Silver Rush 50 Race Report, Part 0.2: All Wet

07.12.2018 | 10:38 am

For more than twenty years, I’ve come to Leadville each summer. But this is the first time I’ve ever gone mostly as a vacation — as opposed to going to race the Leadville 100.

Oh sure, I was still in Leadville to race (the Leadville Silver Rush 50), but it wasn’t a race I was stressed about. It was more of an “as long as we’re in town” kind of race.

The Copper Triangle, Leadvillified

Not coincidentally, this was also the first time The Hammer and I had brought our road bikes with us. I thought it might be fun to ride them around town or something.

The Hammer had other plans. Specifically, she planned to have us ride the famous Copper Triangle route, although we’d be doing it ourselves instead as part of an event, and we’d be starting and ending at the Leadville point in the triangle.

And also, if you ask me, it doesn’t even look like a triangle anyway.

It looks more like the mirror image of California. Which, granted, would be a less-awesome name for the route.

Anyway, on day 2 of our Leadville vacation, The Hammer and I rode this triangle, once I had moved my mountain bike pedals onto my road bike (I forgot to bring my road shoes on this trip, because I am feeble-minded).

It was a gorgeous ride. Perfect weather, perfect temperatures, not much traffic, a good solid workout (we were totally ignoring the notion of tapering for races since we didn’t really care how we did at this race).

And a great opportunity for high mountain selfies:

All told, this is about an eighty-mile ride, with about 6000 feet of climbing. The website for the Copper Triangle calls this “three challenging climbs that exemplify cycling in the Colorado Rockies.” In Utah, we call it a “cute little ride.”

Sincerely, though, it was a beautiful, fun, relaxing and just nice day on the bike. Except for the final two miles, when we suddenly got hit by torrential rain and nickel-sized balls of hail. And even that was just amusement-level drenching (though it wouldn’t have been if we’d had to endure it for half the day instead of for ten minutes).

Fish Story

On day 3, The Hammer and I took Blake (aka The IT Guy) on a ride up St. Kevens. He’s recently had a foot injury, so the fact that he was able to ride to the top of the St. Kevens climb was a big deal. We’re hoping he continues to heal fast so he can still do the LT100 in a month. (Yikes! A month!)

Then we took the twins on one of our favorite hikes: a nature trail starting and ending at the Leadville Fish Hatchery.

It’s fun the way some things — like this hike — start becoming traditions. And then, after the hike, the tradition continues because we always buy some fish food and toss it to the trout being raised in the Fish Hatchery troughs (pretty sure that’s the wrong word so hope you’ll take the time to google it for me and give me the correct term in the comments).

While we were doing this, The Hammer had an idea. “Why don’t you stick your finger into the water?” she said. “See if the fish think it’s food.”

I confess: I found the idea both repulsive (fish are gross) and intriguing. Would fish that are used to food landing in the water constantly think a finger is food, or would they scatter? (I strongly sided on the “scatter” possibility.) And if they did try to bite my finger, would having a tiny (about 5-6″) trout bite my finger hurt even a little bit? (I figured not.)

So I knelt down and tentatively poked the tip of my right index finger into the water.

The fish rushed my finger and at least one nibbled at it.

It did not hurt even a little bit.

It did, however, make me reflexively jerk my hand back out of the water.

Which was too bad for The Hammer because she was close by at my right, filming the whole thing with her phone.

You know what’s coming, right?

As I jerked back, I knocked the phone out of The Hammer’s hand…and into the water. Which is about five feet deep, and full of fish.

Rescue Attempt

It took a few seconds for everything to sink in, at least for me. And then we had things to consider: was it worth even going after the phone? It wasn’t just wet; it was submerged, five feet deep, and was going to be that way for a while.

“Well, the iPhone 8 is supposed to be water resistant,” I said.

So I went in search of someone who works at the Fish Hatchery to help us get the thing out. Dead or alive.

I couldn’t find anyone.

Meanwhile, The Hammer found a toolshed on the premises and got out a flat-headed shovel, which she used to get the phone up against the edge of the square-edged concrete trough, but couldn’t get the phone up the wall.

I then went back to the shed, where I found…a hoe.

A hoe! In my mind’s eye, I realized it may well be the most perfect retrieve-a-phone-from-the-floor-of-a-flat-five-foot-trough tool ever. I brought it over, and between The Hammer operating the flat-head shovel to position the phone at the wall and tip it over on to the hoe, and then me lifting it up, we felt pretty darned smart. Especially when we didn’t think about the fact that it was pretty silly that the phone was at the bottom of a trough like that in the first place.

