So there she is. My old 2002 Specialized Hardtail mountain bike and two time Leadville veteran. She's not as curvy and sleek as my Trek road bike, and not as plush and comfortable as my Specialized Epic Full suspension mountain bike. She is however lighter (a svelte 23 lbs) than the Epic without a lick of carbon fiber. And since Leadville is mainly on roads and has a lot of climbing I had to picked her. It's not as if the Epic is fat, just big boned. I assured my hardtail that I didn't have my eye on one of those new tricked out carbon fiber jobs but secretly at night I would log on to the Internet and Fantasize.......
I got her all cleaned up, put on some new rubber, lubed her, and tightened her up. We really were intimate... I packed my bags and was ready to go. Jim Dirksen showed up at 7:30 Friday morning to give me a ride to Leadville to register and go to the prerace meeting. He is a local legend who was racing in the M5 category. It hadn't rained for weeks--Of course now it was raining.
Anne and the kids were coming over in the afternoon and we would go to Copper Mountain where we had a condo that afternoon. Grandma Sue and Grandpa Bill were going to show up and watch the kids and help Anne with crewing (and be the official photographer), respectively. But unfortunately Grandma while picking daisies, slipped. The resulting fall broke her tibia, fibula and 3 bones in her foot. So with a plate installed less than a week before the race she decided that maybe she was in too much pain without a morphine drip to come. Luckily we have some great people in Gunnison that were willing to help. Becky, my scrappy partner in the Elk Mt Grand Traverse (See post) came over that night to help crew. Emily, a Western State student, came over early as we left for the race to watch the kids.
So Jim and I headed out. As we drove up Monarch Pass (11300') we were engulfed in a thick mist. Then out of the mist in front of us appeared a large suburban. The infamous Dave Wiens . He beat Lance last year but it would be difficult this year. I think he was ready to do the race as he had been training hard. We waved and hung out behind over the pass. Leadville had low hanging clouds but the weather wasn't too bad. The registration went fast. Got a water bottle, bag, Mountain Flyer magazine and a T shirt. I also got a wrist band so I could start in the front since I was 32nd last year. This would relieve some stress. The prerace meeting was the usual. Ken Choubler rallying the troops into battle, "I Commit! I won't Quit" we shouted in unison. " You're better than you think you are, You can do more than you think you can " Then Dave comes in to huge cheers and tons of cameras flashing gave a short speech. No Lance. After the meeting, Jim and I hung out to let some clouds move over, got some coffee and went on a short ride. At 3:30, Anne showed up and we loaded the bike and headed for Copper Mountain. Becky showed up and we got everything in order.
The first thing to do was to make a peanut butter sandwich that I would be offered at mile 60 or 80 during the race but probably decline it. But WAIT we forgot the jelly! No problem, I had a vanilla gu that had developed a leak. We'll use that. Here is Anne making the peanut butter and gu sandwich.
We filled water bottles with Gu2O, got extra water for Anne and Becky, got piles of gus, power bars, tools, extra tubes and clothes. Becky helped pin my number on my jersey very aerodynamically and I got the two numbers on my bike and sticker on my helmet. I also made some pancakes for the morning and set the coffee maker to go. It was a clear night as we went to bed.
At 4:30 we got up to a light rain. Emily showed up from her sister's place in Silverthorn and off we went. I grabbed a handful of pancakes and some coffee and checked the blood sugar. All good. I had taken 15 units of Lantus the night before. This is the same as I normally take. I had been real active normally so I felt that I didn't need to reduce it.
As we headed up Fremont pass on wet roads up towards the closed Climax molybdenum mine out of the mist appears the Wien's Suburban.... We found out later that they forgot the race food! Stressful! So they were a little late like us as they had to go back. I was getting worried that I may indeed freeze this day as I tried to ride at 12000' in the rain but BEHOLD first the moon appeared and then to the south as if to lead us to Leadville it was a star. THE STAR OF LEADVILLE! We followed this miracle of light, turned on the IPOD randomly as Anne can't see to well up close these days to INXS loudly (OK yes INXS is on the ipod) and as we got to Leadville the skies cleared to a light dusting of snow on the peaks.
