A Note from Fatty: If you want to tweet or Facebook or otherwise link to this page so friends of yours can join the conversation today (3:00pm ET / 2:00pm CT / 1:00pm MT / 12:00pm PT), a nice short URL you can use is: http://fatcy.cl/LT100chat.
Today at 3:00pm ET / 2:00pm CT / 1:00pm MT / 12:00pm PT we’re gonna have a nice little chat, right here on this site (and in fact, on this very page). Kind of in the same vein as the one we did with Johan Bruyneel, or the one we did with Twin Six.
The Rules of Engagement
The people in this panel are my guests and friends. They’re doing this on their own time, and I’m not paying them a cent to do it. Because I’m a cheap bastard, that’s why.
So here are a few rules to keep in mind:
- The “Living Room Rule” is in full effect. You and the panelists are both literally my guests here. In the same way I would not tolerate one guest being rude to another at my house, I will not tolerate one guest being rude to another here. And since this is my virtual house, I get to decide what “rude” means. And just like in real life, if I find you rude I’ll either ignore you or send you away. But it’s not going to come to that, right?
- Question moderation is on. When you enter your question, it appears in a box that I can see. Until I “promote” your question or comment, nobody else will see it. It’s possible that one of the panelists or I will answer you privately.
- If we don’t answer your question, don’t feel bad. There are going to be a lot of people asking a lot of questions, all at once. We can’t possibly answer all of them. That doesn’t mean we don’t like you. In fact, please start from the premise that whether or not we answer you, we still love you. A lot.
- Be nice. Every single one of the people on this panel is a great guy who just happens to also be a strong endurance cyclist. Treat them well. And treat other people well, too. Because nice people are better than mean people. It’s a scientific fact.
What This Live Panel is About
This Q&A session, really, is for me, and for people like me. Specifically, it’s going to be a walk down memory lane. A BS session. A hobnobbing about a race with a few guys who have — like me — done the Leadville Trail 100 race a bunch of times.
We’ve all got stories to tell, and — if you happen to be planning for the LT100 or another MTB endurance race — this may not be a bad time for you to ask a question or two.
Specifically, I’ve asked the following guys to join the panel, :
- Dave Wiens: Six-time winner of the Leadville 100, and with the possible exception of me, the nicest guy in the entire world.
- Ricky McDonald: One of very few people who has raced — and completed — every edition of the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. Ricky rides a piece-of-junk bike with the same old tires every single year, and regularly cleans my clock at the race. With the possible exception of Dave and me, Ricky is the nicest guy in the world.
- Dean Cahow: Dean and I are a lot alike: we’ve each tried to do a sub-9 finish many, many times. Neither of us have ever succeeded. But we keep trying anyway. Dean is every bit as nice as the rest of us.
- Cole Chlouber: The son of the race’s founder, Ken Chlouber, Cole now works for Life Time Fitness, which owns and promotes this event. Cole and I have ridden side-by-side on singlespeeds doing the LT100 together, but last year Cole busted out an 8:20, so I find myself envying him. Even though he’s (arguably) just as nice a guy as Dave Wiens.
I’m very, very excited for the group of people who will be joining me on the panel. I asked them each to send a bio of themselves and a photo. Take a few minutes to get to know them, in their own words:
Dave Wiens has been well known in the world of professional mountain bike racing since the late 1980’s. Paralleling this competitive career has been continual involvement in trails and trail advocacy, in both professional and volunteer capacities. Wiens is the founder and director of the non-profit advocacy organization, Gunnison Trails. He first raced the Leadville Trail 100 in 2003 and 2011 will be the first year since that he will not be lining up at 6th and Harrison on the second Saturday in August.
A second-generation mountain biking pioneer, Wiens raced professionally for nearly 20 years, visiting numerous countries on four continents. Retiring from the pro circuit in 2004, he continued racing occasionally for fun and for the challenge and the Leadville Trail 100 was on his calendar every August.
Late in 2006, the Leadville Trail 100 would be changed forever when Lance Armstrong said in an interview that he would be competing in the race in 2007. While Armstrong wouldn’t race that year, his interest had pulled in controversial cyclist, Floyd Landis, and the competition at the front of the race was ramped up significantly. The long-standing course record went down that year and the profile of the race was raised as the Associated Press, as well as the cycling press, covered the race as part of Landis’ sojourn countering doping allegations stemming from the 2006 Tour de France.