To our amazement, the phone — having been underwater for about fifteen minutes — was still on. (I’m not sure why it hadn’t locked while underwater for that long, but it hadn’t.)

And furthermore, it had taken a couple of pictures sometime during its underwater adventure (maybe when The Hammer was prodding the phone with the shovel?), including this one:

That’s just an awesome shot, even moreso since the phone continues to be just fine.

And in short, the iPhone 8: highly recommended for people who take photos near water and clumsy husbands.

Next up: the actual race.

 

Silver Rush 50 Race Report, Part 0.1: Pre-riding the Course

07.11.2018 | 9:31 am

I need to spend less time racing and more time vacationing. I just do.

“Why?” you ask, belligerently (because at least in my mind, the fact that you would challenge any opinion I ever have clearly makes you belligerent).

“Because,” I explain, patiently (in my mind, I am patient and respectful even though you don’t deserve such niceties), “it turns out it’s a lot of fun to ride for fun and hike for fun and hang out and have fun.”

“To my surprise,” I conclude, ironically, because as you know I am not actually even a little bit surprised, “racing is not the only way to have fun riding a bike!”

In my mind, your mouth is now agape, and I’m just a little bit upset because I am not certain whether your astonishment is real or feigned.

Maybe you shouldn’t be so sarcastic (in my mind), you know?

Wherein Melisa Says She Doesn’t Want to Ride With Us, But Then Takes Pity On Us And Rides With Us After All

The Hammer, The Twins, and I arrived in Leadville, where we had it on good authority that Melisa (aka The Monster aka The Swimmer) was going to show The Hammer and me the first half of the Silver Rush course. Melisa had changed her mind by the time we got there, though, electing instead to pointedly ignore us and stare at her phone instead.

So I found the course on Strava. Except not the correct course. I found the old course. And then I somehow managed to put it on my GPS. And sort of figure out where the race starts. It had been, sadly, at least nine months since I had tried doing something like this, so I had to completely relearn how this is done.

And by the time I had it figured out (maybe, sort of), Melisa had re-chosen to ride with us, which is good because it was really nice to ride with her, and also we’d probably be lost and starving or dead if we’d had to rely on me and a GPS for course directions.

Actually Riding, But First Something Really Stupid

You know what’s ridiculous? The way the Silver Rush 50 starts. It has you push or carry your bike up a steep hill strewn with loose rocks.

Of course, being rule keeper types and also because we wanted to see what this would actually be like, we did this in our pre-ride.

To our delight, it was every bit as much fun as you’d be thinking it would be to carry your bike up a steep hill an hour after you’ve arrived at a city that has a low point of 10K feet.

And in short, I was somewhat winded before I even got on the bike.

How winded? So winded that it didn’t even occur to me to look over at my wife and say, “Honey, that bike is riding you.” Which is an opportunity for hilarity lost (but now recaptured, which is pretty much the whole reason I write this blog).

Then we rode our bikes on a little singletrack section RIGHT BACK TO WHERE WE STARTED. At which point I was pretty upset at Melisa until she explained that this was the way the course actually worked. After which I was still pretty upset — possibly eve more so, since I no longer had anyone toward whom I could direct my pique.

Directionless pique sucks.

And then we rode. Basically uphill for about ten miles. And you know what? It was fantastic. I mean, it’s nice doubletrack. And it was a cool, clear day. And I didn’t feel at all smoked, in spite of the fact that I was approaching 11K feet.

And there were wildflowers and water crossings and beautiful vistas and old mining sites. And basically, the high mountains of Colorado are wonderful.

Another rider — let’s call him Mark, since his name is in fact Mark — doing the race later that week caught up to us and asked if he could join us for the ride.

Well of course he could.

And as it turns out, Mark was just a great guy. The kind of guy you’d want to hang out with and ride with. While he had (obviously) caught us, he wasn’t pushing us to go faster, and he was happy to let us plan out what we’d do next after Melisa left.

Oh I forgot to mention: partway through the ride, Melisa had had enough and left. She had a very good reason which was actually part of the original ride plan though, so my pique level didn’t go up. (The single most certain way to get me piqued is to upend my understanding of what the day’s ride will be.)

