Leadville Trail 100 Run: Interlude
Solid steps laid before me. My body moves in unison with the trail. Carving precise foot falls. It’s approaching 11 pm. I’ve logged 70 miles. Beside me is Chad. We’re moving towards Fish Hatchery.
Chad reminds me of the importance of not getting ahead of myself. He helps bring my focus to the present. We’re running under a gaping black sky. The chill of night has cooled things down to a comfortable 40 degrees. I hear Chad moving his feet next to me. So, I do the same.
Calmness finds me. I wear it like a cloak to the next aid station.
Leadville Trail 100 Run: Interlude
- Chad: Those shiny lights up ahead, see them? That's Fish Hatchery.
- Me: Roads pretty nice, eh?
- Chad: Here's a gel. Get it in you. Powerline will demand everything you've got.
- Me: That's the start of mile 75?
- Chad: Just keep it steady. Nice road, eh?
Come what may, all bad fortune is to be conquered by endurance.
Hope Pass. John & I cruisin to Twin Lakes. Photo by Caleb Wilson
Puke was all over my foot. Maybe the altitude was getting to me? My stomach emptying all the food ate at Winfield onto my toenails. Pebble-sized Cliff Bar chunks. Wetting the trail in vomit.
John helped me up. Giving me Gatorade to replace electrolytes. The music speaker he brought blasted ambient soundscape tracks. They echoed off the mountains. The vibration urging me forward.
Hope Pass sat with runners on Its back. Switchbacks gave way to different perspectives. Some where headed to Winfield. Others on their way to Twin Lakes.
I gained the saddle. 12,400 ft. Took in the view with John. Below us Twin Lakes. To our left Mt. Elbert. And 50 miles off in the distance, Leadville.
Leadville calls us forward. We start the descent…
…6 days I wait. The Leadville Trail 100 Run is next on my plate. The summer has been good to me. Returning thee to my love of running.
Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race
Tony and I arrived at Leadville early Saturday morning and hunkered down at City On a Hill coffee shop to await the 6:30 am starting gun. Me, stretching, Tony, drinking a mocha. We discussed race strategy. Both of us feeling good about my chances of finishing before the 12 hour cutoff.
There were eight corrals for riders to start from. Being registered as a Leadman gave me access to corral seven. A fitting spot for a novice rider. Around 30 minutes until the start of the ride, I moved my bike into position and watched as other riders do the same. I’m nervous. The good kind. A healthy anticipation for the journey that lays ahead.
The week prior, I had my Gary Fisher 26 Hardtail tuned up. Gripping my bike’s handlebars and clipping into its pedals was metaphorically sitting in a brand new BMW 3 series. Locked in. Clean.
The final verse of the Star Spangled Banner is belted out and with its conclusion came the starting gun. A shotgun shell spit upon the morning sky. Two thousand riders lurched forward. Time to ride!
The introductory miles lead us down 6th Street, on a dirt service road up St. Klevins, around Turquoise Lake, and past Mayqueen. Though there are bottlenecks on portions of tricky terrain, my body resonates with the ride’s stop-n-go pace. Patience is a virtue. By the time our group of riders hit Hagerman Pass, our ball of bikers is now a strewn line. Waiting pays off. I take the uphill with confidence. In doing so, gain a better position in the pack.
Powerlines buzzed as I maneuvered through cyclists down the steep descent towards Fish Hatchery. I passed the spot where a few weeks ago I had blown a flat. Tubes and tires intact I make it to the road without looking back.
A pack of bikes draft off each other. I utilized my time watching July’s Tour De France, hugging the back tire of the rider in front of me. Wind whizzing by us. Pedaling in this position never felt more easy.
At mile thirty, we merged with single track trail. It’s well carved out, allowing my Gary Fisher to form to its contour. I ride clean lines through this section. Resulting in smooth transitions up rolling grades and gentle downhills.
Twin Lakes sits in front of me. Waving with fans, crews, kids, dogs, and an aid station with food. There I reunited with Tony. I slam a Vega Nutrional Shake and prepared myself for the race’s steepest ascent, Columbine.
Having rode conservative early gave me a huge advantage at this stage of the ride. I use efficient pedal strokes to work my way past bikers. Moving up the ranks. Climbing vertical. 12,400 ft. This is the most scenic portion of the ride. Gaping views of the Collegiate Mountain Range. Off in the distance, our starting and ending point, the town of Leadville.
I take a moment to savor the sights, restock on electrolytes, gels, and water. Now, the fun part. Fourteen miles of epic downhill!
Shwish!!!!!! And I’m on flatland riding gravel and sand. Handlebars clenched in my hands. The wind at my face has me feeling like Superman.
Fellow riders are no where to be seen. It’s just me out here. Cruising the breeze. Seeing the trees. Hard to believe that things feel this good. But, why shouldn’t they?
I’m coasting past rolling sections of single track and onto the road towards Fish Hatchery. There’s a 1,000 ft. incline that welcomes me at the base of Powerline. I analyze the technicality of the ascent. Thinking its best to get out of the saddle, I hoof the uphill. Calculated breathing. I push my bike upward like a cowboy steering a steer. After all, this is cattle country.
The moment when my calves burn so bright that my body starts shaking despite the respite in grade of ascent, with knees bent I sense the downhill approaching. I hop on my Gary Fisher and remember my coaching. Tony said, “Use the downhill to gather your wind. Relax. And if you want use your pedals and start to spin.”
Up and down and around and around until 5 miles lays before me and the finish line. Mile 95 and my body is alive. I got what it take to finish!
All along 6th Street, people line the road encouraging riders forward. I am one those. Stoked to have this view. The reward of discipline is sweet when the payoff is coasting through a sea of happy faces cheering you on. I greet the finish line. Thoroughly exhausted with endorphins pumping out of my head.