The plan to ride Mt. Evans was nothing new – I’d ridden it a couple times before, once from Idaho Springs and once from Echo Lake – but wanting to ride it from home is something I’ve been trying to make happen for a few years. Even though the logistics are simple, the ride statistics are daunting at about 110 miles and over 11,000′ of climbing round-trip. My schedule, weather, and motivation finally aligned on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, and I settled on a 4am start to be early-enough to beat any afternoon thunderstorms, but not so early that the drunks would still be driving around.
I started by heading up and over Lookout Mountain, to the Genesee bike path, and on to Evergreen Parkway – a ride I’ve done countless times. Sunrise was just after 5:30, meaning it finally started getting light a bit after 5am. At about six a.m. I stopped to eat a bar, check in at home (where everyone was still asleep), switched my light from “see” to “be seen,” and started up Squaw Pass. Shortly after eight, I was on CO-5, the Mount Evans Highway.
This past weekend brought the second biggest event in the Leadman series, one that I put a lot of training time and effort towards for the sake of getting a big shiny belt buckle – including a huge three-day weekend on the bike last month. I started the weekend with an early drive to Leadville for packet pickup and killed some time before the mandatory pre-race meeting with a haircut. The meeting was a waste of time, with no relevant race information but plenty of “you’re all amazing, especially these guys who have done the race dozens of times, enjoy the near-life experience you’re about to have, etc. etc. etc.” With that over I slowly made my way to lunch and my hotel, and wound down for the afternoon/evening.
My alarm came plenty early at 4am on Saturday. I microwaved some breakfast, got dressed, put on most of a tube of sunscreen, and before I knew it I was lined up in my starting corral.
Earlier this year, the Rodeo guys posted up a trip they were planning through the Flat Tops Wilderness. It looked ridiculous – three days to cover 265 miles and nearly 20,000′ of climbing over mixed terrain in places bicycles are rarely seen. I didn’t know what bike would be appropriate, or if I’d even have an appropriate bike for the trip. I did know, however, that it would be perfect training for the Leadville 100 bike race. So I signed up, knowing I had a lot of work to put in before mid-July rolled around.
Working nights most of the summer on top of raising a family got in the way of a lot of training time, but preparing for this trip and the Leadman series were a big enough priority that I fit in what I could; even so, I was nervous in the days leading in to the weekend. The day the trip finally rolled around, I woke up to my alarm at 3, had a small breakfast and coffee, and hit the road. I got to Steamboat a bit early, but before I knew it we were loading up the support van and getting ready to roll out.
This past weekend was one I’ve been looking forward to wrapping up for a while now. For the Leadman series, I was only required to do one of the two 50 mile races. Needing a qualifying time to get in a better corral in the 100 MTB, doing the bike race was the obvious choice. If I hadn’t, I’d start the race in the very back, behind at least 1000 people (there were ~1,350 finishers last year) and have almost no chance of finishing under nine hours. So doing the 50 mile bike race on Saturday was a given. At the same time, I went in to this series having never run an ultramarathon – so maybe it would be good to get the experience of a 50 mile run to sort out my pacing, nutrition, etc. And if I did it the day after a bike race, I’d have the bonus of doing those 50 miles on already-tired legs. And with that, another poor decision was made – to do a pair of 50 mile races back to back. Continue reading →
This will likely be my last year with a good level of run fitness. I qualified for the Boston Marathon at Colfax last year, and am currently getting ready for that. Then I figured, “what the hell, I’ll do the Leadville Trail Marathon again, and see if I can pick up a qualifying spot for the LT100.” Then I saw that there were a few remaining spots for the Leadman competition, which, among other things, includes an entry to the LT100 run. And bike. And 50. And marathon. And because the organizers may be mildly sadistic, a 10km the day after the LT100 bike.
And so one of those days that seems to come along every few years, when I make a decision that I know I’ll regret before I ever even commit. Expect some snapshots and updates once in a while, along with some potentially-rambling thoughts about what I’ve gotten myself in to. I’ve got a big summer ahead, with lots of running, cyling, and big days in the mountains. In any given week for the next couple months, I’ll be trying to run about 50 miles, get in a decent bike ride or two, and spend a day in the mountains. Last week was a down week, with only 27 miles ran and a cold road ride.
Back to normal (?) this week, and hopefully weather this weekend will cooperate. It’s certainly been weird lately.
Summer has quickly faded in Colorado, and Fall is back in force. Cool, sunny days make for great cyclocross weather, and a special late-day/evening race schedule thanks to Without Limits meant a full day at the races without having to get out of bed at 5am. There are a ton of photos here (I ended up with about 650 at the end of the day) so the captioning will be a bit light.
And just like that, ‘cross season is back in Colorado. At the time of this writing things are more than a bit damp thanks to a 100-year storm, but moondust was the name of the game last weekend at Cross of the North. I’m back to “racing” in the singlespeed category, partly due to missing the pain that comes with not being able to change gear ratios mid-race, but also largely due to racing at 8am instead of 2:30pm. I’m a morning person through-and-through, and the early race works perfectly for me.
The Leadville Trail Marathon is now four weeks behind us. I signed up for it in memory of Rob Janssen, who passed in a climbing accident last year. My training was almost all-consuming leading up to it, as evidenced by my near-total lack of peak skiing this year, despite an excellent spring. The race was an amazing experience, but took it out of me in a way nothing has before. Motivation was nonexistent, energy levels through the floor, and recovery slower than molasses.
Things finally changed his week, thanks to the preseason Salvagetti/Happy Coffee Cyclocross team meeting. After a month of not wanting to do anything, I’m now to the point where I’m even looking forward to trainer workouts. It’s good to be back.
Because I need to get caught up on photos and such, below are two photos from the Bailey Hundo. The first is Christopher Jones blasting the end of Sandy Wash, the second Levi enjoying a free massage at the aid station.
As a condition of joining the Happy Coffee team, each member agrees to host a race. This same race last year was my favorite (despite the broken chain), so I volunteered Lauren and myself to make sure a good time was had by all this weekend. This year’s race schedule has had the SW4 class (Lauren’s category) starting at 8am. Setting up meant an even earlier start to the day for us, and we were on-site putting up the tent in the pre-dawn, sub-freezing temperatures as frost grew on our bikes, car, table, the grass… everything, really.
Boulder Ultra CX was possibly the hardest and most enjoyable race I’ve done all year. No official support, no course markings, and best of all – no entry fees. The course was 50 miles long, which I successfully navigated due to the GPS mounted on my bike’s stem. It included 6,000′ of climbing, including one uninterrupted 20-mile long, 3,300′ climb. The course looked a little something like Continue reading →