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Shortly I will be enterprise the second mountain bike race of my life… just a bit factor referred to as the Leadville 100. You’ll have heard of it! Little did I notice after I accepted a spot on the Lifetime Grand Prix (LGP) tour that I’d be leaping into the deep finish of endurance mountain bike racing with one of many greatest on the planet. Regardless of my rookie standing, I am truly feeling fairly ready for this one.
Cease #2 for me on the Lifetime Grand Prix was the brutal Crusher within the Tushar, a 69.9-mile gravel race out of Beaver, Utah. A mere 112km appeared like a stroll within the park in comparison with the 320km of Unbound 200.
Impressed by how exhausting my fellow opponents needed to trip to complete on the prime in Emporia, Kansas, I approached this race a bit otherwise: assault the primary climb and attempt to stick with the entrance of the race for so long as I might. The danger: blow up on the second climb and limp by the relentless previous couple of miles as much as the mountain-top end. The reward: see what sort of health this tiger actually had…and possibly simply shock myself.
My technique paid off. My coronary heart price skyrocketed for the primary hour as I attempted to maintain the leaders in sight. After that, I settled into the grind to succeed in the highest on the two-hour mark and begin the sketchy descent. Sadly, I slid out on one of many hairpins as what appeared to be my ongoing “filth nap” saga and went down. Fortunately I had only a little bit of a painful, bloody elbow and knee to cope with; my bones and bike got here out unscathed. I used to be in awe of the racers with clearly higher bike dealing with expertise who had been careening down the mountain prefer it was no huge deal. Like significantly, how on earth do they try this?!
As soon as on the HOT pavement main into the subsequent 30 miles of ascending, I gratefully obtained right into a paceline with fellow LGP racer Melissa Rollins who warned me that the subsequent part “sucks.” And suck it did. Temps had been grazing into the excessive 90s, and because the pitch went up, it obtained bumpy, sandy, and slippery. That is the place the psychological toughness actually wanted to kick in. I attempted to maintain up with the racers in entrance of me and used the upcoming assist station as a carrot to simply hold me ploughing ahead at what felt like a snail’s tempo.
With my hydration bladder refilled and a pitcher of chilly water dumped on my head (THANK YOU, wonderful volunteers!), I powered again up the sketchy hairpins that had claimed a few of my pores and skin on the way in which down, fortunately shocked that I used to be certainly nonetheless capable of push the center price up and “keep the ache” with out my quads giving out or cramping up.
Do not be deceived when you attain the highest of this two-hour climb. The final six miles of Crusher will break you when you have not ready or saved a little bit for the ultimate steep pitches as much as the ski resort. Grinding out of the saddle at 40 rpm on what felt like a 20% grade, staring on the floor forward of me, sweat dripping into my eyes, I gave all of the gasoline left in my tank to get to that end line in slightly below 5 hours and 20min. It was sufficient to get me eighth within the LGP rankings and a few much-needed factors towards the general. I did additionally get my very own non-binary podium, as I used to be the one NB competitor this 12 months. I’d like to see extra nonbinary athletes deal with this beast of a race in 2023!
Put up-Crusher, I’ve been BUSY racing, together with a stellar swim-bike-run on the PTO Canadian Open triathlon. I additionally simply received IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder this previous weekend, doubtlessly making me the oldest (ahem) 70.3 Champion in historical past. Between these triathlons, I hit up the Leadville MTB Stage Race to see what I’d be getting myself into. This was absolutely the good course recon for Leadville 100 as it’s exactly the 100 course damaged up over three days.
On day 1 my coach instructed me to take it straightforward and keep protected. Sadly, this MTB beginner had no thought what tire stress to run and ended up as soon as once more taking one other filth nap with a whopping 35 psi in my tires. Let’s simply say I realized my lesson. After slipping and sliding round on the primary day, giving myself but extra painful highway rash on the opposite elbow, knocking my knee fairly exhausting, and spending the night crying in my lodge room, I confirmed up the subsequent day with a extra cheap bike set-up and with the go-ahead to mild it up.
Day 2 and three ended up being an absolute blast and gave me a superb sense of simply WTAF I must endure by in simply ONE DAY. I realized what everybody was speaking about re: the steep pitches of Columbine and Powerline climbs that may come many hours into this race. I obtained to know that I might race within the combine with two seasoned mountain bikers and fellow LGP racers Kristen Legan and Crystal Anthony. As soon as once more, I got here away with the nonbinary total win, as a result of nicely…I used to be the one one! Critical kudos to the Leadville Path Sequence organizers who nonetheless supplied equal recognition, awards, and prizes to the leaders in all three classes.
This race additionally confirmed me simply how particular Leadville and its neighborhood are. The nice and cozy welcomes, appreciation for all of the members, and beneficiant help the race offers to the youth and folk of Leadville are actually inspiring. It’s straightforward to see how this race has turn into a legend in so some ways. I’m very proud to have the chance to step as much as the beginning line of the Leadville 100 for what might doubtless be probably the most epic races of my life.