Zen On Dirt

Leadville: Preamble, distaster, aftermath

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I’d get a lot of weird looks when I’d tell people I was racing Leadville. I don’t blame them, it was about as unexpected at Jefe starting a blog and getting on Facebook, or Scott saying that the descent from Kennebeck Pass down to Durango was a little bit too much downhill singletrack. Generally, I tend to stay away from races that

a) have an entry fee

b) are a circus/are over-hyped

c) having non-technically challenging courses that are mostly on roads

I’ll tolerate one fail per race, but if I race has two strikes, it’s generally out in my book. But I had my reasons for Leadville and I put the race at the top of my priority list last fall when I sat down to plot my 2013.

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February riding in WP

Back in 2009, I was really good at racing 100-mile races. I’d won pretty much every 75-125 mile race in Colorado that summer and then went on to win 24-hours of Moab. I was flying high, every two weeks was a new race, a win, and loads of fun riding during the week and on off weekends. In 2010, I tried to redo my 2009 season and fell flat on my face. Fitness was elusive, getting skinny proving harder than I remembered, and the combination of everything that happened that summer left me wondering what had happened to Super-Ez. On the plus side, I’d slogged through the CTR, giving me a glimpse into the multi-day racing that would become my obsession.

Fast forward to post-Tour Divide last summer. I was tired. I wasn’t super inspired about any bike packing races, and more than anything, I missed being fast. Light and fast and being able to ride people off my wheel on steep hills. So I raced the Alpine Odyssey, got my spot into Leadville, and decided to get fast again.

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August riding in WP

Clearly, things did not go as planned. I knew back at the end of June that my preparation was no where near ideal when I was celebrating being able to ride two hours with tolerable knee pain, so when Leadville weekend came around, I didn’t have my usual racing confidence that I’d done everything in my power to be prepared. Well, I had done everything I could, except for maybe cut back on my chocolate consumption, but I didn’t exactly have a good hand to play. I was a little bummed about the situation, but determined to soak up the Leadville experience, and whatever would happen, would happen. I had faith in my muscle memory of how to pedal a bike quickly.

From the moment the gun went off at 6:30 in the morning, I knew I was in trouble. At the race dragged on, things didn’t improve. But things didn’t exactly go downhill either, just steady-state suck.

I’ve had bad days before on a bike. I just could have timed this one a little better.

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Zoom factor was lacking

Now, three days later, I still feel like I got run over by a truck, reminiscent of when I raced last fall with a parasite still living in my belly, which makes me think that something wasn’t quite right. But I also know that the only reason I wanted to race Leadville was to show up and be fast, so maybe when I realized that it violated all three of my ‘Stay Away’ requirements, and I wasn’t going to be able to go as fast as I know I’m capable of…maybe the heart wasn’t all the way in it.

Disappointed? Yep. Frustrated? Definitely. But more than anything, annoyed at the whole situation.

But to put it in perspective, on June 10, just two months before, my ride comments consisted of: Hour and a half ride in the morning, hour ride in the afternoon. Super easy. Knee felt solid. (Solid generally translates to Not great, not terrible in my book) So to be able to ride 100 miles with a good bit of climbing with no knee pain in a halfway reasonable time…I should be pretty stoked.

Still, I’m frustrated by the opportunity wasted. Scratching my head at what went so wrong. Figuring out solutions on how to fix it because the season ain’t over yet.

Bah. Leadville. I just wanted a good run at it so I’d never have to do it again.

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One thought on “Leadville: Preamble, distaster, aftermath

  1. I am sorry to hear that your Leadville experience was frustrating and annoying this year. I hope you find your “fast” and get back to feeling good on the bike soon.

    “Leadville. I just wanted a good run at it so I’d never have to do it again.” So where does that leave Leadville for you? :-)

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