Most of you know what happened last year. I did start Leadville last year but did not finish. YES, I am doing it again this year. In the back of your mind you are thinking, why after the trauma he experienced last year would he even consider this? My youngest daughter (age 11 at the time) said to me the first day I was home from being 61 days in the hospital. "Dad, you are doing Leadville again, right?" My response was: IF I CAN, I WILL! Guess she knows me better than I want to admit. With support from Lifetime, family, friends and people that have been part of the recovery process. I hired a Lifetime cycling coach and have trained from the first day out of rehab and will continue the rest of my life. I will NOT race this year, but rather ride it to cross the finish line. I have recapped the race in the following.
Leadville Race Recap:
Leadville, Colorado, a city rich with mining and Wild West history, is host to a number of challenging endurance events. Endurance events are a challenge in and of themselves; but once you add altitude to the equation, look out. The town of Leadville sits at a crisp 10,200 feet above sea level. The highest incorporated city in the US.
One of the events, the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race, is so popular that racers enter a lottery in January to secure one of the available starting line spots for the August race. The event starts at the elevation of 10,200 feet, with the highest point at the famed Columbine Mine at 12,600 feet.
Under 12 hours is the Mission
Riders finishing over 13 hours are pulled off the course for their own personal safety and for the safety of all the volunteers.
What is it that causes 37% of the entrants to miss their goal of finishing under 12 hours? Certainly the altitude is one challenge; but this challenge doesn't stop entrants from 50 states and 10 countries from giving the event a shot. Many of the racers coming from low altitude states like Minnesota do just fine, finishing well within the 12-hour mark. Two of my friends finish under 9 hours last year. The group from Minnesota has an average age of 51.
Altitude is one challenge and certainly the course itself can keep riders from reaching the finish line. It's is an out-and-back course, with only the last few miles to the finish that are different than the start. There are areas on the course that seem to cause more problems than the rest of the course.
Leadville start is downhill on pavement leaving town. Riders too eager to get the best spot in the group we find that the day has just begun, positioning is only temporary at this point. Climbs are where you make the real positioning when the road turns to dirt, make silly mistakes may take them or other riders out within split seconds. The 37 degree day is to be counted on at the start with some years bring sleet or snow at the 6:30 am start time.
St. Kevin's Climb
Once on dirt, the first real climb begins up Saint Kevin's. Just before the climb I have chased cows that were protecting their calves off the trail. Here, less than hour into a long day, riders are jockeying for position. There are crashes on this climb, but it is likely taking the highest toll in rider DNFing.
The next challenging climb is around 13 miles into the day, up and over Sugarloaf Pass. Rides sustained effort at lactate threshold intensity or above. This is a “five-mile climb” with melon sized rocks to guide the bike over or around popping in and out of the tree line.
The descent after the Sugarloaf climb is known as "Powerline." It's steep, there are loose sections and it usually boasts deep ruts created by heavy mountain rains. Powerline not only takes riders out of the game on race day, but it slams riders into the dirt and rocks following to race. i.e. ME! Some of these ride injuries are not-so-gentle warnings, while other tumbles exact a race-ending toll. (Yes, this was me last year)
The first full aid station on race day comes shortly after the Powerline descent and is known as Pipeline. Pipeline is the first time crews can meet their riders and riders without crews can pick-up drop bags. The second aid station is at Twin Lakes most riders have their pit crews there if not both.
From Twin Lakes, at roughly just below 10,000 feet, riders climb to the Columbine Mine station boasting an altitude of 12,600 feet.
Columbine Mine Climb
The ten-mile climb to Columbine Mine, and subsequent descent, is the fifth area to cause riders heartache. (Yes, this is 10 miles of climbing) Obviously, climbing 3,200 feet in roughly eight miles on a rocky road. Weather can be a serious factor at this altitude.
After descending the Columbine Mine climb, the second cut-off time comes at the second pass through the Twin Lakes aid station. Riders From that last cut-off, riders have four hours to get themselves to the finish line. Within these four hours, on an out-and-back course, what went down early in the race is now a climb up mountain.
63 percent successfully finish the race on average. The lead male winner is Dave Wiens (7 time winner). Rebecca Rusch is the most winning female busting many male records that have been set over the 20 years of the race.
If you can Dig Deep and find what it takes to do this race? Send me an email and I will help you enter the race in 2012.
If you wonder if I struck gold in Colorado?
Click on the WCCO interview I did February of this year.
You may need to copy the URL and paste in your browers.
Let me know on the cycling discuss page if I struck Gold!
LEADVILLE HERE WE COME AGAIN!!!!!
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