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Leadville Trail 100 MTB advice from 2016 Champion Todd Wells

Can you believe we are less than 30 days from the 2017 Leadville Trail 100 MTB?! You’ve been training for months to hit that Starting Line, but what should you be doing now, in the final month before the LT100 MTB, to ensure your best possible result on race day?

We asked 3-time Leadville Trail 100 MTB winner Todd Wells to give us his thoughts on how he prepares in the final weeks before the race. 

Everyone wants one of those buckles – you know the one I’m talking about. The one you get for getting on your bike at 10,200 feet and riding 100 miles, over 12,000 feet of elevation gain, in 12 hours or less. It seems impossible. And with family, work, life, etc., it’s not easy – but we know it is possible. Put in the right amount of hard work, done the right way, and a good dose of luck, and one of those buckles could be yours this year.

I am often asked for the keys to achieving your goals at Leadville. There are three main things you can do to help increase your chances of success.

(1) First of all you have to put in the work, there is no substitute for putting in the time on the bike.

(2) Be as light as possible is the key to climb 12,000 ft. at such a high altitude.

(3) Finally, if you can spend the time to acclimate to the high altitude either by traveling there well in advance, or sleeping in an altitude tent leading into the event, that is the final piece of the puzzle.

What does “putting in the work” look like for Leadville look like for me personally? I dedicate the three weeks prior specifically to the event. Three weeks might not sound like a lot, but my job is to race bikes so I start with a training advantage. I traditionally prepare for Mountain Bike Cross-Country National Championship, which is an under 2-hour race three weeks before Leadville. I’ll switch gears after that. That means four to eight weeks before Leadville I’m more focused on threshold power and VO2 intervals (very painful), and then endurance. After XC Nationals are over, I can focus on endurance, tempo and getting acclimated to 10,000 ft.

In those three weeks before Leadville, I like to get in at least three to four rides at or above my target race time with more climbing then I will see on race day. I don’t worry so much about the mileage as I do the time and climbing. If I’m shooting for a race time of around 6 hours, I’ll do several rides between 6-7 hours in the weeks leading in to the race.

If you use my model, and you are hoping to squeak in under just under the 12-hour mark, I would suggest logging in some 12 hour rides before the event. That seems like a lot of time (and it is) but I have found the best way to prepare for the race is to train longer then you plan on being out there. Of course you don’t want to go from doing 2-hour rides to 12-hours so hopefully you have built up to this over the course of the year. Hopefully you have been upping your volume to be ready for race day.

Good luck to everyone, and I look forward to seeing you on the starting line!

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