When it comes to awesome we think of Andrew Willis. Not only does he host our favorite crit racing series, The Driveway, but he is a beast all his own on the bike! He just completed ((AND WON)) the NCOM (No Country for Old Men) 1000. A 1000 mile race starting and finishing in Alpine, Texas. It looped and zig zagged all over west Texas, into Big Bend, the Davis mountains, etc. 41,000 feet of climbing.
It was his sixth and final race of the year. He won five of the six races he entered this year, and finished the NCOM 1000 in 76 hours. With a ride time of 63 hours, he had 13 hours off the bike total, including 3 hours of sleep over the 76 hours.
Here is a little more info on Andrew and his trip down ultra racing lane:
What got you into ultra racing?
I got tired of road and crit racing. I’d been doing it for years and it just didn’t feel challenging or rewarding anymore. I found myself bored in the races. With ultra endurance races I found a new challenge and sense of fulfillment in competition. I also like that because the body and mind can only do a few of these races a year, it frees me up to be home more on the weekends than sticking to a normal roadie schedule.
What do you do to prepare for a race like this?
People always think I must be out riding 500-600 miles a week. I’m not. I ride about 18-22 hours a week. Most of it on a stationary trainer in my office. My coach, Brant Speed of Pedal Hard, creates small blocks where we’ll load up several taxing interval workouts in a row over several days and then finish it off with a longer 100-150 mile ride outdoors to complete the block. I’m a dad and husband and own my own business so we don’t have time to train 35 hours a week so the theory is we try and create and simulate the types of fatigue I’d encounter in an ultra race by loading up several hard taxing days in a row before going out for a long ride. I then go into those longer rides tired and kind of depleted and very quickly find myself in the same place mentally that I’ll be at say at mile 350 or 400 in an ultra. A lot of these races are mental so getting comfortable with your body’s rhythms and being uncomfortable and tired in general is a big part of it.
How do you recover after an ultra race?
This has changed a lot over the past few years. I really got into ultra in 2015 and those first few races, I’d finish a 400 or 500 mile race and I wouldn’t be able to walk for days after. Completely unable to function without assistance Fast forward to 2017, I finished this 1000 mile race on a Tuesday around lunch. I slept hard that night and was sore on Wednesday but functional. By Thursday I was back to cooking my wife and kids breakfast before school, walking the kids to school, etc. The soreness goes away pretty quick now. I attribute it to training and learning how to fuel and hydrate better. The better we do with nutrition and hydration during an event, the less torn up I seem to be after. Lingering issues are more my sleep cycling being thrown off. I get tired at off times during the day and wake up at 3AM just wired. It takes a few weeks for this to balance out no matter what. Another lingering issue is just some body wide inflammation. While the soreness is gone quick, I’m kind of puffy after the events. I’ve learned how to rid my body of the inflammation faster by not over eating and limiting the junk food (which I typically crave post event). It takes about a week for that to go away and once that’s gone I typically get some body work done with Rita or Carrie at AMC and some manipulation work done at the Training Room with Dr. Davis.
Who do you look up to as a mentor/hero in this field?
My friends in Del Rio, Dex & Joni Tooke. Dex is a veteran of the sport and a wealth of knowledge. Joni has supported Dex at all of his events and has a ton of knowledge and best practices to share. They’ve been very helpful and supportive.
What is your end goal in the ultra racing world?
Not really sure. When I first got into this it was to eventually do RAAM (Race Across America) and be competitive. It’s changed since then to being more about me than any one event per say. I enjoy these events. It’s hard for people to understand so I quit trying to explain myself. I learn something about myself and the people around me in each of these events. I suppose when I stop enjoying the events or the experience possibly shifts to being more negative than positive I’ll drift away from it and find something else.
What are your top three supplies you can’t race without?
My Climb On Sunblock. I’ve found it helps with hydration too by keeping the skin from getting cooked, sour patch kids, and donuts.