting updates from @KylesBikes before, during, and after the race. #WheresCoop
Her big race of the year is Race Across America (RAAM) in June. In addition to tweeting updates, we will set up a blog article which we will update every day with commentary and links to media coverage, as we did for Race Across the West (RAW) last year.
Full results from Bike Sebring are online at RaceSmith.
To learn more about Sarah Cooper, read our cyclist profile on her.
Photo credits: "Sarah Concentrating" by Birgitte from Andy Christensen Racing, "Sarah on the Road" by Eddy Rayford, "Hand-Off Video" by Kelsey Regan, "Sarah at Night" by Eddy Rayford