Back in 2004, Ken Chlouber had a plan to expand the Leadville Race Series from…
Bonnie Moebeck shares her story of overcoming physical adversities to find opportunity, adventure and courage at the Leadville Trail 100 MTB.
If you were told by a doctor who had just completed emergency surgery on you to go and do anything you wanted to do, as soon as you were able, what would that be?
In October of 2010 I was rushed into emergency surgery as doctors worked together to save my life from a deadly and rare disease called Lemierre’s Syndrome. For several months I had been misdiagnosed with a severe case of pneumonia and treated with strong antibiotics, but the antibiotics had no effect. A severe throat infection I had been suffering from grew worse as bacteria called Fusobacterium Necrophorum created a peritonsillar abscess that had become so infected that it eventually burst and spread through my lungs and eventually my entire body. Spreading faster than cancer, the disease grew stronger, barricading itself in my lower back and attacking my organs from its septic safe harbor.
After the surgeon left my hospital room, I thought about what’s most important to me; my faith in God, my family and my outdoor adventures. I wanted more than anything to be with my family for a little longer, to feel the sun on my face and to experience the personal satisfaction of a good hard bike ride. I glanced at the picc line tube that was delivering antibiotics directly to my heart and gently ran my hand over the top of my midsection where I now had thousands of stitches holding me together. If I did survive, it was going to be a very long journey back.
I had first heard about the Leadville Trail 100 MTB in 2011. The beautiful and tough terrain, insane altitude and the wonderful experience it gave so many athletes peaked my interest and I excitedly entered the 2012 lottery, cautiously aware of the huge undertaking I would be placing on my body. I will never forget opening that email, elated to have been selected. I wasn’t sure how much training I could handle but I knew one thing for sure, I wanted to experience Leadville.
What does Leadville mean to me? Opportunity, adventure and courage.
Opportunities come in all shapes and sizes and Leadville will deliver them all right to your front door. The steep terrain and breath taking altitude offer challenges that leave no doubt in your mind that you’re in a true grit race and you get to decide what you’re going to do about it. When opportunity knocks, will you swing the hurt locker door wide open and welcome it in or will you hard tail it out of town? Will you push yourself outside far out of your comfort zone or will you shrink back when you face your giant? Believe me; Leadville will give you the chance to make these choices.
Leadville is adventure. Few races come close to the experience of racing on this beautiful, course; to ride among the giants in the mountain biking world; to embark on an adventure that is beyond your normal biking footprint. The atmosphere, the cohesiveness of the riders and all that a tough race has to offer is served up on a hard packed platter.
I did not cross the finish line in Leadville last year, at least not the finish line with the giant clock, the crowds cheering and Ken and Merilee standing there to welcome me home. That was tough. I wanted to finish more than anything. But what I did reap was worth its weight in gold. Courage; courage that grew as a direct result of my training and taking on the Leadville Trail 100 MTB; courage to come back and try again; courage to take on what became even more clear to me throughout my journey as truly my biggest challenge- myself. Each of us has our own story, as unique as we are individuals. Mine is about overcoming my physical adversities to somehow make a way to do the things I love. It’s about continually starting where I’m at, with what I have, and turning it into something uniquely spectacular, and something I can use to hopefully encourage others. Courage doesn’t grow out of complacency. Courage grows out of action.
If you had the opportunity to re-evaluate everything that is important to you and embrace it one last time, what would you do?
As for me, you’ll see me at the start line of the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, hugging my wonderful family as I set off on my adventure and thanking God for the opportunity to courageously embrace another day.