Tuesday, August 14

The Leadville Saga: It's Not About The Bike

I will not lie, there were times during the better part of this past year that I worried The One would slow me down at Leadville. Those moments were quiet, personal, and sparse. I felt fast on my chosen bike. I'd done my research before buying it. I'd put it through the wringer all wadded up and it came out looking fresh and clean.

I maintained my bike myself. I tried different handlebar configurations, went from Goo tubes back to dry, swapped saddles, upgraded pedals...and the bike served me perfectly.

I was envious--feeling inferior--at the start line. I paid less than a grand for my bike. I saw a lot of bikes that were more expensive than any car I've ever ridden in. I worried that The One was still too heavy.

Then I promptly forgot those worries as the countdown began. I never compared bikes again after 6:30, except to marvel that me and my little mule were passing flashier, more expensive, and much lighter bikes in droves.

Friday night I saw a tee shirt that read: "I'm the motor." I liked that.

I didn't let up on my chosen steed. I pedaled it up St Kevin's, foot down once, no walking. I pedaled it up Sugarloaf, again, no walking and no foot down. And then I drove my little mule off the edge of the world over Powerline and I didn't let up. My brakes complained loudly. My body was bucked and beaten. But I drove that bike so hard and it gave back so much. It handled perfectly, shifted, braked, absorbed and kept on rolling mile after mile after mile.

There were a lot of 29ers, and I have to be honest, I wondered if the extra 3 inches would have been better. There were a lot of single speeds, and I didn't have to wonder, I was glad of my derailers.

But in the end the bike didn't let me down and I hardly thought about it once the race started. The bike and I were One.

After Powerline I got free of the dirt and rocks and onto the pavement and I took a good solid minute to examine my tires, drivetrain and other components as I pedaled on toward Pipeline. I was in awe that my little mule took so much abuse with so little injury. She's tough!

I rode it in to work Monday morning. The derailers were a bit stiff, gritty and all, but otherwise the perfect steed carried me on to work in record time: 38 minutes for 9.3 miles with 600 feet of gain. A solid 14mph average.

I will not be upgrading any time soon.

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