Wednesday, August 21

The Leadville Saga: How It Feels

I was amazed how high my spirits were when I was at the bottom of the Boulevard on  that Saturday, saw the time, and realized I wasn't going to get a belt buckle. I was even more amazed when I crested the top of the hill on 6th Avenue and could see the finish that I didn't burst into tears. They could have been tears of joy or tears of despair at having missed the mark. They didn't come. 

I was absolutely blown away that I didn't sob in relief, sadness, or joy when I rolled across the finish and was surrounded by my loving crew, my amazing family. This past year has been incredibly hard, and at times I've felt an emotional flood building up. I've been waiting for the dam to break for a long time. I've foresen a day when I would just be overwhelmed and would have myself a good long cry.

That didn't happen. And I don't think it will. I think that entire mass of emotions trickled away in my slipstream as I rode. I think over those miles I dropped off more and more of my cares and burdens as I pedaled first toward Columbine and then turned and pointed myself back toward Leadville. By the time I reached 6th and Harrison I was washed clean of a year or two of my cares and worry. It was cathartic.

Physically I felt pretty wrecked. My legs tightened up right away. My back started to cramp when I tried to stretch back at the house and then all my major muscle groups began twitching toward cramps. I was drained of energy by the time I finally got to sit down as I waited for Mandy to return to the house with pizza. I was dog tired. I don't think I've ever been so physically exhausted in my life. And then I had insomina for about 48 hours. I couldn't sleep Saturday night, and Sunday night we were on the road. I can't sleep well in the car. After a good night's sleep Monday I woke up with less soreness and I was getting my energy back. By the end of the week I realized it had taken me more than a couple of days to recover.

I've said it all along: I'm satisfied with my 12:24 finishing time. I know I'm not official. I know I didn't get a buckle. However, if for some reason I never get a chance to go back and try for a buckle again I will live the rest of my life considering myself a finisher. I won. I'm happier than I would have ever imagined I would be having come home without a buckle.

I am content.

I won't lie though, the desire is growing in me to go back and improve on my time, to get a buckle, to throw down an even more monumental effort. The weight is going to come off. My legs are going to get faster. And even if I never go back to Leadville I have been inspired to be a better mountain biker and endurance participant.  As of this morning I'm down to 193.  It's a beginning.

Yesterday I looked at my splits more in depth and I realize where I'm weak: climbing.  I like climbing.  I shouldn't be weak in that area.  Regardless of my future in Leadville I have decided to become the local KOM.  I've decided I can drop this weight and be the cyclist I want to be.

My injured ego, so long beaten, bludgeoned,'s started to heal, quickly, to knit back together and to help me stand taller, talk louder, and meet people's eyes. I needed that Saturday bike ride. I needed it bad, and I am thankful to God that I got it, and that I can look back on it now with a healthy pride and with determination to go forward with the lessons I've learned. I am confirmed in my abilities. My experiences were valuable and will benefit me for years to come. I was right about a lot of things, and I can learn from the things I was not right about.

You might imagine that some of this is me riding on the high of having done something big. And that's a fair assessment. In time my feelings of elation will fade and my insecurities will creep back in. I know this all too well. The fact that my self-confidence was based on my performance in a mountain bike race should have been your first clue that I'm somewhat delusional.

That's okay though. I'll recover. I'll move forward. I'm already doing better handling the mundane and the routine. The drudgerous demons in my life have quieted for now. I think I'll be able to find effective repellents going forward. I won't necessarily have to invest so much in a Colorado bike race to find my peace anymore. It might be a good idea to use it every so often to clean the slate though. I definitely understand why so many get hooked and go back year after year. It's addictive, and I'm an addictive personality. So next year when I compose my 2014 Why I Did It, How I Did It and How It Feels Posts I may just combine them into one simple statement:

I'm addicted.



  1. I was afraid I was going to have a big let down after being "done" with Leadville. So much time and effort went into it. Then all of that is finished. But instead I have been kind of busy thinking about what I am going to ride next summer, what I will need to do to be ready for that, how to convert/update my bike from a 26 to a 650b :)

    I rode on Monday, really hard for an hour. I was fast. Not sure I could have gone a long time like that, but my legs are coming around.

    1. I was on the MTB for the first time yesterday at a new trail system and had 2nd and 3rd fastest times on two Strava segments. I was surprised because the other people who have ridden there are strong riders. Must be space junk banging up the satellites...

      Yeah, I've been thinking ahead a lot. I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do though. Might actually try to get in the lottery for 2014.

  2. That's great! You should definitely look into it. It's worth all the effort.