Sunday, August 10, 2008

Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race (2008)

Tough day out there yesterday...

In the end it ended like this:

- BB2: 11:20
- Jason: 11:54
- JG: 12:40
- Manny: 13:04

I tried my hardest.  I did.  I really wanted that buckle, but again, it just wasn't my day.  From the beginning my fire calf was killing me.  I kept popping advil all day, but it did little to alleviate the pain.  I pushed through it but kept having to slow down or stop to alleviate the pain some.  The incredibly hard bike pushing up Columbine and Powerline did not help the cause.  Then on the way back from Twin Lakes a bad storm hit in Leadville, the way we were headed.  So for most of the way back (the last 40 miles) we were fighting cold rain, but worst, 20+ mph winds right on our face.  You think wind is tough on the road, wait till you have to deal with is off-road with a 25lbs bike.  Those of you who know me know my struggles with the wind.  If not for that wind, I would have definitely made it in under 13.  But 12 hours was already out of my reach.  Anyway, enough for the excuses.  In the end I just didn't have it.  And knowing what I know now, I don't know if I could ever have it.  I trained as well as I think I can train for this race, and still failed.  Yeah, there was not much I could do about the fire calf, but even without that problem this would have been a very tough race for me.

Having actually finished the entire 100 miles this time, I have to reiterate that this is the hardest race I have ever done. Several times during the race people commented on my M-Dot tatoo.  It was probably 15 different people.  And probably 10 of them asked me the same thing, which race did I think was harder, Leadville or Ironman.  Each time I answered them the same, Leadville is 10 times harder.  I told one guy I would rather do am ultra-Ironman (double the distances) than do Leadville.

The climbing on this race is just simply hard.  There's 12,000 feet of climbing, about 2000 of them on paved roads, but the other 10,000 on trails.  On some very tough trails.  The climbing up Columbine is so tough.  Not only is it a steep climb, but then you are going from about 9500 feet to 13000 feet, so with each pedal stroke it gets harder to breath.  Then as I have previously said, there is the two miles at the top of Columbine of bike pushing.  Then there's the [s]climbing[/s] bike pushing up the 3-miles of Powerline, which are just soul sucking (around the 80 mile mark).  I almost think I would rather do Columbine twice, than have to push my bike up Powerline at that point.

One thing I do have to admit, the descents on the ride almost make the pain and misery worth it.  You mountain bikers in the crowd will understand.  The descent as just plain fun!  It starts with the long technical descent down Powerline.  I was a lot more confident this year than last, and I was hammering it.  It was so cool!  It helps when you have a bike than can handle the terrain well.  Then there's the descent from Columbine.  Man is that shit fun!  45 minutes of pure downhill ecstasy.  Truly a blast.  Again this year I was a lot more confident than last, so I was zooming and passing lots of people on the downhill.  On the way back into town you hit another two long and technical descents.  One on the backside of Powerline, which funny enough is called Sugarloaf.  Go figure.  And another on the way into town.  Both of them are very rocky.  Lots of loose rocks on the trail.  So it's fun hammering down and having to keep your eye 20 feet in front of you picking the best line to avoid a serious crash.  Like I said, the descents alone would be enough to get me to do this race again.

So anyway, I was just past the 90 mile mark when the 12-hour time limit hit.  I was disappointed, but at least I wanted to finish the whole thing.  But those last 10 miles are no picnic.  There is some rocky climbing near the beginning, then the last long descent into town.  Then once in town, there is another 6 miles of trail riding with one long climb of about 3 miles.  Not steep at all, more like a false flat.  Just a nice steady climb, which after 95 miles is enough to make you want to kill someone, or yourself.  Once you get off that trail there is just 0.5 miles left on a paved road, all uphill of course.  I hit the 13-hour mark just before hitting that paved road.  :(

Will I be back?  I don't know.  I really want that buckle, but I just don't know if I have it in me.  I feel better that I completed the entire thing this year.  That might be enough to satisfy me for now.

Congrats to BB2 who completed the race despite having serious technical issues with his bike the entire day!  Congrats to Jason for just leaving it all on the line and making it just under that coveted 12-hour mark.  Awesome job J!  And congrats to JG (Jim Gabbert) who on his first attempt at the race did great and finished it in 12:40.

Thanks also to Taylor and Martha (Dudley) and Wendy Chioji for coming out to watch and also support us.  It was nice seeing you guys!

And of course, a huge thanks to our wonderful and lovely support crew which was just fantastic!  Alli, Erica, Lori, Nikki, Ashley, and Matt.  Truly the best there is.  Not only did they take great care of us, the girls were massaging my fire calf at each stop to help with the pain.  They were awesome encouraging us and supporting us the entire day!  You guys rock!

P.S. - We have some good pics of the race, and some great pics of Lance.  I will post them later on.

P.P.S. - At least now I can say I have raced against Lance Armstrong. Not many people can say that. :)