5 years ago, Ray Landry had never thrown a leg over a mountain bike. He was a 210lb bodybuilder that spent every day in the gym and had no idea that the world of endurance sports would call his name. He discovered mountain biking through a friend and knew he’d found his stride. Ray devoured the local Utah singletrack and began riding the Wasatch Crest Trail in Park City, UT, almost daily, earning him the nickname “Wasatch Ray.”
Shortly thereafter, Ray was told about this race in Colorado that he had to check out. It was hard to earn an entry, so he should go volunteer. He signed up to volunteer at the Leadville Trail 100 having no idea what the event was all about. He passionately spent the entire weekend as a super volunteer, helping at packet pickup, unloading a truck in record time and giving aid to riders all around the course. Ray fell in love with the event and community in Leadville He knew he had to return. .
Ray left Leadville with a newfound passion and a fire in his belly that led him to the start line of the Leadville Trail 100 the following year.
“Wasatch Ray” in his element.
After he was left sidelined with a mechanical at his first attempt in the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, he was determined to come back stronger than ever and achieve his goal of a sub 9 hour finish. The energy of the volunteers and staff, the challenges of the course, it all kept him awake at night as he planned his return to Leadville on his hunt for the infamous belt buckle.
He signed up for the Leadville Stage Race with the intention of previewing the LT100 MTB course and getting an up close and personal look at each key section. He knew that if he were able to preview the course at race-pace, he would arrive on race week more prepared than ever before.
“If you want to get fast at Leadville, you have to train to get fast at Leadville.”
What he got was more than he bargained for. Over the course of the 3 day event, Ray experienced more than just a course preview. He walked away from the Leadville Stage Race with one of the best experiences in his life, claiming that the Leadville Stage Race is “just a good time, from morning until night.”
The later start times lend to a casual start to your day, where riders get to enjoy breakfast with friends and socialize. The races themselves are hard, sure, but not so hard that you can’t recover and enjoy the evening making new friends and sharing stories of the day’s work.
“It takes the hurt out of the 100. You get to hammer for 3 hours and have a freaking blast with the people you’re with and then go out and relax and have dinner with your friends. Getting to experience the courses while still enjoying the day making new friends, that’s what mountain biking is all about.”
Ray and his friends enjoying the post race vibe at the Leadville Stage Race
“You end up riding with the same people every day, communicating, talking and having a great time.”
Ray left the Leadville Stage Race more motivated than ever. After seeing the LT100 MTB course at race-pace in the Stage Race, he knew how to pace his efforts going into his “A” event. He knew right where he needed to be and had one of the best starts of his life. By the time he got to Columbine, he knew he was on a good day and timed his effort brilliantly. He returned to Leadville, finishing faster than he started, taking 10 minutes off of his time on Pipeline alone. He accomplished his goal. Ray stopped the clock with 5 minutes to spare, reaching the finish line with an impressive time of 8:55:06.
Ray takes home the belt buckle in 2019
“The more you learn about it, the better you ride it. The smarter you ride it.” Ray credited his experience at the Leadville Stage Race for helping him accomplish his goal. He left Leadville that day feeling proud of everything he’d accomplished, and thankful for the opportunity to be there.
As for this year, Ray will be using his experience to join the team at the Camp of Champions, as well as supporting a friend by running crew at the LT100 MTB. When asked if he’ll be returning to the Leadville Stage Race, he didn’t hesitate, “It’s the most fun weekend you’ll ever have on a bike, how could I miss it?”
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Find out more info on the Stages Cycling Leadville Stage Race and registration, click here.