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|
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.
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|
|The Start. Photo Credit: Eddie Clark Media|
|Starting Line to the St. Kevin's Turn|
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.
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.
|Base of Powerline, Outbound|
|Cynthia turning me around in short order. Twin Lakes Outbound.|
Things are looking up. Way up.