Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2010 Leadville 100 - The First Half - 75 miles out of 100 - Part 3

Joanne and I joke that the first 75 miles in the Leadville 100 is the first half, and the last 25 miles is the 2nd half.  Maybe not in miles or time, but definitely when it comes to effort and suffering.

First Climb - St. Kevin's

St. Kevin's is the frist major climb and where a lot of time can be lost for slower people or people lined up at the start way in the back.   In the past races of 600 and 800 racers there were two to three abreast going up the steep 4wd road.    On the right would be a line of people pushing their bikes.

This year there were 1,400 plus racers, and even with starting about 1/3 into the line up there were four abreast and occaisionaly five with single speeders climbing up really rough lines on the far right.   [ single speeders are amazingly tough ]

If anyone has to stop on St Kevins a line of people behind would have to stop and push until they could get on and ride again.   I had to push my bike 3 times for short distances and it only cost me a couple minutes of time.   For people in the back of the pack, the bottle neck would eventually encompass the whole steep section of St. Kevins and easily cost over 20 to 30 extra minutes.  This extra time caused by the congestion at St. Kevins costs quite a few people a 12 hour finishing time.

The bottle neck at St Kevins and the increasing number of racers is unfortunately negatively impacting the race.   People are becoming aggresively impolite in lining up at the start and riding recklessley on the initial paved section, and many lined up in the back DNF - Do Not Finish.

A staggered start over 30 minutes could greatly change this, and hopefully this change will come soon to the race.

The remaining part of the St. Kevins climb goes by very fast at race pace, it is still very crowded, and many are trying to recover from red-lining their heart rate so early in the race.

1st Descent - 40 deg, Sweaty, and 30+ mph

You pop out of the St Kevins climb on the northern high point of the paved road around Tourqouise Lake.   I am about 45 to 50 minutes into the race and a very good time to try to start getting calories in.    Most people will not feel hungry, but it is a must to start trying to force 200 calories an hour in or you will deplete muscle glycogen, bonk, and risk not finishing.

At this point you are sweaty from a steep climb at a fast pace, going down hill on pavement at 30+ mph at about 40 deg. F.   It is painfully COLD.   Ever have an ice cream headache?

2nd Climb - Sugarloaf

Compared to earlier races, the Sugarloaf climb seems relatively tame for me.   I was not pushing all out and keeping my heart rate at a normal level to save energy for end of the day.  I was able to pass about fifty people, but the field was still pretty crowded for a jeep road.

2nd Descent - Sugarloaf to the Powerline

It was not very far down on the South side of Sugarloaf when I came across the first major bike accident.   This whole down hill section used to really scare me, but my decending skills have slightly improved to the point that I am not terrified.

It was obvious that the person in this crash was really messed up, probably a head injury.  It can happen to anyone in a blink of an eye in this section.  Sugarloaf is steep, has ruts, rock obstacles, and loose sections.

Then you hit the race's famous Powerline section.   About 1/2 mile of an off camber access road under a power transmission line.   There are ruts 4' deep in the eroded granite.  If you try to pass or get stuck on a bad line it is going to be an ugly day for you.

I had a woman trying to pass me here, and I aggresively told her to not be a dumb ass!

If you need to make up 1/2 a minute, the Powerline is not the place.

I am always relieved and thankful when I am off the Powerline and in one piece.  The most dangerous part of the race is over and it is time to settle into a tempo you can hold for hours.

Pipeline Aid Station

By the time I get to the 1st aid station, the leaders are already at least an hour ahead.

They are wicked fast.

The leaders don't stop at aid stations, they grab stuff going by at about 20 mph.

The rest of the racers drop off clothes, get more food and liquids.

There are a lot of spectators and it is hard to sometimes find your crew.   Joanne was right where I thought she would be, she is a seasoned pro and had everything ready.

I quickly shucked excess clothes, changed camel backs, and checked my front tire.  It was making these poping noises and was acting squirrely.   I thought for sure I had a broken spoke from the rough fast decent off Sugarloaf.   I found nothing and took off.

After about a mile and I was away from all of the spectators, I stopped to take a nature break.

As I laid my bike down my wheel flopped around.   I quickly noticed the front squewer was undone.   Joanne must not have gotten it on tight and the down hill decent had knocked it loose.  I sent out a quick thank you to the mtb gods, latched the wheel down, gave it spin and saw no damage.   I gave myself a reminder that I needed to check that kind of stuff before I take off on any ride.  

