A Note from Fatty: A lot of you asked for the LT100 race perspective from The Hammer and The IT Guy (The Hammer’s son who broke his collarbone one week before Leadville last year). Using my most impressive superpower — asking people to do things — I have gotten stories from both of them.
Today will be The IT Guy’s Story; tomorrow’s will be The Hammer’s.
It’s a lot of story. So pace yourself. Take your time. Don’t let your glycogen stores get depleted, and drink whenever you get thirsty.
Me Scott, Zac and Erin drove down to Leadville on Wednesday 8-8-2012. We drove down to Grand Junction and stayed the night there.
The next morning we left Grand Junction and headed out to Leadville. I forgot to get gas until I had already got on the freeway, so I took the next exit, worried there wouldn’t be anywhere to stop in the canyon. We followed the signs saying gas station for 20 minutes down some little 20 MPH roads. I thought we were being lured into some alley that we would be murdered in. We eventually found a gas station and fueled up. We got back on the highway after that.
We stopped at The Hanging Lake to hike. I was the only fit person there so I flew up the trail and had to keep waiting for everyone else.
We eventually got to the top and my knee started hurting. I was worried down the whole descent that I hurt my knee and would ruin my ride that weekend.
We got back on the road and headed for Leadville.
We got to Leadville and met mom for our room keys.
Mom and Elden left for an Elden interview so Me, Scott, Zac and Erin went to get me registered for the race. After I got my shirt and bag, we went down to the pizza place for dinner. We met Jilene, John, Kenny and Heather at the pizza place along with my mother and Elden. We ate some great pizza there.
I don’t remember anything eventful, but I am sure I went to sleep that night.
The next morning Me, Mom, Elden, Kenny and Heather rode out to Turquoise lake to ride the single track. We had a fun little ride. During the ride, I told Heather that she looked hilarious as she rode down the road in her super low single speed gear. She was spinning at about 6,500 rpm.
After the ride we showered and headed down to the race meeting. This year is the first time they have moved this meeting to a larger room, but it was still packed. The meeting was at the high school instead of the gym this year. We saved a spot near us for Jilene and John, but they ended up bringing Bry and Garrette as well. We all crammed into this bench (and pushed the people next to us off the other side).
The race meeting was extra-long this year, but eventually we heard Ken get up and give his “You are better than you think you are” speech.
The morning of the race, I woke up at about 5:30. I had a good night and was ready to ride. I walked around until about 6:00 eating a bagel. Around 6:00 I saw Elden. He was flabbergasted by the fact that I still hadn’t gone out to look at my bike or get in line. I told him that I heard they wouldn’t let you leave your bike, and I didn’t want to go stand in the cold for an hour. At about 6:10 I went to and got my bike ready [Editor's note: actually, I had already got his bike ready, or I'm pretty sure he would've missed the start].
I knew I would be in the back of the pack, so I didn’t care about being early. I kind of weaseled my way into the middle of my section.
The night before the race, I told Zac that I wanted to give him my jacket before the ride. As I was waiting in the line to start, Zac kept asking me about my jacket. I told him that it was cold and I would keep it. Zac kept telling me that I would regret it, but it was cold that morning so I held on to the jacket.
About 30 seconds before the gun went off, the adrenaline kicked in so I gave Zac my jacket. I am really happy that I did.
The gun went off and we just sat there. It took 1 minute and 45 seconds before I crossed the start line. That is a long time when you are excitedly waiting.
The Race Begins
The first descent was cold and slow. There were people that kept flying by, but I was told that everything would work out, so I should just stay in the pack. (I regretted that later on, but maybe it did help out.)
When we left the pavement for the first time, the road goes from about 8 riders across to 4 riders across so there was a total traffic jam that had stopped everyone. I rode of the road to the right around a big puddle and passed the large part of the traffic jam.
The climb of St Kevin’s was a lot of fun. Everyone was excited and ready for a day of riding. It took a little while to settle in to the flow.
There were so many people that you had to make yourself slow down and wait for the crowd. I think that it felt a lot like driving, there were 3 lanes, and it didn’t matter which one you were in, the other lanes were going faster.
