At a birthday party last night there was considerable talk of Leadville….
Here is Big J’s report….its the closest to my experience….
Here it is:
It’s pretty dry and long but a report.
Leadville 100 MTB—-The hardest race I’ve ever done.
That’s right. August 15th, 2009 was my hardest longest day on the bike. I’ve done a lot of races from as far north as Montreal and as far south as Mexico City. I’ve raced everything from BMX to the track to the road and off the road but I’ve never suffered more on the bike than that day.
I look back and wonder how this is and I have no answer. I only feel it and can only guess that it was a perfect storm of lack of training, bad weather, competition, MTB racing, and of the course the Lance factor.
I lined up at 6am. It was dark. It was 35 degrees. I straddled my Voodoo Aizan 29er with white grips. I was a few hundred athletes from the front. At 6:30, the shotgun blasted. The racers took off for adventure. The race started unusually fast. The neutral car sped along at 30+mph and Lance’s domestiques pulled the 1400 riders as fast a MTB can go. We entered the dirt single file. Snake and I stayed in the top ten. There was no moving up at that point. It was stay in the draft and follow the wheel.
Now the first climb. We were climbing like this was a typical 2 hr NORBA race and not 100 miles above 10,000 feet. A group of us climbed away from the rest. It was a group of legends like Tinker, T Brown, Dave Wiens, Lance and other like myself, Shriver, Bryson Perry, Manny Prado, and others. I was suffering.
Lance went around me to the front and motioned to Shriver he wanted to go faster. Shriver and him took off. No one followed and the group gradually split. I suffered more. I fell off the pace. I would not see the front again.
Rolling along the top of St. Kievins climb, I flatted my rear notubes tire. I stopped and refilled with my BigAir. Snake went by along with Legs Lehman. I jumped on their wheel as we hit the pavement. It was now 45 degrees and raining but I had a good group to work with.
Unfortunately, my rear tire deflated again. I stopped this time and put in a tube. Hundreds of riders passed me but I looked at this as an opportunity to ride my pace. I jumped from group to group and settled in with 4 guys down Power line and to the first feedzone. I suffered. It was still raining and I couldn’t feel my hands.
As I passed the feedzone, I started to feel good and led my group onto the next section of the race. Soon I was alone and I could barely see Legs Lehman. I caught up with him on the new section of the single track and we then joined a group of 20 riders. This was good. I could now see Snake in the next group.
I went across to Snake’s group and latched on to his wheel. Snake gave me a huge pull up to the next feed station at Twin Lakes. As we started Columbine, he said see ya and settled into his own groove. We all settled into our own groove. I slowly caught and passed riders that had left me before. As I got near the top of Columbine where the road changes and you switch to your granny ring. Lance passed me going down. The road bent to the left and I could barely make out the tent at the top. I wasn’t even close. I was in my granny gear and the climb only got steeper. At this point I was above treeline and the wind was blowing me off my line. For me I had the entire road to pick a line so I made the climb without a walk grinding one pedal stroke at a time. I reach the top only to descend down to the turn around. I was in 9th.
Downhill was fast. Going up was a single file line of athletes riding and walking. By the bottom I was with 8th, Manny Prado. We looked to be on the same page so we rode together changing pulls every couple of minutes. At each climb, we quickly shifted to the granny ring. Now I was in a higher placing than I expected to be and my competitive drive willed me to stay there. I knew we were riding slow but everything needed to be saved for the remaining climbs.
We started up Power line. In the granny ring, one pedal stroke at a time we slowly made it to the top. I could have walked faster but the spectators cheered us to keep riding. I kept thinking when will this end. When will this end? I suffered but made the top. We still had one more climb to go.
Up the pavement we started and climbed what seemed to be fast but now everything is fast when you are not in your granny gear. As we neared the top, Manny says we have another rider joining us. It’s Mike Hogan who has plenty of top finishes at this race. This is not good. I’ve bonked 3 times already. We entered the dirt. Mike quickly dropped us. Then I had a mechanical and was left for dead. I rallied with anything I had left.
I descended St. Kievins, put my head down. I could see them together. I slowly brought them back and joined Manny and Mike with 2 miles to go. No happy ending for me. With 500 meters, Manny jumped. Then Mike. I limped in for tenth.
I was just happy to cross the line…to finish….to get my belt buckle. This was my hardest day on the bike and my longest day on the bike. I finished in 7 hrs 35 minutes. This race brought me out of my “retirement” and put me back into my “retirement.”
Thank you Leadville.
I’m starting to think about cross season…..This is Bart fromk 2008