Thursday, July 12

The Leadville Chronicles: To Leadville...and Beyond

I've known about the Leadville 100 since at least 2008 when I moved to Colorado. Maybe I'd heard of it before that, but I can't say for sure.

In '08 I couldn't fathom riding 100 miles off road in a day. That seemed like something only superhumans could do. In '09, after completing the 120 mile Triple Bypass, I conceded to the possibility of mere mortals being able to do 100 miles of mountain bike racing, but still assumed they be of the uber-athletic ilk.

Then I saw Ride the Divide. Those people didn't seem like Lance Armstrongs with hairy legs. Soon after I saw Race Across the Sky 2010. Hey! Some of those people were old...frail in health...diminutive in size...fat and slow like me...normal. Average people were doing the Leadville 100.

I could do that!

Once I made the span across the chasm to the land where something like that was possible the appeal of the event exploded in my mind, and, like all of my best schemes, became an obsession.

But let's go back to that Ride the Divide thing...

How does a movie about a mostly unknown 2,745 mile mountain bike race, self-supported, inspire one to do a one day all or nothing, cult classic, fully supported and fee-d bike race/event?

It's all the same cloth man! The seeds for Leadville were already there. The Tour Divide became my new "only monsters can do that" dark corner in my mind, but only until the end of the movie. By then I was in like Kevin Flynn.

And I knew if I could do Leadville then I could do the Tour Divide. My only hang up to doing the Great Divide route is having the time to do it.

My obsessive Internet twitchings eventually led me to the Colorado Trail Race. I was pleased to find this mini-Tour Divide that begins just 30 miles from my front door.

The record is four days, three hours and twenty minutes to do the 470 mile self-supported race. The slowest times for finishers are about eleven days. That's less than a 50 mile a day average. Heck, I could do better than that!

A couple of friends in Kentucky are planning to do the Tour Divide in a few years. I replied to a Facebook thread that the CTR would be a great shakedown for the TD.

So maybe in the summer of 2013 I ride the Colorado Trail Race with a couple other guys.

That puts me one step closer to Le Grande Tour. No, not the one in France.

I have the distinct feeling that my forties may be my funnest decade.

I discovered something while comprehensively mapping the CTR. The CTR route and the Leadville 100 run together for two and a half miles. At first I also thought the Tour Divide might run with them too, but then I remembered it takes the path into South Park over Boreas Pass on the east side of the Divide, whereas Leadville is on the west.

So the CTR first crosses the TD route in Breckenridge, then runs with the LV100 for 2.5 miles, then crosses the TD route again south of Poncha Springs, then the two run the same road for about six miles going opposite directions. Between Breck and Leadville is only about 20 miles as the crow flies. That 20 miles should be the Golden Triangle of mountain biking.

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