Guess what? I got a fever! And the only prescription...is more cowbell!
--the Bruce Dickenson
Oh, I've got a fever!
Leadville was awesome. We would move there if it were feasible (i.e. job, money, etc.). We had a great time camping and other than one member of the family having some altitude related discomfort we had a great 20+ mile bike ride from camp over to town and around the Mineral Belt Trail on Friday.
For the race on Saturday we were assigned to traffic control at the intersection of County Roads 9 and 9D (just south of Leadville Junction). We were there at 6am and right on time a snaking line of mountain bikers came down the hill following a police escort.
As they passed en mass, shoulder to shoulder, completely taking the lane(s) the buzz of hundreds of knobby tires on the asphalt was like a swarm of angry bees. And once they really got going the wind generated by the mass of bodies moving past at 20-30 miles an hour was incredible. It was an amazing experience.
After the racers had all passed we were off duty until noon, so we headed into town to grab some breakfast and then went back to camp and packed up our stuff so we could leave straight away after we were done with traffic control.
We were the third control point from the beginning, so we were also one of the last, and latest, points on the route. We were out there from 11:00am (didn't have to be there til noon, but had nothing else to do) until almost 7 o'clock. It was a blast, and other than the fact that we were sunburned, tired and thirsty and that the kids were just worn out by 6pm, it was an experience hard to describe. The first few dozen riders were the pros and they were on a mission. But then after that we started seeing Average Joe and Average Jane (reportedly 271 Janes this year) and many called out thanks as they pedaled past.
I saw two of the people featured in Race Across the Sky 2010, the Denver firefighter who has ridden every year since the race began (can't remember his name), and Gracie Ragland, a woman in the 50-59 category who has MS (I think), and she finished at 12:11 which is just phenomenal.
We hung out with a 72 year old gentleman named Jerry. His son has raced 12 years but had to sit this year out due to a broken clavicle. Jerry was waiting to see his friend, 64 year old William (Bill) "Doc" Wenmark, who has ridden the race the past 14 years.
The countdown has begun. In less than a year I'll be sitting at the start line in the pre-dawn cold, heart aflutter with anticipation and 100 miles of hard riding ahead. But I have almost a year to get ready and I have faith that I will be able to pull it off with the support of my family and friends. It's going to be a fun ride just getting there.
Of course, as with most of the Average Joes out there I am at the mercy of the lottery, but I have a few hours of volunteering under my buckle-less belt to give me a little preference (but not a guarantee) when I register in a few short months.
I promised not to go on about Leadville back when I first mentioned it here at the Pavement's Edge, but get ready Dear Readers, I'll be ramping up on my Leadville themed pontifications.
To begin, I have a three month goal of getting my diet on track and getting my shoulder completely healed. By then winter will be looming and I won't be able to do a lot of bike-specific training. That's why Mandy and I are going to be doing a lot of "100" oriented fitness training. She's agreed to work with me on my goal to do 100 pushups, 100 pullups, 100 situps, etc, etc. My secret goal is that by the time the race comes around I want her to regret not doing it with me. I will convert her over to the dark side.
My ultimate goal is to get a buckle. I won't be able to beat Lance, or Dave Weins, but I will finish in less than 12 hours and I'm gonna try my darnedest to finish less than 9.
I forgot to mention one other thing concerning the popularity of the race that I have qualms with. I noticed after only a short while that this year's race jersies had "Lifetime" in huge lettering across the front and back and "Leadville Trail 100 MTB" in miniscule lettering. Ken Chlouber, one of the founders of the race series, recently sold the series to a Minnesota company called Lifetime Fitness.