Pipeline aid station to the Twin Lakes aid station goes by fast, and there is now a fun single track section that bypasses ambulance hill or otherwise known as "the cobra" since it tends to bite people in the ass.   A very, very steep and loose 100 yard decent.   The single track is funner and no one tends to go to the hospital from riding on it, but I think it takes more race time than "the cobra" did.  

Twin Lakes aid station
Twin Lakes is the first time cut off at 40 miles and 4 hours.   Twin Lakes has become crowded with crews & fans strung out on both sides for over a mile.     I always have my crew past the time cut off in case I am having a bad day.       It is very fun and motivating to see all of the crews cheering you on.

Jeffrey has crewed for Joanne and me now for three Leadville's. What I love most about Jeffrey is his positive view on life! The glass is always half full with him!   He loves riding bikes and I think he really enjoys the people watching that Leadville Provides.

My friend Ned is a geologist I have worked with also and had offered to come up and crew for me.   Like Jeffrey, Ned has never met a stranger and quickly made friends with the other people around them.   I don't think Ned had a clue on what Leadville would be like and I hoped he was going to have a good time.

He wore a floppy farmers hat that made it easy to spot him.   It was a wise choice, because the sun at 10,000' is brutal.
Jeffrey or Ned had told the people standing around them my name, so I had a cheering section for me when I rolled in.   They greased my chain, shoved food at me, changed camel backs, cramed a power bar in to chew on, and got me out of there in about 2 minutes.   The people around them cheered for me as I left as well.    Pretty cool, it made me feel like a rock star!
Columbine Mine - third climb - half way in miles but not in effort
From the Twin Lakes aid station the climb to the Columbine Mine is 10 miles, and is where the wheels come off of the unprepared.   I know, I was one of them my first year.   It is very steep and takes about two hours to go the 10 miles to an elevation of 12,800'.
I passed probably 100 plus people on this climb, but then got stuck in a two mile push a bike line from mile 7.5 to 9.   Probably cost me 20 to 30 minutes, but there is no way to pass with the faster people in the race coming down hill at you on the left side of the road.

One cool thing this year was the hot dog guys.  You might have to cut and paste in your browser to see them.  http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=643430    It was two guys, one dressed up as a chef and another dressed up as a waiter.   They were parked alongside a steep 4wd road that everyone was pushing their bike up.   They would come along and offer everyone pushing a hot dog and a beer.   Now this might sound like a very nice gesture, until you consider almost everyone is suffering from nauseau from the altitude and effort.   They got a lot of chuckles from the riders, but I didn't see anyone take them up on their offer.
I never stop at the aid station at the Columbine Mine turn around, because you have to decend to get to it.  I keep on going and climb back up to the highest point and cram a mojo bar in my mouth to chew on as I head down hill.
Most of the people I pass climbing pass me decending, but I was able to stay in front of some of them on my way back to the still crowded Twin Lakes aid station.
Another quick pit stop while the Ned and Jeffrey's neighbors cheered me on.  
From Twin Lakes to the Pipeline aid station it was like being on a mtn bike ride with a couple of your friends.  The 1,400 racers were really spread out, and sometimes it felt like you are riding alone.   Very mentally relaxing except for the butt pain, nauseau starting, and slight cramping.
I came to the top of a hill was a group of about twenty spectators under pavilions to my left cheering on racers.  As I came by they all stood up are starting "cheering Go PHIL!".  I looked and looked and could not find anybody I recognized, then I saw a pair of binocs and the race brochure with everyone's number and name.    Some one said "great face" about my surprised look and then they all started laughing and preparing for another racer.

It made me laugh, I pushed on to make the final time cut off, get food from Joanne, and push on to the last half of the race from 75 to 100 miles.


  1. OK, this brought tears to my eyes and has me all choked up. OMG! and you two keep doing this!!! The other PK

  2. So . . . Phil thinks I was trying to sabotage him by not properly attaching his front wheel. So I must explain. His front disc brake is a little funky and if it gets knocked out of alignment it makes it impossible to get the wheel locked on. At 4 am, in the 38 - 40 degree DARK OF NIGHT, I struggled to get the wheel attached and hurried so I could get his bike in a good spot in the starting queue. I checked the wheel then, and I also checked it later when I pumped up his tires to the particular PSIs he specified. I even have a witness! A very nice guy (who, by the way, said he reads this blog, which was really surprising and very nice to hear), helped me get the wheel attached.

    So . . . I tried to do right by Phil. Sometimes things just don't go according to plan. [jcm]