A Note from Fatty: Be sure to check in tomorrow, when I will be launching the contest where you can fight cancer and win the Orbea Orca / Diva with the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 build. This bike is a work of art (click the thumbnail to the right for a larger view of the bike). Very fast, light, responsive, and technically-advanced art. Rideable art that retails for $9600. That your riding friends will be jealous of forever and ever, and rightly so.
So, like I said: Check back tomorrow. And bring your wallet.
Another Note from Fatty: Team Fatty members (all cities), you’ll be able to work toward winning this bike by getting people to donate to your LiveStrong Challenge page. So start bugging your friends and family now and tell them to start donating right now. All donations made to your account starting last Friday count toward your chances of winning this bike.
For each of the past twelve years, I’ve signed up for the Leadville 100. I’ve started all twelve times, and I’ve finished all twelve times (stories here, here, and here, just for example). I’ve been as fast as 9:13, and as slow as 11:40. This race is one of my very favorite annual traditions. If, for instance, I had to give up my birthday and Father’s Day to go to Leadville, it would be a very easy trade. I’d throw in Halloween and Thanksgiving, too. And Arbor day.
But here’s a little surprise I wasn’t planning to reveal until after this year’s race: I’m currently in very good shape. I weigh about 161 pounds and am currently riding with the fast guys in my group. Last Saturday as we rode together, Kenny said I was climbing stronger than I ever have before.
The weight loss has been easy this year: my interest in food is way down. Evidently, I’m only a stress eater up to a certain level of stress. Past that, I start to forget about food.
And the “fast” part has come easily this year, too. My two hours on a bike every day has become more than a fun way to exercise and be with my friends; it’s become a pressure release valve. I’ve been riding angry, to good effect.
My descending skills have improved dramatically over the past season, too. In a race that includes several multiple-mile descents, that could buy me several important minutes.
Add in an extremely light and responsive bike — my Gary Fisher Superfly Singlespeed — and I’ve got myself a recipe for a fast Leadville 100. Certainly not in under nine hours, but quite possibly under 9:30. And on a singlespeed, that’s not half bad.
But I just don’t see how I can go.
I’ve always made a four-day trip out of the Leadville 100. Leave Utah (or Washington for a couple years) on Thursday, hang out in Leadville on Friday, race on Saturday, come home on Sunday.
Theoretically, I could shorten this to an extremely tightly-scheduled (and exhausting) Friday-Saturday trip. But the fact is, the annual Leadville 100 trip stopped being mostly about the race a long time ago — I’d say about 70% of why I like to be there is to catch up with old friends and spend a couple days wandering around the town being a bike bum.
And there is just no possible way I can leave Susan for four days — or even two days — right now. The truth is, last Saturday I had a difficult time leaving her for six hours. Sometimes she needs me — and only me. And sometimes I just need to be with her. True, she spends about 20-22 hours of most days sleeping now, but when she wakes up, she calls for me. And I need to be there.
I guess it says how much I love this race, though, that in spite of the realities of my situation, I still play through the possible scenarios, trying to find the path that lets me go to Leadville without feeling like a total heel.
In my heart I know there’s no such path. But my head’s still looking for it.
And I guess that at least a piece of me thinks I can still go, because when friends ask whether I’m going to Leadville, I say, “I’m at about 10-90 right now.”
But that 10% chance — which is in all honesty more like a 3% chance — is enough for me to keep training like I’m all in.
I know: it’s just a race, and it’s not as important as taking care of Susan and my family right now.
Still: when you’ve done something every single year for a dozen years, missing it for the first time isn’t easy.