Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Leadville 2016 - Part 3 - Can't Touch This

The view from St. Kevin's

No Trespassing

The Monster and I are on Tennessee Creek road, just off the base of St. Kevin's. The gradual arc to the South gives us a taste of Northerly wind from the Hwy. 24 valley.

It's a sublime feeling that tailwind.

A third rider joins our effort, we're 5 miles from the carpet, and a bit of "finish line high" enters our bloodstream. There's a gradual descent on the pavement down to the intersection of Turquoise Lake Rd., and it's time for a big gear. A twinge in my left hamstring tells me to unclip and stretch my leg......bad idea. The stretching initiated what could only be described as a thousand little knives being buried to the bolster. I'm working my hamstring with my left hand, eventually getting to the point I can clip back in. In the interim, The Monster and the other rider have worked around my slowing pace. Fortunately, the cramp subsides and I'm able to do work again. 

The three of us pass through the intersection, charging into the B road paralleling the tracks. Knowing this section well, I hit it hard and fast.

The Monster and I scramble up the rocky climb to the Boulevard proper. Beyond "minimal" I don't recall much of our conversation in this section. In 2015 Alban Lakata blasted up the Boulevard at 17.3 mph, because he's the "Albanator" and has that whole "SKYNET" thing behind him. (Not to be confused with team SKY, that would be the "Froomenator")

We're a bit slower, let's just say 50%ish. The Boulevard, ridiculously difficult. So close, yet so very far. 


The Long and Winding Road

In the early switchbacks of the Columbine climb, just above the Colorado Trail, I'm passed by a singlespeeder. He's climbing out of the saddle, his black kit form fitted to a lean muscular build, I know this kit, I know this rider, It's Elden "Fat Cyclist" Nelson. Elden has, via fundraiser, committed himself to the service of his lovely wife Lisa. His job, a domestique for Lisa in her bid to set the women's singlespeed course record. 

You Know What Time It Is?

I say hello, and ask "How's Lisa doing?"

"She's about 3 seconds behind me" he replied. 

I say hello to Lisa and wish her well, watching the two of them seemingly effortlessly disappear into a sea of riders ahead. 

The trees slowly disappear, followed shortly thereafter by the muscles in my legs. It's then I find myself at the Goat Trail. Founder Ken Chlouber is there, typically perched on his ATV, shouting words of, ahem, "encouragement." Most would consider it heckling, I take it as a compliment. Ken, he doesn't really care how you take it, just keep your ass moving.   

Columbine, Near the Turnaround

After 30ish minutes of working my way up the conga line, I remount and make the push over to Columbine aid station. This is the where the out and back changes from out to back. As a rule, you can double your time at Columbine and estimate your finish. Mean, median, mode, it's irrelevant at this point. I'm off pace, I know it, and I try to not let it consume me.  

My Grandson Liam, having learned I'm behind schedule at Columbine.
He takes my racing very seriously. 

I enjoy the words of encouragement from inbound traffic and act in kind. The reward for that 7 mile grind up is 7 miles of "how bad to I want to warp my brake rotors."  

I make conversation with a few riders en route to Twin Lakes, cross the dam, and find my crew. 

"Do you have a coke that's not warm?" I asked. I hope that didn't come out hateful. They quickly help me swap hydration packs and resupply me with waffles and gels. 

"How long have I been here?" I asked Cynthia.

Her reply, "It's time to go!" I complied, trying to stay optimistic, but I had a bit of dread in my mind. 

The windy flat work and the Powerline climb lie ahead. I make good time through the singletrack, and quickly find my way back to the Pipeline aid station. I didn't need fuel or drink, so I headed to the pavement. I found a few riders to work with, other trains were too fast for me, and I was left solo. I thought the wind was tough until I turned left at mile 76, It felt like an invisible wall, or maybe I was towing a cinder block, or a mobile home. Thankfully this drive West was short lived and I soon find shelter in the trees as Hwy. 300 curves around to the base of Powerline.

The Powerline climb is intimidating, but I was feeling better, rode the sections I could, and pushed the bike up the rest. The monotony of this climb is broken up by a few false flats, allowing short reprieves.

I know this climb well, and welcome mile 82.5 with open arms. I take the hardtail beating that Forest Rd. 105 dishes out and do my best to stay alert. With a 180° turn on Hagerman, I breathe a little easier and enjoy the ride.

 And then this happened. 

This will take you to the finish line.


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