I’m going to take a little walk down memory lane, but first, a couple quick observations from my ride to work today:
- Slugs and worms: Can there really be this many of them under the ground all the time? And after two solid days of rain, have they all come up to the surface and onto the road? I’m trying to dodge them — really, I am — but there are so many. And some of those slugs are big (not as big as the banana slugs you’ve got to dodge in Oregon, but still…).
- One day makes a difference: Having taken yesterday off, I felt incredibly good on today’s ride in, so I took the long route. I noticed I was climbing in a higher gear than usual, too. And it wasn’t to prove a point, either. Huzzah!
- I love my road bike: This month marks the 8 Year Anniversary for me and my Ibis Ti Road bike. Let’s have a moment of silence for Ibis, which did some beautiful work in its heyday.
8 Years of the Leadville 100
Every year about this time, I start obsessing about the Leadville Trail 100, a 100-mile mountain bike race in Leadville, CO. I’ve done it eight years straight — this August will be the ninth — and it’s stopped being so much a race as an annual tradition/ritual/vacation/family-and-friends-reunion. As the race gets closer, expect me to talk about this race more and more often. For now, here’s a little context of how I’ve done at this race in the past eight attempts, and what I’ve learned:
- 1997 (Year 1): Finish Time: 10:35. I learned I could complete the race. I also learned that I am very susceptible to cheering crowds, even if I don’t deserve the cheers. I fall in love with the race.
- 1998 (Year 2): Finish Time: 11:27. I learned that finishing with friends is cooler than finishing fast. My friend Dug Anderson waited for me at the last aid station, then convinced me to wait for Bob. Then Dug and Bob both waited for me after I did a massive endo on a fast downhill in the final 15 miles of the race. Finishing together — slow, tired, and bleeding — with Dug and Bob is one of the standout memories of my life.
- 1999 (Year 3): Finish Time: 9:13. I learned that if I train like a madman, lose a lot of weight, and then put everything I’ve got into this race, I can almost break the nine hour mark. But not quite.
- 2000 (Year 4): Finish Time: 9:17. I learned that ignoring threatening clouds may not be such a great idea. Lightning and torrential rain scared and froze those of us on Pole Line pass nearly to death. I had no rain jacket with me, having ignored my wife’s suggestion to carry one at the final aid station.
- 2001 (Year 5): Finish Time: 9:30. I learned…um…I learned…well, whaddaya know. I can’t remember anything at all from the race this year. It looks like I’ve started a slow-down trend, though, doesn’t it?
- 2002 (Year 6): Finish Time: 10:20. I learned the "non-contributing weight" axiom of the Leadville 100: Every non-contributing pound you carry costs you five minutes. I was riding a full suspension bike, had gained some weight, and had not trained like I should. Also, I took a 20 minute nap at the final aid station. Refreshing!
- 2003 (Year 7): Finish Time: 9:20. I learned that one can drink only so much Gatorade. About 3/4 of the way through the race I got nauseous and started barfing anytime I tried to eat or drink anything. I blame the Gatorade, probably without reason. If I hadn’t gotten sick toward the end of the race, this might’ve been the year I got that sub-9 I’ve wanted at Leadville forever.
- 2004 (Year 8): Finish Time: 10:56. I learned that just finishing can be a victory. This was while my life was pretty much completely insane and I had not trained at all. So last year I went to Leadville just to have fun and see my friends. And you know what? It was a great ride/race. I talked with a lot of people who — like me — just wanted to finish. The support and cameraderie at the back of the pack is much stronger than at the front. These racers are the heart of mountain biking.
- 2005 (Year 9): Finish Time: ???. What will I learn this year? I dunno, but I can hardly wait to go back to Leadville, my favorite town in the world to relax, ride my bike, and catch up with like-minded cyclists.
Today’s Weight: 178.8
Next up: Tomorrow, I will reveal how you can win valuable prizes from the Fat Cyclist. No, I am not kidding.