Armstrong made it to the start line in 2008, and Wiens won his sixth consecutive Leadville 100 title in a duel with the seven-time Tour de France Champion. Armstrong would come back in 2009 and crush the course record set the year before and firmly establish the Leadville Trail 100 as one of the premier mass-participation cycling events on the planet. The legacy of top riders contesting the LT 100 continued in 2010 with a race that featured numerous stars of professional racing including Levi Leipheimer, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Ned Overend.
Prior to the Leadville years, Wiens’ other career highlights include two World Cup wins, two US National Championship titles and numerous victories on the professional mountain bike racing circuit. Wiens also competed briefly in the sport of adventure racing, winning the World Championships in 2006. He also likes to ski and play hockey and is still searching for his post bike-racing career.
A Colorado native, Wiens has called Gunnison home for more than twenty years. He lives there with his wife, Susan DeMattei, also a former professional mountain biker and 1996 Olympic bronze medalist, and their three sons, Cooper, Ben and Sam.
For me, the LT100 is not so much a race as a way of life. My great grandfather was 16 years old when he emigrated from Yugoslavia to Leadville in the 1800’s, he raised 10 kids in a little home down on west 2nd street. Our family still owns a place just a few houses up the street from there. So, i guess i’ve had that Leadville pioneer blood racing through my veins since before i was born.
Before the first LT100, nobody had raced 100 miles on a mountain bike before, the furthest i had raced was 40 miles, but since this was Leadville, I had to try it. I went to the USGS and got enough quad maps to cover the entire course and set off with Merilee’s course discription to find the route. i showed up back in town after dark, 8 hours later, having covered 70 miles of what I had hoped was the race course. As i rolled up to the homestead, my grandmother was standing in the street peering through the darkness towards Mount Massive in one last attempt to locate me before she called search and rescue.
In 1994, there were no guided tours, no training camps, no GPS, no cell phones, nobody to ask advice from, especially that all-important question “what tires do i use?”
That first year, we all had to figure everything out for ourselves. It was quite an adventure!
Fast forward 18 years. 17 starts, 18 buckles, a third of those ‘la plata grande,’ my best finishes were 5th and 7th overall. I work two jobs in the summer now, have a family, a house and a fleet of old cars that constantly need fixing. I begin my training in June, and am lucky to get in a ride once a week.
Leadville is really the only race I do any more. For me, it’s not the race so much as the memories, some of them very personal memories that a very few of my fellow racers have shared a part in, it’s the people I’ve met and raced with over the years, the race for me now is secondary to the yearly gathering of old friends.
Overwhelming LT100 obsession set in with me as I registered for my inaugural, the 1996 edition. I’d overheard two strangers in 1995 talking abouta way-over-the-top race they’d done that summer. “What the hell are you guys talking about?” yours truly 2nd year neophyte XC racer marveled.
Since then, not one mountain bike ride has rolled beneath me lacking a thought or several about LT100s past or future. That’s no exaggeration, and I ride a lot.
Thru 2010 I’ve pedaled out within the mass hysteria of each new edition; 16 shotgun starts for me. I’m not nearly spectacular in the record of this event; 15 finishes, no sub-9s (9:07 is best I’ve mustered; twice, plus four others under 9:30).
The Leadville experience; the town, the big beautiful hardass landscape, the race’s movers and shakers, the race’s racers (among them my enlightened co-panelists), the on-course training rides, years of Leadville fever, all have been an amazingly fortuitous event. Not 16 events, one event – earnestly and honestly that’s what its been to me, one big fantastic hoorah.
I ride lots of races, shorter and longer than Leadville, some of them multiple times, some of them are absolutely fantastic. Leadville is where my mtb spirit goes so to electrify.
First participating in 1996, I now have five finishes and three have been on a single speed. My finishes range from a 12:06 to an 8:20 and only hold one sub 9.
I have also played a hosting roll with the event for 12 years between my racing. The Leadville Trail 100 is a part of who I am, it will never leave my blood.
My father is the founder of the Leadville Trail 100 and my hero. Not a moment goes by that I am not left thinking about him, the race or the wisdom others have shared with their Leadville experiences. Leadville, for me, has been life’s instruction manual.
I have attacked every challenge in life the way I do the race, by believing “I am better than I think I am and I can do more than I think I can”, by “Diggin’ Deep”, and by refusing to not try.
My co-panelists have achieved far more, so humbly, I am here to offer advice and tell you to take theirs. Dave, Dean, Ricky and Elden have all played a large roll with who I am today, thank you.
PS: Be sure to come to this page today at 3:00PM ET for the live Q&A. See you then!