Eventually we got to the first section of descent. There was one guy ahead of me on the descent. We had been going down for about 30 seconds and the guy in front of me wrecked. I don’t know why, because I don’t see anything, but he is in the middle of the trail. I stop and he says he is fine, but by then, the hundreds of people behind us are catching up. There are a lot of people shouting and slamming on the brakes, so after I hear the guys say he is fine, I rode around him and keep going.
There is a little more climb before we get to the top of the hill and the aid station. At this point, I am still enjoying the ride and am happy.
I passed the aid station and get on the pavement. I start looking at the other riders. This year the riders were separated into eight groups with different colors on their numbers, showing how fast they have finished the race before. I kept seeing numbers that were way fast and wondering why they are near me. I don’t know if I am doing well, or if they are doing badly.
Getting Into a Riding Groove
During the paved section, the riders pick up the pace a little. I keep wondering about the fast colors. I keep wondering if I should be passing these people. Maybe they know that there is 12 hours left in this ride and not to kill themselves yet. Whatever their reason is, I set myself in a groove and keep riding.
When we get to the Sugarloaf climb I am still extremely happy because I am still passing people. There is a lot of great nature around me to watch and help pass the time. There is a lot of really cool stuff in those mountains.
As I round the top of Sugar Loaf, I prepare myself for the worst. I have heard for 10 years that the Powerline descent is the most technical and awful mountain biking descent imaginable. They say it has one line and if you deviate even an inch, you will be suck into a rut and die. That is what I have learned to expect from this descent.
With all this worry and doubt in my mind, I start going down. The descent I come to learn is not very bad at all, in fact, I would say that it is fun.
At this time, I am still surrounded by people. This helps keep us moving at a quick pace, but also keeps us from going too fast and losing control. The road is a good double track where 99% of the riders stay in a nice single file line, and the other 1% bomb down the other side. There are a few climbs, but not many (you notice every one though because it brings the entire crowd to a standstill).
Coming down the descent, I see one person crashed out. When it happened, the next two guys on the trail stopped and helped the crashed rider out of the way. Other than that, everything else on the descent went great.
When I got to the bottom of the descent I know that it will roll for a little while, and then I will need to find a group that I can stay with on the flat sections. When I settle in, I reach down for my food and find out that it is gone. Sometime during the Powerline descent, my food bounced out.
I start to worry about not having any food. Every single person that has given me advice for this race has said. “Keep eating. Don’t ever let 30 minutes go by without eating”. The words ring trough my head. I know that I am only 10 miles away from the next aid station, but still I worry.
I find a group of riders on the flat that I try to stick with, but they drop me. Then I hop on the next train until it gets away. During this time, I realize that I can climb well, and I can descend ok, but when the road gets flat, I slow waaay down. I don’t understand this phenomenon, but I do know that it happens.
Eventually I see the Pipeline aid station. I am riding on the right side of the road as I round the corner to the aid station. I look up to see where I am supposed to stop and I see a child with a cup of water on the left. I start moving to the other side of the road. When I get over, I look for some food and don’t see anyone. I am still rolling along the road and look back. The child with the cup had been the last person at the aid station. Somehow I missed the aid station that I had been obsessing over for the last hour. By the time my food deprived brain realizes this; I am far enough past the aid station that I keep riding. My brain tells me I can’t go back because I am in the middle of a race.
So, somehow I miss the aid station, and I think it is ok for me to continue on without food. Clearly my brain is not working at its full potential.
I start up the dirt road past Pipeline as quickly as I can. I start passing people. Here is one of the times during the day that I feel like I am racing. Not because this is a race, but because I know that I have already gone 2 30 minute sections without eating, and I don’t want too much more time to pass before I get some food.
There is a small section of single track in the Leadville 100 race. I did not know about this beforehand, if I had known, I would have ridden even harder so that I did not get stuck behind a slow person in a situation that I could not pass them. Since I did not know about this section, I did get stuck behind a slow person. In fact, I think that I was stuck behind one of the slowest people in the whole world (Probably not really the whole world since he was riding in this race). When the section of single track ended, I believe that I was the 6th person stuck behind this slow person, out of about 150 people. I honestly think that there was a train of 150 people slowed down on this section of single track. It was horrible.
