Thursday, August 14, 2014

2014 Leadville Trail 100 MTB: Part 2

I'm at 12,500 ft, leaving the 50 mile aid station near Columbine Mine summit, en route back to Leadville. It has taken me just under 5 hrs. to get here. My goal; make it back to the finish line in less than 10h:30m total race time.  

Columbine Mine 50 Mile Aid Station- Photo Credit to Pete McBride

The Columbine descent drops ~3,000 ft. in 8 miles. The first section is the Goat Trail. Picture a dry creek bed ~5 ft. in width, a variety of rocks and ruts, a hint of a path, typically a single path wandering through it. Normally this would not be a problem, but add 1,200 mountain bikers, some pushing uphill at 4 mph and some riding down at 25+ mph. Further down the Goat Trail turns to double track. There are still bikers pushing, but the descending riders amp it up to 35-40 mph............makes for some tense moments.

The Goat Trail - Photo Credit to Pete McBride

The descent, even with the aforementioned challenges, is still a welcome change. A time to recover and enjoy the fruits of my labor. I climbed Columbine in 1hr:55m, the descent, 43 minutes. Cynthia and crew are stationed on the north side 
of the Twin Lakes dam. I prefer this as the main Twin Lakes Aid Station is a busy place. With assistance from Cynthia, I trade bottles and secure my Camelbak while Bill Ackermann tops off my rear tire, which had drifted down to 20ish psi. 

Twin Lakes Dam - Photo Credit to Pete McBride

Out of the Single-Track En Route to Powerline - Photo Credit to Pete McBride

The Columbine climb has taken a toll on my legs. Ahead of me I have a fairly flat, albeit winding leg back to Pipeline Aid Station at mile 73 inbound. I make a 30 second pit stop at Pipeline and pick up a small group of riders on the flat, working with them to time trial my way back to the base of Powerline. 

Pipeline Double-Track - Photo Credit to Pete McBride

I rode the lower section of the climb and started the soul crushing push up. As detailed in Part 1, I was struggling at this point and seriously concerned about my ability to finish, let alone meet my 10hr:30m goal. I initiated my "Active Recovery" plan, and continued eating and drinking while putting one foot in front of the other. There are a few sections I could ride, and then it was back to push mode. 

The second half of my race should have been faster than the first, (you don't have to climb Columbine on the inbound) but due to my bonk at Powerline, I feel much slower on the second half. My finish time concerns are exacerbated by the blank screen on my Garmin.......the battery has expired.

Around mile 83 I finish the Powerline ascent, and feel a bit more enthusiastic. Now the bone jarring, but welcome Sugarloaf descent. I work through the Sugarloaf rough stuff and breath a sigh of relief at the 180° turn onto Hagerman Pass #4 road. I enjoy the righteously smooth pave back to the tip of Turquoise Lake and start the climb. This paved hill looks like much of nothing on a profile map, but it's 2.5 miles of "nose to the stem" in the real world. I'm motivated knowing I descend St. Kevin's in a few more miles. 

At the mile 91 mini aid station I receive some much needed cheers from friends Jason Bettis and Ashley O'Reilly, I grab a GU drink and then back on the fire road. There's a few minor climbs en route to the St. Kevin's descent but nothing of substance. Bike traffic at this point is typically sparse and I descend St. Kevin's solo. I gap some riders mid way through the sandy double-track and reach the pavement with 4 other riders. As a group with a common goal, we make short work of the paved section over to the railroad service road. 

A hard left at the end of the railroad service road gives you the final Leadville gut punch.......road 36. This rock strewn incline has been the undoing of many riders. It's not that steep, it's not technical, but it is DIFFICULT! You think, "I've ridden 100 miles, I've climbed +12,000 ft, I want this to be over!" will be in about 3 miles. I spend the next 2 miles constantly checking my rear tire, convinced I'm flatting. I push hard, unknowing if I'm remotely close to meeting my 10hr:30min goal. 

"Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory" - Mahatma Gandhi

At mile 102.5 I turn right on 6th street. There's slight climb, and then, from top of the hill, you can see the finish line. A rush of emotions come over me........questions run through my mind. "Did I meet my goal?" "I'm glad this is over with!" "How did my friends do?" A cheering crowd funnels you to the center, you can taste the finish. Two people I'm so thankful to call my friends, John & Cynthia Bradley make their way out to tag my hand just prior to the red carpet. With the final pedal strokes I look right and see the clock.......10:04:46.

I'm right there behind him.........about 3 hours and 50 minutes later
Todd Wells at the Finish - 6:16:27

I coast across the finish line, work my way to the right side and put my face down on the bars, allowing a few seconds to gather myself. After about 15-20 seconds a man's voice says "you okay?" I look up to see Dave Wiens (6 time Leadville Trail 100 MTB champion). Dave's a great ambassador to mountain biking and the genuine article. I assure Dave I'm not going to pass out, Abby Long medals me and sends me on my way. I'm handed a chocolate milk then work my way out of the finish corral. I find a spot to lean my bike and plop down on a step to enjoy a much needed rest. 

The Stats!

Buckle UP........I'm gonna get me some BOOTS!

 I am temporarily satisfied................

Myself and Selene Yeager
 I ran into Selene Yeager Sunday morning at the awards ceremony and she was kind enough to add her signature to my copy of "Rush to Glory"

A shuttle trip to Denver, a six hour delay, and a short flight to Branson later, I meet up with my lovely wife Ronna.

I'm back to 1,200 ft..........It's good be home. 


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