Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Leadville 2016 - Part 2 - Testosterone Tim

In April of 2016, it was the Austin Rattler, I wasn't fast enough for an age group slot, wasn't lucky enough for a lottery slot. Then it was 100k at the Tahoe Trail, on a righteous tour of the West.

I had a stellar race at Tahoe, still wasn't fast enough, but lady luck tossed me a coin.

I'm toeing the line at my 4th Leadville Trail 100 MTB. 
I'm a lucky man.

Photo Credit- Eddie Clark Media

The Final 10 Miles

For 30 minutes The Monster and I have been trudging up to Carter Summit aid station. We make a quick pit and down a coke. After a minor climb out of Carter aid, there's flowing descents on the 2 miles over to the intersection of Uncle Buds Rd. The Monster demonstrates her descending prowess, and I do my best to keep up. Immediately following this intersection there's a tough bump up to the Kevin's descent. 

"Don't wait on me!" she announces. Following up with a "I'll catch up." 

After seeing her enduroesque bike handling minutes earlier, I had little doubt. 

I scramble on up the loose rocks and start that sweet release signifying the end is near, the Kevin's descent. I embrace the occasional drainage cut, feeling a little Red Bullish. With the turn at Gulch road the bottom drops out. That 12-14% gut punch from this morning, is now rutted nirvana.  I had 2 immediate goals, no broken bones and beating The Monster to the cattle guard. 

No broken bones, check. In the final downward pitch, she's there, I hear her coming, she passes, and it's well before the cattle guard. 

I feel old. I feel old and slow. 

We wind our way out of the trees, and get a taste of that wind.

That tailwind. That glorious tailwind.

Race Morning

After 2 trips back to the car, each time retrieving the essential items that my 5AM mind failed to gather. After as many trips to the porta-john, I'm in the green corral, and I'm somewhat jealous. A guy near me is outfitted in a thrift store bath robe. It's one of those full length avocado gems, you know, like your Grandma would wear all day when it's cold. It's around 35°F, and that my friends, is Grandma's robe weather. 

My steadfast crew chief, Cynthia, has done her part. She's delivered me to the starting line, and will then make her way to Twin Lakes to support my outbound and inbound stops there. The rest is up to me. I need to push myself, push myself really hard for 1 mile, then repeat that 103 times. I want a single digit finish. To finish this race is tough, to finish it in less than 10 hrs. is a substantial challenge.

On the Starting Line - Leadville 2016
It's nearly show time. My position in the green corral ends up silver after the gates drop and the file's compressed. 

The Start. Photo Credit: Eddie Clark Media

With a shotgun blast by Josh, hell hath no fury like the Leadville "neutral" roll-out. I recently heard a wise man suggest a progressive wave start for Leadville. I so look forward to that day. Beware of Testosterone Tim, he shows up to the corral at the last minute, then plows through a sea of mountain bikers to get to the leading edge of your corral. Timmy's gonna beat you to the railroad tracks, whatever it takes. Timmy will end your day early in his banzai run to the base of St. Kevin's.

Starting Line to the St. Kevin's Turn

In hindsight, I'm going to have to be more aggressive in the run to St. Kevin's turn. As you can see above, I'm trending the wrong way. I was feeling lightheaded early in the race, specifically on the Kevin's climb. Maybe that was my pace problem?

55 minutes after leaving 6th street I'm carving corners on the paved plunge to the tip of Turquoise Lake.

It's still cold. 

This cold is magnified by the 40 mph descent, in spandex. 

The Team Kuat vest, it's a keeper.

You'll work hard on the Sugar Loaf climb, but there's a reward. If the weather cooperates, and it did on race day, you're treated to some of the most breathtakingly beautiful vistas the Colorado Rockies has to offer. The sun shines warm on your chest, the race is still young, and you've ticked a couple of the climbing boxes. You feel like you're on top of the world. You're not, that comes later.

Sugar Loaf Ascent - Photo Credit: Eddie Clark Media

I'm a minute off my 2015 pace descending the brutally treacherous Powerline descent. I'm just too damn cautious. 

Base of Powerline, Outbound

I hit the paved flat and start the TT over to Pipeline. I feel strong through the singletrack and pool table smooth gravel over to Twin Lakes. Cynthia and the Atchison family have me in and out of the pit in a minute or less. 

Cynthia turning me around in short order. Twin Lakes Outbound.

I love the carnival on the outbound side of Twin Lakes. It the closest thing I've found to that warm fuzzy Dirty Kanza finish chute. A few more minutes and I'm at the base of Columbine. Team GU extraordinaire Yuri Hauswald is there. Yuri's shouting words of encouragement to the racers. I appreciate his words.

Things are looking up. Way up.


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