Most things I write for this site are meant to be accessible by anyone who likes bikes. Or knows what a bike is.
This one is not. This post is really just for myself — something I can bookmark and put on my phone’s home page, then go back and refer to about a thousand times during the next few days.
Because this is my Leadville Numbers, Stats, Lists, and Miscellaneous Obsessing post.
But you’re welcome to read it anyway. Especially if you happen to be in Leadville right now and are obsessing over similar things.
Mostly Failing to Learn from History
First of all, I’ve done the Leadville race before. Lots of times. Here’s a list of how I did (links go to race reports when I have them):
- 1997: 10:36
- 1998: 11:27
- 1999: 09:13
- 2000: 09:30
- 2001: 09:17
- 2002: 10:20
- 2003: 09:20
- 2004: 10:56
- 2005: 09:41
- 2006: 10:06
- 2007: 09:14
- 2008: 10:06 (Singlespeed)
- 2009: DNF (Singlespeed)
- 2010: 09:17 (Singlespeed)
- 2011: 08:18
- 2012: 08:49 (Singlespeed, 1st place)
There’s probably enough data in that collection of stories to give anyone who cares to figure it all out a good list of things one should do — and not do — in this race.
Oh, and if you’re curious how I keep all these times straight, it’s cuz my friend Rod made me a cool sweatshirt with my finishing times and defining moments listed on it:
I should probably get a sharpie and write my 2012 time on that sweatshirt, though.
The Danger Distances
For me, one of the tricks to racing the Leadville 100 is to not let the whole thing get into my head. I am always racing the current section. When I get to the end of that section, I push my mental reset button and start the next one.
So if I had a bad section, I’m mentally starting over. Just because a part of it went bad doesn’t mean the whole thing has to go bad.
That said, there are certain sections that are always difficult, and I find it helpful to know their distances. Here they are (links go to Strava segments):
- Twin Lakes Dam to Columbine Turnaround: 10.0 miles. This is the climb everyone everyone focuses on, but it’s honestly not the hardest part. It’s the second-hardest. I find it useful to break this section down further. 2 miles from the aid station to the base of the climb. 1/2 mile of extremely hard climbing after that. 4.5 miles of medium-effort climbing. 3 miles of swapping between hiking and riding. And then you’re at the top.
- The Powerline Climb: The hardest part of the race is the Powerline Climb. It is simply brutal. So it’s helpful to know that from when you turn off the pavement, it’s 4.0 miles to the top. For me, it’s even more helpful to know that when you go through a gate — signaling the beginning of the climb in earnest — it’s 3.3 miles to the top.
- The Turquoise Lake Paved Climb: After dropping down Sugar Loaf, you turn on to pavement. From there, it’s 4.6 miles ’til you turn back on to dirt. The first 1.5 miles of it is downhill, though, and a fantastic place to fuel up for the long grind ahead. Then you take a hard right and it’s 3 miles ’til you turn left onto dirt again (where there’s a mini aid station waiting for you).
My Hoped-For Splits
Here’s a fun drinking game you can play when you’re in Leadville right before the Leadville 100. Just ask everyone how they’re hoping to do in the race. Drink every time someone replies with one of the following:
- “I’m just hoping to finish.”
- “Anything under twelve hours sounds good to me.”
And I don’t need to list anything else, because those are the only two things anyone ever says. It’s like we’ve all made a secret pact with each other to not reveal to anyone what our actual ambitions are, in spite of the fact that we’ve all spent hours figuring out our projected split times.
Well, “Enough!” I say, forcefully. I’m going to come right out and tell you: My best-case objective is to finish in 8:34. Fifteen minutes faster than last year. There, I said it. That’s what I want. However, I will be very happy indeed with any time that is faster than the 8:49 I finished with last year.
And here’s how that ought to look:
- Pipeline (25 miles): 2:00
- Twin Lakes (40 miles): 2:40
- Columbine Turnaround (50 miles): 4:20
- Twin Lakes (60 miles): 4:55
- Pipeline (75 miles): 6:00
- Finish line (103.8 miles): 8:30
What will I be eating and drinking? Well, here’s what I’m going to be asking my crew (which will be Kenny and Heather!) to have ready for me:
Twin Lakes 1 (2:40)
- Water (for chugging)
- 1.5 bottles
- 4 gels
- Pull off arm warmers
Twin Lakes 2 (4:55)
- Rice cake
- 1 bottle
- 2 gels
- 1 chews, open
- Water (for chugging)
- Rice cake
- 2 bottles
- 2 chews
- 4 gels
And that’s about it. I’m easy to crew for.
OK. I’m done obsessing. Or more accurately, I’m done writing about my obsessing. I’m heading out this evening, and will arrive in Leadville tomorrow. I’ll be tweeting (if you don’t follow me, maybe you should: I’m @fatcyclist, unsurprisingly), and — if I have time and am not too anxious — may post a few short entries on the blog.
And I’ll be back Monday, with a race report of…whatever happens.