We parked behind Dave, Susan and his brother and got the stuff out. I pumped up my tires, gave Dave a good luck high five and we all headed up to the start line. At the start line I gave Anne some secret sign language. I think she was more stressed out than me. At 6:00 clouds began to flow over the mountains we were heading into as the film crew in a helicopter flew over. We sent Becky back to the car to get more rain gear! At 6:30 they shot of the shotgun and off we went. As we followed the lead car we quickly accelerated to 30-35mph. Lance must have told them he wanted to go fast...to break the record... We made it to the dirt road turn off and off we went. The lead pack was gone so fast I didn't even see them go. My pack cruised along and then began the first climb. It was misty and cool with rainbows popping up here and there. We continued quickly over the first climb and the second. Here it began to rain and fingers and toes began to get really cold. Descending the power line was wet and hard to see. I hit a bump and lost a water bottle. Since I wasn't seeing Anne and Becky for 25 mi I stopped and picked it up. Big mistake as a guy I just passed got ahead of me and went really slow down the rutted out steep road. I couldn't pass safely so I stayed behind. If I raced more, I would have passed him I'm sure. So we reached the bottom and I felt a little off. We passed through the first aid at 26 mi and then down dirt roads with smaller hills. I hit the new single track and felt really not fast at all. Cold hands, sunglasses covered with water and dirt. The single track added 0.5 mi out and back to reroute around a steep hill. I eventually got to the aid station. Anne and Becky quickly put new water bottles in and lubed my chain. Susan D. helped shove dry wind resistant gloves on my hands since I couldn't move them. Here are some shots at the Twin lakes aid.
As I began to climb, it was clearing nicely and I began to get warmer. I climbed at a moderate pace still feeling off. Last year I climbed it 10 min faster. At the start I took off my cheap plastic rain coat but couldn't get it back in my pocket so after wasting to much time I tossed it behind a tree and continued. Here are some pics courtesy of Summer R. at mi 45 or so.
The road switchbacks up and finally gets steeper as you climb above treeline. Here is a video of Lance and Dave that shows the terrain . Near the top you can see the turn around way off around a sweeping turn. This puts the hurt on many people as they are really tired and at 12000' and then you can still see the top a long ways off. For me as I climbed around the bend, it began to get very windy and begin to hail. This was good since I dropped my rain jacket at the bottom and hail just bounces off. Rain would have been freezing! I got to the top as fast as I could and turned around and rode back down the wet road past the throngs coming up. Again I got a bit cold but at the the bottom the sun was out and Anne and Becky got my water and lubed my chain again. Here's Becky at the aid.
And I was off. Since I had not been going super fast up to this point, I began to feel better and better and started going pretty fast as I warmed up. The last 40 mi I passed a lot of people that were looking really tired. My split time for the last leg was 12 min faster than last year.
Only 40 miles to go! Can't help but smile....
I got to the finish and there were still quite a few people who where cheering loudly as we came in. Merrilee (one of the organizers) put a medal around my neck and gave me a big motherly hug. Then Anne came over to the racer exit with the kids and I lay down for a minute and got some food.
My blood sugar was 63 a few minutes after finishing. I think it was fine for the entire race but was probably dropping towards the end. I ate regularly--gu every 35 min. I also ate a couple of power bars during the longer climbs. We went and had some pizza and headed back to Copper Mountain.
I finished in 08:11:43 and 28th place overall. Lance was in in 06:28:50.9 and Dave came in at 06:57:02.0. I was sorry for Dave but that's the way it goes. All the other pro riders were in the 7 hr range. I was alittle annoyed by some slowness going up the big hill and the middle stretch but not too bad anyway.
The next day we took off to the awards and who do we pull up behind on the highway--Dave. He's going to think we're stalking him. The awards were pretty cool. Everyone who finished goes up and gets they're buckle. Under nine hours get a big buckle. And girls get a necklace/pendant or something also. Lance showed promptly at 9 and gave a talk along with the women's champion (who I barely got ahead of by the way--I thought she was a guy most of the race). Dave then gave a talk and I have to say the applause was much louder for him.
After I got another BIG belt buckle, we went outside and I got my sweatshirt with my name and time printed on the sleeve. Then we headed back to Gunnison via Cottonwood pass. On the top who is there? Wiens. He was waiting for Susan to ride up the pass and then he was off to Gunnsion and she was riding the rest of the way. We also saw 4 guys riding longboards down the pass. Crazy. I saw they had a helmet cam and asked them if they had a video--here it is.