Assessment

By the time we got to the turnaround point of the race — about 25 miles in this out-and-back course — I was cooked. But I was also excited and impressed. The fact is, The Silver Rush course is interesting and intriguing and pretty historic, with trailside photo opps like this:

Basically, I’d had fun. And so had The Hammer. Which is good, because later that afternoon when we played Baldur’s Gate, she wouldn’t be quite as excited:

That is quite a yawn. Which may not be the most exciting cliffhanger I’ve ever ended with, but it’s still where we’re going to stop for now. In the next installment, I promise there will be hail the size of nickels as we ride, and I may even get us to the starting line of the actual race.

Though I also may not, because that race was a pretty humiliating experience for me.

Your Crew and You

07.10.2018 | 11:29 am

A Note from Fatty: I just got back from a riding vacation, along with a race, in Leadville. I have many stories to tell, including how The Hammer and I collaborated to use her phone to get this photo of many fish:

Today, though, I want you to listen to the most recent episode of the Leadville Podcast, where I talk about the Silver Rush 50, how to crew, and many other things.

Download on Apple Podcasts Stitcher

Honestly, it’s a fantastic show, and I am having a ball creating it along with Michael Hotten.

Your Crew and You

There’s a good chance that you’ve got friends and/or family coming along with you to Leadville, in which case there’s nearly a 100% chance they’re going to be crewing for you on race day.

Which means that they’ve got as big a day coming up as you do…but concentrated into short little moments of crazed intensity when you roll in, breathing hard and amped up and unable to articulate a darned thing.

This is the first of two episodes where Hottie and Fatty focus on crewing strategies for Leadville. You — and your crew — will not want to miss them. The Queen of Pain weighs in as well on this topic, driving home the “free minutes” a racer and crew can collect in this race with a well-executed race strategy.

Also on this (very packed!) episode, Fatty and Hottie talk about the Silver Rush 50 (since Fatty raced it about two hours before they recorded) — is it a good tune-up for the Leadville 100?

In this installment of The Course, Fatty and Hottie detail the trail from the top of Columbine to the Pipeline Aid Station.

And of course Jonathan Lee of TrainerRoad provides his weekly training tips. 

It’s a loaded show full of information you (and your crew) can use. Enjoy!

Support My Sponsors

We went out of our way, for this podcast, to reach out exclusively to companies we actually love and buy stuff from ourselves. Which is to say, you won’t find ads here for life insurance companies or mattresses or cooking kits that come to you in a box. These are all companies I buy stuff from and use pretty much every damn ride. Please support them.

Shimano

XT Di2 is just perfect. I have it on both my hardtail (a Felt Doctrine) and my full-suspension mountain bike (a Specialized Epic S-Works). Shimano makes the best drivetrain and braking components there are, and XT is bombproof and affordable.

The Feed

Hottie and I have been using Maurten drink mix, and both of us are totally sold on it. No stomach issues, goes down easy, super easy to mix. I am a fan. And our podcast listeners can get a great price on a training and racing packs custom curated for Leadville racers. Go to TheFeed.com/leadville for the race pack, and there’s a link on that page to go to the training pack. And be sure to use the code LEADVILLE15 for a 15% discount on either of those boxes. You can use the LEADVILLE15 code at checkout for any Maurten drink mix purchase.

Banjo Brothers

At Leadville, and at any race, you will see riders with all sorts of crazy ways to carry their bike repair essentials. People tape or velcro stuff to top tubes, stems, seatposts and seat tubes. We say do yourself a favor, use our sponsor, Banjo Brothers, to get your flat fixing goodies strapped properly  to your bike.

And not just your race bike, but your commuting bike and your bikepacking bike…and they’ve even got great backpacks and messenger bags for when you’ve got to carry bigger stuff.

I’ve got a Banjo Brothers Bag  on every bike I have, and have been for a dozen years. They’re simple and they’re bombproof. They just work.

To get 15% off your order, go to Banjobrothers.com/fatty-favorites.

ENVE

I have ENVE wheels on my single speed setup. I have ENVE wheels on my hardtail setup. I have ENVE wheels on my full suspension setup. They are the very best wheels you can buy. They’re very expensive, but they last forever (or if they don’t, ENVE takes care of you pronto — they’re the Nordstrom of the bike wheel world). Spend the money on a great set of wheels and watch them outlast the rest of your bike by a factor of two. F’reals.

