The soft way of setting records
Not only is Mads Frank as Head of the Frank Institute of Sports a gebioMized Partner, Coach and Bikefitter in Odense, Denmark. The Danish also is a keen and successful ultra cyclist. Now he set a new national 24-hours-record – riding on our brand new gebioMized Sleak 145 Soft from the Secret Saddle Club. We spoke with Mads about his stunning ride.
Congratulations on setting a new Danish 24h record last weekend. You rode more than 800 kilometers. So obviously our first question would be: How do you feel?
Thank you very much. It was a great weekend and I actually feel really well. Already by Monday I was back at the office doing some analysis of the race and working with my coached athletes updating their training. Recovery-wise I think we have nailed the strategy good this time.
How did you come up with the idea of tackling this record?
Among the many different ultra races I’ve done I’ve always found it interesting with the 24h distance. There is something magical about going all out for 24 hours. I started doing 24h races as my first qualify race for the Race Across America (RAAM) and the other ultra cycling world cups back in 2016 and fell in love with the sport.
Last year at the national 24h race in Denmark I won the title as the youngest rider in history and did around 760 kilometers. So I knew the record of 799 kilometers was within reach. Getting into that special and very selective club of riders above 800 kilometers was a big motivation too. As with my 180 centimeters and 63-64 kilogram I am not a big powerful rider like some ultra cyclists, I knew that I had to use my scientific approach to get as much speed as possible out of my performance.
“For comfort I actually chose the gebioMized Sleak 145mm soft edition. For ultra cycling, saddle and bib-choice is always a bit difficult as it very much depends on distance and terrain.”
Where did you do it and what was the setup of the track you rode?
I did the ride during the national 24h race, the Helnæs24, not far from my home. Due to Covid-19 all my major goals in the world cups, like Race across Italy or Race across Germany, as well as Midt24 in Denmark have been cancelled. I knew that I wanted to set the record and the nationals just seemed like the right place to do it. Even though the lap was hilly and along the coast which is not ideal for long distance records. On the other hand, I knew that the entire elite of ultra cyclists in Denmark would be there, so motivation for winning would be high.
What was your setup? Like bike, wheels, saddle …?
My bike setup was quite special with a lot of time spend trying to optimize the position of 2019. I’m constantly testing new things and this year I’ve adapted to a quite high-hand-position on my Wilier Turbine TT-bike. The frame is quite standard for a TT-bike but with special made arm cups and customized head unit mount and more. Regarding wheel size I did the race with Scope R4 in the front and Scope R5 in the back. I have been testing tires, wheels and tire pressure a lot lately and being course specific is quite important when choosing the setup. For me the Scope wheels with Schwalbe tubeless setup turned out the fastest possible setup.
For comfort I actually chose the gebioMized Sleak 145mm soft edition and the Epic bibs from my clothing partner Bioracer. For ultra cycling, saddle and bib-choice is always a bit difficult as it very much depends on distance and terrain. For example, if you are spending much time out of the saddle in mountains you need to take that into account when choosing saddle and bibs.
“I am probably the most fitted rider in Denmark.”
Not only are you an ultra cycling racer but also a bike fitter yourself. With that in mind: What is your take on your own position on the bike?
I am probably the most fitted rider in Denmark. Ha ha. As I said I am constantly testing new things, looking for gains and working with my partners on product development. Everything from helmets, shoes, socks and the entire bike setup have been tested over and over again in our studio at Frank Institute of Sports. Oh, and I have got a lot of great ideas to test with you guys when I visit you during the fall too.
Do you work on your position yourself or are you trusting another bike fitter on that?
Nobody changes anything on my bikes without me knowing it. But I have talked with Anna and Daniel from gebioMized about visiting you for a fit session to get your thoughts on my position too. There is still so much to learn about rider-bike-interaction for all of us.
What are the key elements to achieve such kinds of results?
90% of ultra cycling is mental. The other half is physical. No, I mean most people tend to overthink things. Most people can stay awake for 24 hours, right? Now all you have to train for is a consistent power output in an as effective position as possible while taking care of hydration, nutrition and everything else which keeps the engine going. Luckily, I have my support crew to help me stick to the plan when my brain turns off during races.
During this particular race I was never out there mentally. It was more or less a controlled effort with only a few obstacles. We had three targets. A) Set a new Danish record by riding more than 800 km in 24 hours. B) Win the title for the second year in a row beating the entire elite of Scandinavian ultra cyclists. C) Perform consistently at a certain power output for several hours.
With the first two targets we succeed. The last one I am still analyzing if there was more left in the body. I believe there was, and I know there are more races coming up for me in the future.
“The saddle is just one of the most important pieces of equipment for any cyclist out there.”
How important is the saddle for an ultra cyclist?
Oh man, that is just one of the most important pieces of equipment for any cyclist out there. All the spots where the rider attaches to the bike, the so-called rider-bike-interaction, is where performance is really found. I use that philosophy when working on my own position and on the position on any other rider coming by for position optimization. Saddle, shoes, insoles, cleats, handlebar, arm cups, extensions, bibs, handlebar tape … that are really the most important contact points. Then of course you can adjust with stems, crank arms and improve performance by adding specific tires, wheels, frames and so on. But in the end, it all comes down to the rider-bike-interaction.
How did your saddle work out?
I have actually done some extensive testing this year with more of the Secret Saddle Club saddles and I have a lot of feedback on them. I think I will save it for the development team. But saddle-wise my position was so much better this year than last year after the World 24h Championships where I finished 5th. I might have won my Age Group at the World Champs, but my performance was far from ideal when it came to saddle choice. This year I am stronger and in a much better position.
What is next on your agenda as an ultra cyclist?
As I mentioned a lot of my big targets have been cancelled this year and the 24h worlds in the US in October does not seem realistic at the moment with the current Covid-19 situation. I am following closely and have my spot ready in case the borders will be open for European travellers in the US. In case there will not be a world 24h championship this year I am looking at different options.
On another note I have a great event coming up in around on September 5th. I will be riding the 717 kilometres from Skagen to Copenhagen together with part of my support crew in less than 30 hours. We will all be on bikes gathering money and raising awareness for a world without Sclerosis. Everybody can follow the ride through my Facebook-page “Mads Frank Ultra Cycling”. My girlfriend Caroline will join me too. She did her first ever ultra race at Helnæs24 this weekend and finished 2nd in the women category on the gebioMized Sleak 135 mm saddle with an impressive 710 kilometres-ride. Hopefully, we can raise awareness and gather money for the great cause while preparing for my next world cup. One thing is for sure I am not done looking for improvements and seeking the progression.
“Saddle-wise my position was so much better this year than last year after the World 24h Championships, where I finished 5th.”
- Visit Mads Frank and the Frank Institute of Sports: www.frankinstituteofsports.com