Monday, August 23, 2010

Leadville Adventure Report – Part One: Pre-Race

For those of you who’ve been reading my blog, it should come as no surprise that Kerry and I were super excited to have the opportunity to race in the Leadville 100 mile Mountain Bike race. It’s a lottery style entry, so getting a race number is almost as challenging as the race itself. With that in mind, we did everything we could to make it count.

Although I’ve never attempted an endurance MTB race like this, Kerry and I have been racing Mountain bikes off and on for the last five or six years. We’ve done our share of Xterra’s ,Buck Hill, and MORS cup races, but these events typically range in the 10-25 mile range. The Leadville 100MTB was about stepping very far from of our comfort zone… and of course meeting and training with new friends, and bringing home a flashy new belt buckle!

We decided to drive to Colorado, and left town a week early in an attempt to learn how to breathe at 10,000ft.
After stopping in Boulder to catch up with a few friends and watch the Boulder 70.3 on Sunday (and sneak in an 18miler), we finally made our way up the Mountains Sunday afternoon.

To properly kick off the Leadville party, we enjoyed a Cowboy grill out at ‘Camp LTF’ Sunday night: Here's the view from the backyard – BA grilled our mega steaks on the open camp fire, and asking for it medium WELL was not a wise move! Many LTF folks had been in town for a few weeks (as they had exciting business to complete), so it was fun to catch up and hear all the stories from the trails, which included several Lance rendezvous and the most up to date course conditions.

After a little birthday surprise cake, we headed to our log cabin in Buena Vista to set up camp for the week. Special thanks to Merilee for giving us the keys to such a beautiful home – WOW – it was perfect!

I must admit that it was challenging staying in such a beautiful place and being forced to rest. I just wanted to ride and hike and play Colorado style. Instead, I actually worked three days from the cabin: Here's our home office
– In the end, this was probably a smart move on my part as tapering properly would have been impossible with the appeal of the adventure filled outdoors. I did in fact take the day off Monday to visit Colorado Springs and catch up with an old teammate from ISU. She hooked us up at her Country Club (CC of C) where we had the luxury of swimming in a 50m outdoor pool. What a treat - I think this was my first swim in a long course pool all year, and then add that to the glorious Mountain Views, and no pool traffic and we were in heaven. From the pool we made our way to the Iconic Broadmoor GC where Cathy works - That place is spectacular, and will host the Women’s US Open next year. We played a little golf, and enjoyed a dinner filled with all kinds of ‘blast from the past’ moments before heading back to BV.

Thank again Cathy for completely spoiling is in COS. We owe ya!

We stayed away from the Leadville hustle all week, but Friday came quickly and it was time to get ready for the big day. We drove into Leadville for the mandatory check-in and meeting. Race director Ken Clouber delivered a motivational speech to a packed house of 1600+ riders and crews. He told stories of toughness and fortitude, with the theme of “DON”T YOU QUIT”. As I looked around the gymnasium, I don’t think I saw a dry eye. Clearly the emotions of what we were about to experience, and what we’ve experienced to get there were at an all time high. My words certainly can’t do it justice, but it was a very special moment we all shared from the event.

As depicted in this photo, a race like this takes a lot of prep, and I’m not talking about training. Getting our stuff (nutrition and extra clothes, supplies) organized for our crew was an operation. We had a very knowledgeable crew and certainly owe them a great deal of thanks for what they did for us on race day.

I managed to get to bed by 9pm – and up again at 4am! Race day was finally here…

Part two: Race Day... to be continued.