The Climb to Columbine Mine

07.2.2018 | 8:09 am

It’s a new episode of the Leadville Podcast — a day early, because I figure everyone’s heading out for vacation by tomorrow (I know I am). We set you straight on the most asked about part of Leadville bike setup: the rolling parts. We brought in a couple of our friends from ENVE, both of them Leadville veterans — each with finish times of around 7:30 — to geek out about rims, tires, sealant and air pressure.

Download on Apple Podcasts Stitcher

If you’ve ever wondered about what the perfect setup is for your endurance bike, this is the episode for you.

In this episode, we’ll also be talking about the part of the course everyone obsesses about — one of the true defining moments of the Leadville 100: the climb to Columbine Mine. We talk about how to come back from setbacks during training, whether it’s an injury or illness. Enjoy this seriously-packed show!

Support My Sponsors
We went out of our way, for this podcast, to reach out exclusively to companies we actually love and buy stuff from ourselves. Which is to say, you won’t find ads here for life insurance companies or mattresses or cooking kits that come to you in a box. These are all companies I buy stuff from and use pretty much every damn ride.

Please support them, because you should. And also so they will love me and want to keep supporting me. It’s the circle of advertising, folks.

Shimano

I don’t even know what to say about Shimano that I haven’t yet said. XT Di2 is just perfect. I have it on both my hardtail (a Felt Doctrine) and my full-suspension mountain bike (a Specialized Epic S-Works). The Hammer has it on her Epic, too, and it’s her favorite bike ever. The way it shifts. The way it brakes. Shimano makes the best drivetrain and braking components there are, and XT is bombproof and affordable. Get it already and find out how much better your bike will be.

The Feed

Hottie and I have been using Maurten drink mix, and both of us are totally sold on it. No stomach issues, goes down easy, super easy to mix. Hottie’s super anal about stuff like this, so he loved the package precision; they tell you exactly how much water to use, no guessing with scoops and different sized bottles.

My overarching impression is that it’s a ridiculously non-intrusive way to get down a lot of calories. One bottle, 320 calories — it’s a little sweet, it’s a little thick, but there’s no aftertaste and I felt great — my stomach was fine, I didn’t feel that weird energy spike you get with some energy drinks. It tastes smooth, and it burns smooth. I am a fan.

And our podcast listeners can get a great price on a training and racing packs custom curated for Leadville racers. Go to TheFeed.com/leadville for the race pack, and there’s a link on that page to go to the training pack. And be sure to use the code LEADVILLE15 for a 15% discount on either of those boxes.

And starting with this episode (now, basically), you can use the LEADVILLE15 code at checkout for any Maurten drink mix purchase.

Banjo Brothers

At Leadville, and at any race, you will see riders with all sorts of crazy ways to carry their bike repair essentials. People tape or velcro stuff to top tubes, stems, seatposts and seat tubes. We say do yourself a favor, use our sponsor, Banjo Brothers, to get your flat fixing goodies strapped properly  to your bike.

And not just your race bike, but your commuting bike and your bikepacking bike…and they’ve even got great backpacks and messenger bags for when you’ve got to carry bigger stuff.

I’ve got a Banjo Brothers Bag  on every bike I have, and have been for a dozen years. They’re simple and they’re bombproof. They just work.

To get 15% off your order, go to Banjobrothers.com/fatty-favorites.

ENVE

I have ENVE wheels on my single speed setup. I have ENVE wheels on my hardtail setup. I have ENVE wheels on my full suspension setup. They are the very best wheels you can buy. They’re very expensive, but they last forever (or if they don’t, ENVE takes care of you pronto — they’re the Nordstrom of the bike wheel world). Spend the money on a great set of wheels and watch them outlast the rest of your bike by a factor of two. F’reals.

New Podcast Episode: The Hammer Tells Her Tale

06.28.2018 | 10:24 pm

Here at the Leadville Podcast, we have fun preparing for and gaming out and gearing up for this race. But what we LOVE are the stories that come out of this race.

And it’s high time we posted a woman’s race report. More to the point, this is The Hammer’s telling of her first Leadville 100, in her own words (and voice!). 

Download on Apple Podcasts Stitcher

It is a case study in strength, flat tires, courage, hypothermia, tenacity, driving rain, and a world-class bonk. 

The Hammer now says this day permanently changed her life and her perception of who she is and what she can do. Seventeen years later, it still makes her emotional. We think it might make you emotional too. Fair warning.

Give this a listen some day when you just don’t feel like going out on a ride. This tale of toughness might give you the inspiration you need to get out there and get it done.

(And here’s the story as she wrote it back in 2011, just in case you want to read along)

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