Tomorrow I’m headed to Leadville. It’s a simple sentence, but one that makes me go a little bit light-headed.
Because the Leadville Trail 100 — the race and the days leading up to the race — is my favorite weekend of the year.
Consider how many friends of mine will be there: Kenny, Brad, Bob, Gary, Rick Sunderlage (not his real name), Racer, Bry, Mark, Serena, Lisa, Rich, Jilene, Mike, Dean, Dave, Sam, Nick, and Bill.
And there’s the race directors: Ken and Merilee. After all the help they gave Susan and me last year, they’re friends. The staff of the Delaware Inn are friends of mine. And there are more. Lots more.
Seriously, the Leadville 100 is like a big family reunion for me. Except I know more people at Leadville than I do at family reunions, and I don’t have to try to understand when someone explains that they’re my grandfather’s brother’s half-niece.
At Leadville, on the other hand, the relationships are simple. We’re all friends and riders.
Anyway, every year I like to obsess a little bit about how I’m going to race this high-altitude (12,600 feet at its highest point) 100-mile mountain bike race, and this year is no different.
Well, actually, it’s quite a bit different. For example, I haven’t trained.
But I still like to obsess about it.
So here’s my plan.
What I’m Riding
With my separated shoulder, I have no business trying to — for the first time — ride the Leadville 100 on a single speed.
But I’m going to anyway.
My reasoning is simple: I want to. Also, because I love my WaltWorks bike. It’s a beautiful, lively, simple, and comfortable steel mountain bike.
Shimano XTR cranks (175mm, cuz my toes keep rubbing the front tire when I use 180mm cranks), Magura Marta brakes, Selle SLR saddle, big fat Geax Saguaro tires set to 20psi, and a pink Chris King headset to remind me of who’s tough.
As a concession to my shoulder, I have replaced the carbon fork with a Rockshox Reba suspension fork, set to 60mm of travel.
And a special mention goes out to the On-One Mary bar, which has been a life-changing component. It is incredible: my hands no longer go to sleep, even on long rides. I’m putting this bar on every mountain bike I ever own, for the rest of my life. Respect to Brant and crew.
Feel free to take a moment to leave a mention in the comment section how sexy my bike is.
My Objectives: Plan A, B, and C
Each year, I bring a time goal for the race — an objective I can achieve, provided I really give it everything I’ve got.
This year, though, my primary objective isn’t to finish fast. My primary objective is to finish at all. My secondary objective is to finish fun. Here are the possible fun finish scenarios:
- Scenario A: If it looks like I can finish under 11 hours, I will do what I can to do so. Which is to say, I’m prepared to put my head down and suffer if I make it to the turnaround spot in 5:20. Finishing under 11 hours on a single speed would be worth the agony.
- Scenario B: If it looks like I’ll be finishing in right around 11 hours, I’m going to do everything humanly possible to finish in 11:11.11. I will have a stopwatch with me, so it’s actually possible to do this.
- Scenario C: If it looks like I can’t finish in 11:11.11, I’m going to make an effort to be the final person to cross the finish line in under 12 hours. 11:59.30 sounds good to me. I’ll leave 30 seconds on the table. You know, as a buffer.
What I Will Eat
On the trail, I will eat Jelly Belly Extreme Sport Beans, caffeinated watermelon flavor, since the Jelly Belly folks were so kind as to send me a box of them. And because they are super-delicious.
It just occurred to me, by the way, that someone should find a way to add caffeine to real watermelon. I would pay extra for caffeinated watermelon.
I will drink CarboRocket, because it’s the only sports drink in the world that I can consume for 11 hours straight without getting barfy. Brad’s a genius.
And when I finish, I will hustle over to the ice cream store around the corner and buy a big dish of ice cream. Nothing in the world is as delicious, post-race, as ice cream.
After the race, I’m going to go take a shower. And then I think I’ll eat some more ice cream. And then a burrito. And then a cube of cheese. And then a hamburger. And then I shall take a nap. And then I will eat again.
See why I love this race?
PS: Free Shipping on Mary Bars! The On-One folks noticed my love of the Mary bar and are celebrating with worldwide free shipping of this bar for a limited time. Pretty darned cool, if you ask me. More details here.