Tustin's Lubomir Hristov is qualified to join the solo riders leaving Irvine today in the Race Across America, but you won't find him lined up at the start.
He would like to be there, ready to try ultramarathon cycling's ultimate test, riding 2,906 miles to Savannah, Ga., but he cannot spare the time to train enough to prepare for such a challenge.
And Hristov tries to ride about 400 miles a week.
"To do RAAM," Hristov said, "I would think that would be grossly inadequate."
Hristov would like to ride more but he says his job as a technician in the service department of a Santa Ana auto dealership requires too much of his time.
"If I can get a different job in which I have more time to ride and train, RAAM will become an option," said Hristov, 39. "I read an article about [1996 winner] Danny Chew that said the guy rides 50 miles a day. I would like to do that but I don't think you have much of a life after that.
"It would be like you work and you ride and that's it."
Hristov's life started revolving around cycling only recently. He started slowly about five years ago on an "old beat-up touring bike" to keep in shape. He joined the Bicycle Club of Irvine and rode his first century (100 miles) in 1995.
After moving up to double centuries and one triple century, he tackled the Furnace Creek 508 last October. "After you do a couple of doubles you feel comfortable doing those," Hristov said, "but 500 miles is a different story.
"I thought this would be just more of the same. In some ways I was right, but in some ways I was terribly wrong."
Dealing with sleep deprivation, for instance, becomes an issue. As is finding ways to nourish a body that is burning something like 10,000 calories a day.
During the Furnace Creek race, Hristov stockpiled 14 shrink-wrapped La Salsa burritos to supplement the various energy drinks favored by most riders. The burrito experiment failed because of spoilage, causing some early stomach problems. Later, he was bothered by an upset stomach he attributed to taking caffeine pills to try to stay awake.
Even so, Hristov recovered nicely, finishing in 38 hours 28 minutes 24 seconds, a time that qualified him for RAAM with more than six hours to spare.
Hristov plans to return to the Furnace Creek race this fall and hopes to be able to shave hours off his time. But for now, the Race Across America will have to wait.