One of the really cool things about getting into the Leadville 100 through the Alpine Odyssey qualifier (there are SOOOOO many!) is that I get to start in a different corral than last year. Purple!
Last year my corral color was something like translucent gray. I was in the dogpen in the back with all the other first year riffraff. But since I’m an early riser (or non-sleeper) I secured myself a spot near the front of the white corral, and once I was (literally) frozen in place it seemed as if I was in the geographic middle of the pack. That meant there were as many people to pass as that could possibly pass me. I think it meant that.
From my position at the front of the white corral I could almost see the Technicolor array of cyclists between me and the starting line. This year I fully expect to be blinded by the rainbow of Skittles…er, colors whirling around me as I go screaming (in a slow moving pack) out of Leadville.
Now, before you go throwing undergarments at my blog remember: purple is not gold. This is a tricky concept to master, but once you do you will see that while I do get some color in my life this year at Leadville, I still won’t be blowing the alpenglow off the mountains as I get pushed along in front of the peloton.
Here is where purple falls within the Leadville MTB Trail 100 corral hierarchy:
You see Purple is after Gold, Silver (makes sense), Red (Really?!), and Green. C’mon…Purple after Green? What kind of circus are they running there in Leadville? Both are secondary colors along with orange (in its rightful place after purple!), but clearly those of us that find ourselves in the Purple Corral on August 10 have far less to prove than those of the Green ilk. They should be located in their proper place: behind Purple.
Clearly we in the Purple order have earned the right not to get mixed up in the dogfight that is the rear of the field. I experienced this first hand approaching St. Kevin’s last year. I was riding along at my predetermined, non-explosive, conservative-in-the-beginning-rocket-fast-after-Columbine pace when a bunch of flip-flop wearin’, pudgy-esque, wobbly-wheeled, cracker-chewin’, Midwest-born-and-bred, soon-to-be-inebriated-on-thin-air suck-a-doodles came barreling through the undergrowth to get around the clustershag that is the St. Kevin’s ascent at any point after a Tour de France cyclist goes through.
I mean, I…wedeserve better. It’s bad enough that some of them get ahead of us, but then they’ve used the port-a-johns and sweated all over the seats by the time we get there. They shed water bottles like a redneck slinging Bud cans off an ATV and endanger life and limb. And they all look so desperate, as if this race means everything to them. But they’re so White. And Orange. And Blue. And Grrreen! I can’t stand the thought of those Greenies in front of me on the course!
It’s good to be closer to the front. You don’t have to dodge those that have flatted out on Powerline (55 PSI baby!). You don’t have to elbow so many people out of the way at the Aid Stations. You can breathe fresh (not mountain biker-fouled) air. The photographers get better photos of you because they’re not so tired from hitting the shutter again, and again, and again, and again for thousands of other racers before you even get there.
I mean, how can you be expected to break 9 hours when you’ve got so many useless mountain bikers in your way? I think I might request that next year I get to ride the course the week before the full race. I just want my swag bag, my official time, photos of me coming across the red carpet (we can photoshop in the crowds, any old event photos will do), and my shiny buckle. I’m gonna call Ken and see what he can do.
Also, do you see down at the bottom of the image above where it says “no passing?” Remember that. It’s not a race Jeff!
Well, it is a race. Shut up.