By Dave Wiens
Still want to race? These alternatives for getting in will boost your fitness and give you the Leadville experience.
The Leadville Trail 100 MTB is not for the unlucky or the procrastinator. There aren’t many races that require you to commit more than half a year in advance and be fortunate enough to be picked in a lottery. This year you said, “I’d like to give that a try,” tossed your name into the hat – and your name is still in that hat. It didn’t get drawn, and now it’s a done deal. You’re not on the starting list in the Leadville Race Series office, which is buried under a mountain of snow, locked in winter’s grasp at 10,200 feet in downtown Leadville.
However, you’re not out of the game yet. There are two additional ways to get into the LT100 MTB and unlike simply being drawn in the lottery, these alternative routes will require you to buck up and dig deep before you line up on August 15 in Leadville for the planet’s most notorious mountain bike race.
1. Race a Qualifier: Pick one or more of the six mountain bike qualifiers that take place around the country. Train hard, show up, ride hard and smart and you could find yourself holding one of the coveted gold coins that is your ticket to the starting line of the LT100 MTB. Even if you don’t qualify outright in your age group, if you finish within the time standard you’ll have a shot in the lottery that takes place after each qualifier for additional starting spots.
Join me in Texas for the Austin Rattler on March 28; at the Wilmington Whiteface in the rugged New York Adirondack Mountains on June 7; or at the Tahoe Trail in Northstar California on July 18, with any eye on gaining valuable fitness and experience and on earning a qualifying spot for Leadville in August. For the closest experience possible to the LT100, ride in the Silver Rush 50 on July 11.
Remember, qualifying spots earned at the 2015 qualifiers can be deferred until 2016 if your life requires more advanced notice. Other qualifying opportunities include the Fire Road in Utah on June 27 and the first opportunity to punch your ticket into the 2016 LT100 MTB, the Barn Burner on August 29 near Flagstaff, Arizona.
2. Attend Camp of Champions: If you’re looking for a sure entry into the LT100 MTB and you want a huge leg up on the competition, you can attend the Camp of Champions in early July.
Two sessions are offered and our track record of preparing riders for the LT100 speaks for itself. During camp you’ll not only ride every inch of the course, but you’ll also learn tactics and strategies from Leadville veterans like Rebecca Rusch, others experienced riders and me.
We’ll address nutrition, equipment selection and setup, training, altitude, pacing, etc. – every aspect of preparation and execution for a goal-achieving ride on race day. Other valuable camp sessions include a descending clinic, a bike-fitting seminar and a tech and gear tutorial. All of this combined with new friends, camaraderie and great food make these camps the experience of a lifetime. The Camp of Champions is available with or without a guaranteed entry into the LT100 MTB. Indeed, many of our camp participants already have a spot in the LT100 MTB and attend to become better mountain bikers, to work on altitude acclimatization, to experience the course and to get training miles that simply cannot be duplicated anywhere else but in Leadville, wheel-to-wheel with LT100 MTB veterans and other riders working toward the same goals.
Come on! Get out of that chair, set some goals, get on your bike and shake up your 2015. Your life will never be the same.