Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Leadville 2013 Part 1 -- The Week Prior

This is the start of my 2013 Leadville 100 MTB race report...it's in 6 parts.  Sometimes I'm long-winded.

I drove up to Leadville on Monday with a carload of stuff that could have outfit me for a week of skiing in the backcountry much less a one day mountain bike race. In the truck I had:

  • 3 coats
  • 2 vests
  • 3 hats
  • 3 pairs of gloves
  • 4 pairs of shoes
  • a whole lot of socks
  • 3 pairs of cycling shorts
  • 3 jerseys. 
  • 2 kinds of arm warmers
  • 2 tubes of embrocation
  • chamois cream
  • and regular clothes for a week. 
  • 1 bike
  • extra wheel
  • toolkit
  • enough gu and energy drink for an entire cycling club

finally for my raceday crew:

  • sun/wind shelter 
  • camp chairs
  • tarp
  • water 
  • food 


The drive itself was blissfully boring. A jaunt across the great American west...Scottsdale, Flagstaff, Moab, Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, Minturn, and finally Leadville! A veritable feast of scenery that did not stop being majestic for the entire 12 hours. 

Leadville itself is a true mountain town. From Harrison Avenue (Main Street) you see the 2 highest peaks in Colorado...the 2nd and 3rd highest points in the lower 48. The town shows its boom-bust-boom cycle with 200 year old buildings next to boarded up houses and gleaming new coffee shops and a whiskey distillery. A modern bike shop, a famous opera house, the national mining hall of fame, and many old west shoot outs call the place home. The air is cold, thin, and heady. 

I got into Leadville 10,200' in the "air" about 8pm, checked into the Delaware Hotel, and hauled a big part of my load up to the 3rd floor room (no elevator).  Immediately I thought "I'm screwed" At the top of the stairs, attempting to unlock the door to #316 (doc holiday's favorite room, but that's another story ) I could not catch my breath. 2 flights, about 80 lbs of bags, and I was panting like I had just sprinted 400m. This altitude stuff was serious. Fortunately a pizza, small beer, 9 hours of sleep and coffee cured me and I felt fine by Tuesday noon. 

I spent the next 3 days riding the big climbs of the course, chatting with other racers, drinking coffee at City on a Hill, poking around the LRS HQ shop, Melanzana outdoor wear, and the souvenir shops. I saw, and met, the luminaries of the mountain biking world including Todd Wells, Rebecca Rusch, Alban Lakata, Elden "Fatty" Nelson, Ken Chlouber...on my rides around town I invariably saw a current or former world champion who always called out "looking tough" or "keep 'em turning" or some other encouragement as they passed by. 

Thursday came quick, and I did the race necessities...check in, med check, etc. headed down to Breckinridge to meet my awesome race day crew (mom, Priya, Farooq, and Layla). Friday was all about psyching up and avoiding getting psyched out. Harrison avenue, the expo, the hotel....Soooo many racers, pro teams, and vendors had packed into this tiny Colorado town, it looked like art fair in Ann Arbor with a spandex theme. Every corner had someone talking race strategy or had a race story of blowing up on the first climb, succumbing to AMS, dehydrating, going hypoglycemic, getting gut rot...I was ready to ride, and stop all the talk. I knew I felt pretty good, and well, Saturday was going to come no matter how much everyone kept talking. 

There was one more speech to go. Ken Chlouber needed to tell us all to dig deep. Packed into a high school gym with 2500 adrenaline pumped racers, with the Rocky Mountains looming outside... this man held us all silent. I found a recording of the 2012 speech. Here it is. Turn up the volume.  After that, we scouted crew positions, headed back to Breck, prepped bottles, bike, cars...and attempted an early night. The alarm went off at 3:30am on Saturday. Time to go racing.

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