Russell Mason, 61, Aurora, has broken the World Ultra Cycling Association’s record for the total number of miles biked in a 24-hour period in his age group- pending WUCA certification. He and his family have been working tirelessly to make the record-breaking event possible, and Friday and Saturday, July 30-31, his goal was met. He biked 471.11 miles, nonstop, in exactly 24 hours at an average of 19.8 miles per hour! The previous record Mason just beat had been held by Peter Scherrer, 62, Germany, who rode 453.527 miles in the 24-hour period at an average speed of 18.9 miles per hour.
Mason said the process began in 2019 when he went to Borrego Springs California and competed in the 24-hour world time trial championship, which is different than doing a 24-hour world record attempt, although you do ride 24 hours. The record for Borrego Springs’ 24-hour world time trial championship was 398 miles. Mason rode 406 miles, but Scherrer, the German cyclist, beat him, riding 428 miles. Then last year, 2020, Scherrer attempted a 24-hour road record, riding 453 miles which set a new world record.
“Sometime last year I started thinking about making our own 24-hour world road record attempt, but I didn’t know where to go and didn’t want travel far away, so I started working with the World Ultra Cycling Association to find out how to certify a course right here in the valley. For me, this race started in my mind about a year ago and developed into what took place,” said Mason.
With assistance from the WUCA, Mason began mapping out and certifying a course here in North Sevier which is currently one of six in the United States, and one of only fourteen in the world, where riders can now challenge his record of 471.11 miles in 24 hours. For final approval he had to ride the course three times with a GPS device and send the information to the WUCA. A WUCA Road Course is a loop course of any length approved by the Record chair where normal car traffic exists and will most likely be present during a record attempt. Road courses are generally rougher and slower than a track course, but that’s what he did.
His 22.41767-mile course began at the Aurora LDS church where he followed the honkeytonk road until crossing the highway and continuing toward Redmond, around the lake and through town to the truck route, turning back toward the highway and following it all the way through to the Salina stoplight; at the light he continued until the Blackhawk where he turned right and rode through Lost Creek, crossed the highway at Mason Diesel and headed toward the park and back down Aurora’s Main Street toward the start line at the Aurora Church- and went around again, and again, and again, for 24 hours straight.
For his attempt to be official, the association’s rules had to be followed precisely, and Mason was subject to a ten-mile penalty deduction that the Records Chairman could impose per each infraction, so extreme diligence was paid to ensure everything was done exactly to their specifications and per their instruction.
While getting the track certified he also had to put together an official crew. Each crew consisted of a driver, a crew member, and an official- all of which were approved and certified through testing, by the association.
Mason also had to prepare physically for the intense ride and began by riding 200 miles each week, gradually increasing until he was cycling 450 miles weekly. He also lost 15 pounds for the race so he could ride at his lightest- while still dialing in his nutrition and necessary calories.
His bike, a Specialized Venge 2020 was fine tuned by the best mechanics at Jorgensen’s Power Sports, and his clothing was a skinsuit from Assoc for aerodynamics.
At noon on Friday, June 30 he began his record-breaking attempt with his support truck following directly behind him. The driver was instructed to follow him as close as 50 feet, and never left him from sundown to sunup. The ‘crew’ handed him, through the truck window, his water and nutrition twice per hour, and the association rules specified how long each transfer could take- under one minute or it was considered drafting. The official sat in the back seat of the truck observing that no rules were broken and ensuring the time per lap was accurate.
Each group of support members was with him for three hours at a time, driving approximately 20 miles per hour, or less, with the hazard lights ticking away. At night it was challenging for crew members to do hand offs and blindly get close to him, but they powered through and made it safely through the night.
At the 6,12-, and 24-hour times the crew also marked the road where Mason had passed for verification to send to the WUCA.
After riding for six hours, he had travelled 129 miles with the record being 136 miles; at 12 hours he had ridden 248 miles with the world record being 255 miles, and at the 24 hours mark he had ridden 471.11 miles- beating the world record by almost 20 miles! Mason’s fastest lap was ridden in 57:37 at an average speed of 23.3 mph and his slowest lap took him 1:15;26 at an average speed of 17.8 mph.
Mason it was about twenty hours into the ride when he began figuring up the miles and he knew he would make it as long as he did not crash or something went wrong with the bike. He ended up finishing his ride near the Aurora Park where he was greeted by family and friends, and humbly Russell said of his victory that the “most important thing to be said would be about the tremendous support, help and love given by so many family members and friends, but especially my wife Teri,” he said.
His support crew consisted of Justin Mason, Valerie Johnson, Tiffany Springer, Teri Mason, Cristy Crane, Kathy Stahly, Troy Hallows, Zac Clayson, Craig Payne, Chad Price, Devin Wayman, Amanda Wood, and Chris Wood.
Why does he do it? What is it that drives him to compete and push his body to such great lengths? Riding a bicycle constantly for 24 hours- biking nonstop for 471 miles? His good friend and crew member Craig Payne has been asked to explain it in an exclusive follow up story in next week’s Salina Sun.