As soon as the single track ended I picked up the pace. I flew down the dirt road toward Twin lakes. All I can think about is how I have not eaten in close to 2 hours. I am extremely worried that I would not be able to recover, but then I came over the rise above the dam and saw the line of spectators cheering on the people in this race.
I met my crew right before the dam.
My crew consists of my brother Zac, his wife Erin and my uncle Scott. Jilene’s husband John is also waiting at this stop. I hop of my bike and sit down in one of their chairs as they start following the instructions that I gave them the night before the race. I pick up a PB and J sandwich and say I need to use the bathroom. Scott offers to hold my bike for me, but I tell him I don’t really have time to go, so I hop back on my bike and set off toward Columbine.
As I approach the hill, I hear some shouting and I see that the race leaders are already coming off the mountain. They pass me one turn before I reach the bottom of the Columbine climb.
Photo courtesy of Zazoosh
Climbing Columbine hurt my mentality a little bit. I passed the first turn when I realized how slow I was moving, how slow EVERYONE was moving. I thought that this would be the section that may just break me, then a girl on a single speed passed me. I saw her come flying by and I decided I could stick with her. I stayed right on her tail all the way up the mountain. I felt awesome.
I passed the tree line and saw the last 4 miles of the hill with a steady stream of people walking. The whole ride I thought there were too many people, but this is one of the times it made me mad. I felt good and wanted to ride, but I couldn’t because people were walking in front of me. There was a time that Ken Clouber was standing on a boulder next to the road telling people to ride, but I couldn’t because people were in the way walking. (I actually did ride for about 18.5 seconds to make Ken happy.)
Eventually (after an hour of walking) I made it to the top, and immediately turned around. I had passed a bunch of people and I wasn’t going to let them pass me while I was stopped. (After the race I found out that I had passed 251 people on the climb. I rock).
The Columbine descent was uneventful and I soon was back at the Twin Lakes aid station. I met Zac and Erin and left them my bike and my camelback. I decided that it finally was time for me to go to the bathroom. I grabbed another PB and J and headed for the Porta Pot.
When I entered the Porta Pot, I faced one of the largest dilemmas in my life to this day. The dilemma was this. I am in a hurry to do this race, but there is no toilet paper. All I have are the clothes I am wearing and the sandwich that I am eating.
At this point, I believe that most people would go find another bathroom, but not this person. I decided that with the ¼ sandwich that I had not yet consumed, I would prevail. So I did my business and used the sandwich to wipe. It worked out perfectly.
I returned to my bike and told my crew the story. Erin started laughing and Zac went to find me some TP. I told Zac that the TP was no longer necessary, but it would probably help someone else if he went and put it in the Porta Pot. I grabbed my camelback and took off.
The Race Gets Hard
This is where the race got difficult. I got to a nice piece of pavement and slowed way down. The wind had started. Elden and my mother both know that any ride that I go on, there will be an absurd amount of wind. We all know that I am the wind-bringer. I can (and do) ruin most any bike ride because of this, but they still invite me. (How nice of them.)
Anyway, this is the part of the ride that I looked down at my clock and realize that that I have only been moving for 7 hours, meaning that I have 5 more hours ahead of me.
I don’t really remember much of what happened during the 10 miles between Twin Lakes and Pipeline, but I do know that it was slow and painful.
About 3 minutes before I reach my uncle Scott at the Pipeline aid station, it starts to sprinkle a little bit, and this causes me to make another bad choice. I stop and Scott tells me that he felt the rain too so I ask for a jacket. Scott hands me a large waterproof jacket that I ball up and put in my pocket. This doesn’t seem like it should be a big deal, but when you are tired and have 25 miles left of racing, and your back is aching, putting a nice big rain jacket in your pocket is more than just annoying.
I refill my supplies and set off again.
