Gentle readers, we have now journeyed through the lead-up to and the prior experience with Leadville. What is left is the real reason for our gathering together here today. The actual riding of the 2010 Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race.
I previously outlined the major training rides I did in 2007. That year I focused on long distances with the idea that the best way to be ready for a 12 hour ride was to do multiple long rides in the 10+ hour category. I didn't spend too much time on intensity and I didn't do any racing. I trimmed weight and I thought that the distance in my legs to cover the Leadville distance. It may have been true that year, but I clearly didn't respect the ride enough to make sure I stayed on track the final two weeks and I didn't respect the deleterious impact of the altitude by arriving too close but not far enough prior to the race.
In contrast, in 2010, I did not do a single 200 mile road ride, or actually any ride much over 6 hours, but I added a lot more rides during the work work, rather than just focusing on long weekend rides, and more back-to-back rides. I did more hours per week as a result. I added more racing to my schedule and tried to add a lot more intensity in my rides, whether long or short. Instead of long, steady efforts, I figured it was better to burn-out and die on a ride if it would add strength overall. I also tried to add hills to virtually every ride I did, including adding three 7-10 minute hills to my commute home for work. I also worked a bit more diligently on dropping weight to help with the hill-climbing and did some running early in the season to both cut weight and help be ready for the walking uphill that is necessary in Leadville. I also made sure that I had a schedule that ran right up to the race day and stuck to it. In the 5 1/2 weeks just prior to leaving for Leadville, my Garmin says I biked over 82 hours, 1,100 miles and burned 33,000 calories. And lastly, I arrived in Leadville as close to the race as I could and I researched the area around Leadville and looked for place to stay in Vail because it's elevation was 8,100 feet, which was 2,100-2,300 feet below Leadville.
One note on equipment, which gets a LOT of attention by potential Leadville riders. In 2007 I rode a 26" hardtail - a Rocky Mountain Team SC. It was lightweight, but it was an accidental purchase, rather than fitted to me and it was probably too small. I didn't have any mechanicals, but just after the 2007 race I tried out PW's Niner A.I.R. I was immediately and completely sold on the 29er wheel size and, importantly, frame size/geometry of the 29er. I bought a Niner E.M.D., previously blogged about, but was lucky enough to upgrade to a Gary Fisher Superfly just before the 24 Hour Race. It is a superior bike and assuming you want a hardtail for Leadville, I can't imagine there is a better bike. The other guys I rode "with" (really, I was behind them all day), all had dual suspension bikes. I know I would go downhill faster on one, but I also assume I would go uphill slower on one with the additional weight. Since I am already carrying too much weight and need all the help I can get on the uphills, I went with the hardtail. I also fussed about tires a lot and ended up with Bontrager 29-3's, in the widest variety, both front and back. Again, thanks to the guys at Two Wheel Transit for the hand holding on this, but I think the tire was a great choice. I never gave a moment's thought to the tires no matter what I was banging into and while the course was rockier than I had recalled, the tires performed perfectly and I had no mechanical issues except the one where the engine could have pushed the pedals faster.
So, to sum it all up, I tried to improve upon the things I did right and correct the things I did wrong. I also think it helped a lot to have seen the course to know what I was up against. So, as I sat in the old gymnasium sitting through the racer meeting which runs with the spirit of a revival meeting in the deep South, I was ready to be done with the talking and I was just ready to ride.
So, in the spirit of the best advertising teases, the race report starts tomorrow.