Saturday, November 19

Pacing Leadville

When I returned to the Coalton Trailhead it was looking like there was no way I was going to pull off a 10 mph average. I had been going for 26+ miles and three hours. I had one big climb ahead of me and 13 miles to go. I just didn't think I'd pull it off.

Rewind three hours: I left the house at 8am on The One and headed north. Biting off an ambitous chew, I had it in my mind that I would ride the Dirty Bismarck from my front door. Yeah, big ambitious for me.

I'd mapped it out and found that the Coalton Trailhead was just over 13 miles from home. Starting at the Coalton TH and doing the loop clockwise dumps a cyclist out at the base of the Dirty Wall right off the, after 13 miles of approach.

I started out strong. I took Garrison to Oberon, Oberon to Kipling and Kipling to Standley Lake. Took the wrong road at Standley and ended up having to portage the bike across the spillway but then I was back on route. On the return trip I made the right choice to get back south of the lake though.

Simms wasn't as bad as I had expected it to be. But then my planned Westminster open space detour turned out to be a restricted road, so I had to stick with Simms past the airport on up to 120th. Jogged west to Superior open space and bombed down into the Rock Creek neighborhood and made a strong showing at the Coalton TH. The descent down from 120th was steep enough I had to put it completely out of my mind. I told myself I would deal with it when the time came.

Looking down into Superior from the south along 120th

It took an hour and fifteen minutes from home to reach Coalton and the Dirty Bismarck. I knew the DB was about 13 miles and would take about an hour and a half. Right on schedule I returned to Coalton after a windy circuit just before eleven o'clock. I was tired. And that climb up to 120th loomed in my mind, and in my view as a matter of fact.

I'd paused at the TH for a short break to eat and use the restroom. So I was pedaling toward the big climb back up to 120th right at eleven. I wanted to be home by noon, but I knew it was going to be a hard 13 miles. I was getting more tired and I knew I had the big climb and a couple of smaller climbs between me and home.

Cranking up through the open space was not as bad as I had expected, though I did end up walking about a hundred feet or so toward the end. I swung back over the top tube and coasted the last few hundred yards to 120th. Then gravity got hold of me and I was screaming south again.

Simms went down easy, I jumped over to the desolate sidewalk on the east side all the way back to Standley Lake and rocketed across the base fo the dam. I was feeling the miles as I crawled up the last bit to 86th Parkway. Another mountain biker came in from a side trail and left me in his dust. I wanted to explain: "I'm at the tail end of a forty miler!" But I said nothing.

There was a short descent down Kipling and then a haul up to 80th and a few blocks beyond. But then above 72nd I hit the apex of the last significant climb and gravity had me once again. It was a screaming ride all the way back to 58th.

When I reached 58th I assumed I was somewhere between noon and one o'clock. I was hungry and tired so I decided instead of going home and then going back out for lunch or having to fix something I'd stop and check out Stefano's Bakery and Deli at Garrison and 58th. When I leaned the bike up against Stefano's front stoop it was 11:59am. Ha! With my two ten minute breaks (minus five more to get home from Stefano's) en route I had still managed to do a 40 mile, mostly dirt, impromptu ride with 1,700+ feet of climbing and maintain a 10.6 mph average. Stellar!

I had a nice chat with Stefano as he fixed me up a #1. Turns out he used to race bikes. He said he was jealous I was out riding on such a nice day. We talked about riding up and over Vail Pass, about next year's USA Pro Cycling Challenge, and then I headed home to eat a really, really good sandwich with ham, salami, prosciutto, provolone, tomato, lettuce, oil and vinegar.

2011 Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race

10.6 mph average for forty miles is not too bad considering I haven't been doing anything other than my daily commutes to train for Leadville. Forty isn't one hundred though. But its a good start! I need to work up to an 11.1 mph average for a hundred mile, 10,000' gain ride. Doesn't seem like much, but I think it's farther away than it looks right now.

Another cyclist enjoying some dirty therapy

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