Friday, August 24, 2012

The Much Delayed Leadville 100 Race Report

My race at Leadville started the day before.....and it didn't start well. I'd been riding strong the past week, tapered well, and the legs were feeling pretty snappy. The altitude didn't seem like it was too much of a problem and I was pretty psyched to get to racing. I had been assigned number 208 meaning I'd start in the first 100 or so riders- maybe even get close to a front row start. With 3,000 riders behind me instead of in front, things were looking good.......
That was until I got the stomach bug that had plagued Brad and Bill the night before. I spent most of the night with a swollen abdomen needing to blow chunks all over the bathroom. I finally laid down around 1:00 but couldn't relax. he room was too hot and I could hear and feel my heart pounding in my chest. I think I got to sleep around 3:30. The 4:00 wake up was rough, I felt like total crap. My stomach was back to normal but I felt completely empty inside. It was very hard to get motivated to race but I got ready to roll. Brad and I both delayed rolling to the start as long as possible instead preferring to sit motionless like statues staring off into nowhere. Brad had slept zero hours that night and wasn't feeling well either.
So we head downtown trying not to get run over in the early morning darkness. As we got close to the race start all we saw was a sea of people. Brad headed to the back for his unfortunate 3117 row start and I headed to the front. Finally, I got to the head of affairs and into the first corral of riders. Somehow I got a front row start, making me feel a little more upbeat. After a few call ups for World Champs, past winners, and other somewhat fast people, the shotgun went off and we were rolling.
The trip out of town was nerve wracking to say the least. The first couple of miles were nuetral and this really sketched things out. There was a lead vehicle that we couldn't pass. This was bad due to the fact that they wouldn't drive fast enough causing a massive mushrooming at the front as riders were charging up from further back and then locking up the brakes. Thank God I was able to pretty much stay in the first 5-10 riders and stay out of trouble. Soon, the truck pulled off and it was on! We hit the flat dirt road leading to St. Kevin's and the hammer got dropped. I hit it as hard as I could but the legs protested loudly and I slid back a few spots to somewhere more comfortable. Then the climbing started and I really only had one speed for awhile until I recovered from the early hard effort.
I felt a little better on the rollers leading to the pavement descent from St. Kevin's and was moving forward again. Passing people wasn't as tough as I thought and the short climbs were helping me out. The shallow grade Sugarloaf climb to the top of the Powerline really wasn't bad at all and I stayed in about the same position here. The descent down the Powerline was rediculous. Not a hard descent, I was confused as to what people were doing. It was a double track descent but as far as I could see, everyone was on the left in a long, slow conga line about 10 mph slower than they should have been going. Bizzarre. Yes, the right line was a little rockier and rougher but it was more than worth it to not ride the brakes behind someone all the way down. I took the right and passed probably 50 people on the way down. Things were going great until I was almost down......then I went down. Some ( obviously a west coast rider ) guy, got himself cross rutted at 4 mph, high sided, and got flung into me. I was going quite a bit faster and went down really hard. The dirt on the Powerline feels like concrete by the way and tore me up pretty good. After taking a few minutes to regain my senses, I took stock of the damage. I was bleeding from the knee pretty good and had good bit of pain from somewhere deep inside it, scraped elbow, and quite a bit of pain in my left hip. My bike was fine for once...a slightly bent front disc rotor but quite functional. Remounting, it took some time to get back in a groove and ride well again....something like another 3 hrs or so. I rode terrible for the next 3 hrs. I hurt all over, was in an angry funk, and my left leg felt like it had no power at all.
Pushing on with a 7 1/2 hr finish now out of reach I decided plan B was to get in under 9 hrs and still earn myself a big gold and silver belt buckle. I went backwards all the way until 1/2 way up the Columbine climb. I can't explain it but I then did nothing but go forward. I didn't get passed by anyone else the entire race. After feeling like death for 45 miles I now felt like I was a bike racer again and set to passing folks. The higher I went, the better I felt. All the way up, then flying on the way down. It took me 1:40 to do that 3,300 foot climb to 12,600 feet and 20 min to get back down. Flying back down through Twin Lakes I hit the rollers and moved out. At about 60 miles in I caught another Pro that had gone through some mechanical issues and we started working together. By the time we hit the top of the Powerline on the way back he told me that we'd passed 244 riders. At least we'd be finishing strong! I lost sight of him when I flatted 7 miles out. Assured of a sub 9 hr finish, I soft pedaled in enjoying the end of a tough day. Not the finish I came for but still proud I finished in under 9. The crowd and reception at the finish was pretty amazing. I've done a ton of these 100 milers but didn't really appreciate what this one means to people until I hit the finish. Leadville really was a top notch event with terriffic support. If you can get in- go do it! DH

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