I’m back from Leadville now, and tonight I’m going to try to write a report about what I consider to be the best race experience of my entire life.
Really, I enjoyed it that much.
But for right now, I’d like to talk about the first thirty seconds of the race.
The Leadville Trail 100 race organizers have stated, over and over, in no uncertain terms, that the paved downhill at the beginning of the race is a neutral start. It’s a crowded, narrow road, and no passing is allowed. Get your pass on once we’re on the dirt.
And, thanks to my strong finish time in 2007, I got to start in the cordoned-off section at the front. I set myself by Rick McDonald, one of very few people who has started and completed every single one of the Leadville 100s.
The gun went off at 6:30am, and I — along with everyone else — started pedaling. Things were tight, but not scary.
And then this happened:
Ladies and gentlemen, meet racer #845, aka Louis Baker. Louis — feeling the neutral start did not apply to him, but lacking the skill to ignore rules safely – elbowed me as he surged by, then hooked my handlebars and sent me to the pavement.
I went down on my knees, catching my upper body with my right hand. Luckily for me, my right shoulder did not dislocate.
My bottles scattered on the road, and other cyclists dodged me, my bike, and my bottles.
Note: As most of you know, I’m ordinarily not an angry person. In fact, I’m one of the least-angry people you’ll ever meet. But the rest of this post is going to be kinda angry. Why? Oh, I dunno. Maybe because some bonehead had, within the first half-minute of the race, gone and done exactly what the race organizers had spent the last ten minutes telling us over and over not to do. And he had, with this move, very nearly ended my 12-year Leadville streak, and the only race I’m doing this year, what with my wife being sick at home and all. Anyway, if you don’t like the thought of an Angry Fatty, you’ve probably already read too much of this post and you may want to just come back tomorrow, when I promise I’ll be incredibly upbeat.
I gathered everything up, angrier than I can ever remember being, but not knowing who had done this (and I never would have if this picture hadn’t been taken). I wasn’t hurt, and my bike was fine.
Louis continued on, unconcerned, unapologetic. In, what I’d like to note, is an atrocity of cycling garb.
You may be saying to yourself, “But maybe Fatty was drifting back. Maybe this Louis fella in the super dorky knickers wasn’t surging forward at all.” Except in the center of the picture you’ll see Rick McDonald, the guy I started with (Rick finished with an 8:26, a very fast time). He and I were playing by the rules.
As for Louis, well, let’s take a look at how much that extra 1.000008 seconds he bought by making that illegal pass helped him.
Just a second…still checking the standings. I’m looking very carefully through all the sub-9-hour finishing times, where clearly Louis belonged.
Hm. Not there. Odd.
OK, let’s take a look at the sub-10-hour finishes.
How peculiar. He’s not there, either.
Oh, there Louis is. He finished in 10:38.
Which is, I feel compelled to note, after I finished.
More to the point, It’s more than half an hour after I finished.
Louis, some advice: next time you race, you may want to go start further back in the field.
And stay there.