Sunday, July 26, 2009

Silver Rush & Columbine

Saturday Phil and I went up to Leadville for one last weekend of training/riding on the course. We got to town and were geared up and ready to ride just as the Silver Rush 50 mountain bike race was taking off. We’ve never done that event – friends who have done it say it might be even harder than the 100 miler – ugh.

I know the first 200 yards is a killer - they start at the base of the tubing hill in Leadville. That just seems mean!

After watching the racers take off we headed out for our own 50 mile ride. We rode the first 25 miles of the race course (St Kevin’s, Turquoise Lake Road, Sugarloaf/Powerline), turned around at the Fish Hatchery and did it all in reverse, too.

As I noted before, the first 25 miles of the course is in really excellent condition. It is still difficult, but the trail is as rideable as I’ve ever seen it.

Phil - clearing St Kevin's with no dabs.
We had a great surprise, running into our friend Junko on the St Kevin’s section of the course. Junko has done Leadville several years, but she is sitting this one out. Her friend Yuki was doing a training ride, so she decided to ride part of the course – just for fun. The fact that she started chemo two days earlier didn’t deter her. Amazing.

We spent the night in Leadville [had a fantastic dinner at the Tennessee Pass Cafe] and got up early to ride from Twin Lakes to Columbine Mine. It rained really hard during the night and early morning, but the soil is so sandy we figured we’d be fine – and we were.

The first (& last) 25 miles of the course are buff and beautiful. The 10 mile grind of Columbine is in poor shape. It looks like there has been some road work done, and combined with the very wet summer, the shoulders are terribly soft – if not entirely washed away. That means ascending and descending riders are going to be competing for the good line – and that may be disastrous. Remember – stay to the right, and stay safe.

Twin Lakes - looking toward Independence Pass.
Before the real grind begins . . .

It is beautiful . . . just so damn brutal in the middle of a bike race!

Rain sprinkles began about halfway down Columbine. By the time the bikes were loaded and we were on our way back to Denver, the storms moved in. Once again, we got lucky with the weather – let’s hope our luck holds on August 15th!

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