After the Pipeline aid station there is more flat and then there is Powerline. Again I realize that I need to work on my “riding on the flat” skills. After another long stretch of flat pavement, we eventually reach Powerline. I am stoked. I start up the dirt road and remember what my mother told me the night before. “It is 3.3 miles past the last gate until the top.” I told her that there is no way that I will be able to remember all the little distances she has told me, but this one did stick out. I start up the climb looking for the gate that means the climb is here, but I don’t see one, and I keep climbing.
I round a corner and I see the real climb. It looks almost vertical with 50 people walking up in single file. At the bottom of that hill, there is a small fence.
I start climbing and just about immediately hop off my bike to push it. I believe the hill is ride-able, but there are too many people, so I get in line like everyone else and keep pushing. When the really steep stuff ends, a guy on the side of the road told me that a single speed guy in the same shirt was the first place on a single speed by about 25 minutes. I said something like “I bet he was happy”, because I do believe that he should have been happy. (Editor’s Note: At that point on the course, I was most definitely not happy.)
After the steep spot, I start riding. The climb is by no means over, but the un-ride-able steep stuff is. I pass a lot of people here. Whenever someone asks me why I am riding, I reply with “Because I trained for a bike race, not a hike.” and I ride away.
I enjoyed the climb a lot.
After the climb there is a fun dirt descent, and then some pavement. I enjoyed the break and ate some Gu. (Before the race I filled some flasks with Gu so I didn’t have to get as sticky. This was probably the thing I was happiest about during the race: I didn’t even get a little sticky.)
St Kevins Climb
When the paved road starts up again, I start having some more mental issues. Before the race, I wrote down the splits for 11:55 from someone last year. So far I had been about 10 minutes ahead of those splits at every check. The splits I wrote down said that I should be at the last aid station at 10:15. My mother told me that if I was there at 10:00 I would be fine, but if I got there any later I would need to push myself. I watched my clock going up the hill before the aid station pass both 10:00 and 10:15. I got to the aid station at 10:23.
I was worried for the first time during the race.
I pulled into the aid station thinking that I want water in my camelback. I know that I have had Gatorade in my camelback for most of the ride and now I need water.
I get to the table and blurt out, “I want Gatorade in my camelback”. I give them my camelback and they start filling it. It took me another minute to realize that I said the wrong thing, but they were already giving the camelback back to me. I decide not to worry and get back on my bike. I move out of the aid station and eat a pack of Honey Stinger chews. I know that the race is not over and I need to keep eating.
I start down the St Kevin’s descent and eat some more chews. I look around and think how different the scenery is. 11 hours earlier it had been dawn, it was nice and moist and the air tasted like excitement. Now it was dry. I don’t think there was more than one turn that I could remember from the way out. It really made me feel like it was a different road (it wasn’t, I didn’t take any wrong turns).
I got to the bottom of the descent and back on the flat. I promised myself that I would not let this flat kill me, and I knew that I had to push it to beat 12 hours.
The Boulevard and Finish
I flew down the road. I ate some more Honey Stinger chews and went even faster. I was excited and I made myself believe I would make it. I turned onto the Boulevard and saw a line of people walking. I didn’t understand. Why were they walking up this little hill, we had just ridden 102 miles. Why are they all walking? I didn’t want to walk, so I rode up the side. Actually I believe I flew up the side. I was happy and full of energy and want it to end, so I kept on riding. When I got to the pavement, I think that I have passed about 75 people.
I was ecstatic and I saw that I was at 11:07. I rode up over the hill where you can see the finish line and all the sudden my right leg cramped. I couldn’t believe it. I had been feeling phenomenal for 11 hours and 10 minutes, then my leg cramped. I wouldn’t let the cramp bother me though. I knew that all I had was ½ a mile to ride in the next 50 minutes. I rode the last hill with just my left leg. It was not it terrible thing, but I thought it was worth mentioning. I passed 4 people in the last 20 yards getting me an 11:15:09 time for my first Leadville 100.
Photo courtesy of Zazoosh
I hopped off my bike and put on my finisher’s medal, then my mother started screaming in my ear. It was SOOO loud. I tried to get away, but she was hugging me too. I submitted to a super hug and almost being made deaf.
I was happy. I had rocked it.