Race Reports


Bessies Creek 2018 Race Report

The ride into hell 


I call this piece a ride into hell because that is what our band of hardy and intrepid souls did in venturing out onto the 14.3 mile loop course on Saturday. The weather was brutal and I was told the wind chill was in the 20’s with a northerner roaring across the pit area and those not riding – like me – huddled inside the hotel lobby daring not to go outside lest we succumbed to a serious case of a terminal chill.


Nevertheless in spite of the unreasonable and unseasonable weather conditions, records were set and over 50 racers did tame the course and achieve personal goals whereby they could rightly claim the moniker ‘Endurance racers’. 


Watching from the comfort of the hotel lobby - but occasionally outside in the wintry blast - I was reminded of those wondrous and immortal words from Shakespeare’s King Henry V at Agincourt:


“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers


 For he to-day that sheds his blood with me


Shall be my brother”


And so it was for those brothers and sisters who rode out in dreadful conditions and turned its fury into their personal victories. It was an honour to see them ride.


Barry Dickson from DC set a new record in the Gulf Coast 515 on the new 14.3 mile course by completing 36 laps in one day, one hour and forty six minutes for an average speed of only slightly less than 20 MPH – an astonishing race time for any athlete in the best of conditions but made even more so to be raced in such appalling conditions by such an unassuming and all round delightful personality.


Lindsay Waibel from Georgia set a new record in the 12 Hour Race for covering 214.5 miles in an average speed of 18 MPH. I am simply amazed how these racers can ride so fast, these days I struggle to make it up to 17 MPH for even short lengths of speed, so I think it must be the bike, I’d better get a new one.


Six racers met the standards to qualify for the Race Across America: Winner Barry Dickson, Texans David Baxter and Chris Potter and Virginian Frank Fumich in the 515 mile race and Californian Mark Gibson - who placed first - and Kerry Pike from New York in the 24 Hour race.


Racers from across the country joined to make this one of the best events on the calendar and the new shorter loop of 14.3 miles with mostly protected roadway found favour with all of the racers and I was proud to champion them in my capacity as Race Director.


In particular I want to thank the Saturday shift two-timers Nici and David (the Timing Master) who sat huddled at the timing station for most of Saturday in the frigid cold and wind wrapped in blankets, gloves and as much warm clothing as could be found, if only a heater under the table could have helped.


Friday in contrast was mild and pleasant with a light rain shower coming at the end of the day with the Thursday and Friday overnights quite comfortable for racing which helped the longer racers amass miles in the bank before the Saturday wintry conditions forced some to end their racing attempts earlier than planned.


Saturday in the pizza joint saw the raffle with gift cards, helmets and an assortment of other useful objects won in the drawing followed by the medal awards with the results read out directly from the computer.


The next Bessies Creek will be the first weekend of April 2019, same course with a different hotel and pit stop area to get crews and racers closer to the food opportunities along FM 359.




Kenneth Jessett


Race Director




Bessies Creek 2017 race report
By: Kenneth Jessett

The weather in south east Texas was exceptionally nice this year except for a little wind blowing up on the last day to make the day more challenging for the racers.

Fifty seven racers turned out for the weekend and a number of  records broken, some substantially and some marginally and some by the same racers who set records in previous years.

In the Gulf Coast 511, David Baxter, starting for the 36 hour at seven Friday morning, took advantage of a night’s sleep to beat his own record set the previous year covering the 511 miles in 28 hours and 42 minutes.

Alison Casey coming back after qualifying last year for RAAM in the 24 Hour race and setting a new record then, this time switched to the 511 miles race and set another new record (now two for her on the list) covering it in 40 hours and 44 minutes. It was a great race by two very strong racers.

Larry Pahman rounded out the 511 Mile pack coming home just under the wire in 47 hours and 37 minutes to win his age group.

John Evans won the 24 Hour race with 405 miles and qualifying for RAAM in doing it.  Kent Pike was a close second with 396 miles.

Raymond VanEtten in spite of only riding 16 laps and retiring with mechanicals in just under 19 hours still ran up an impressive 341 miles in his torpedo like HPV.

There were no solo female racers in the 24 Hour race. This is a shame because there is no question women are as able as men to ride and succeed at these distances, as has been shown in previous Bessies events.

Our first tandem in any Bessies race was ridden by two women, Pamela Ferguson and Tina Ament who raced 383 miles with 37 minutes left on the clock.

Two mixed teams made up the 24 Hour roster: John and Nancy Guth riding standard bikes amassed a whopping 459 miles again leaving some time on the clock. I’m not going to say what age this couple were, only to say they were older than spring chickens.  Amy Russell – previous 24 Hour race record holder – and Quintin Boemisch brought home a very respectable 438 miles.

Marc Poland came home with 219 miles in the 12 Hour Standard Male race with Matthew Hall a close second with 213 miles. Jennifer Alix won the women’s 12 Hour race with 204 miles.

In the recumbent 12 Hour Race, Dan Rocco raced 242 miles on his Schlitter Encore with Zak Lerner not too far behind with 229 miles.
Father and son team Michael and Patrick Rozum won the 12 Hour team race with 202 miles.

Christie Tracy lead the field in the 6 Hour female standard bike race setting a new record with 134 miles. Dan Plutto led from the front for the male standard racers with 114 miles.

Larry Oslund set a new recumbent record on his Cruz Vendetta for the 6 Hour race flying around the course and finishing with 142 miles.

We were very happy to see Mechtilde Willumsen again this year who equaled her last year’s feat riding 64 miles in her 75th year to once again win her age group.

Racers’ at this year’s event came from: Nebraska, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, Illinois, Idaho, Colorado, Missouri and Texas.

All in all, it was a very exhilarating, challenging weekend of racing, rounded out with a dinner at the pizza joint and raffle prizes won across the board. All of the racers appeared to have had a good time, rode hard and fast and went home happy, and that is our measure of an extremely successful event.

We were using a made for Bessies timing system this year developed by Akshay which worked beyond our expectations. As many of you know, we have tried RFID chip systems in past years with poor results and now have a cloud based App program which is very sophisticated and extremely comprehensive.

Next year we will be able to offer real time live results which will allow all racers, crews and supporters to watch the results as they unfold throughout the races at the same time our timing crew records the racers passing the timing desk. In this way, the incremental as well as final results will be known immediately it happens.

See everyone next year.
Kenneth Jessett
Race Director
April, 2017