Sunday, August 15th, 2010 | by ergonusa
Sunday August 15, 2010 – Okay, where were we? Even though the race is in the books, I’ll go over the final two days of my preparation before I describe the race. Every day has some significance in the process, especially as you get close to race day.
After the endurance ride on Wednesday, I did an easy MTB ride (less than an hour) on my race bike on the dead flat Contour Trail above Western State College. Then on Friday, instead of my typical routine from the past 7 years, which has been riding the first 15 miles of the course, I cut off the St. Kevins climb and rode the pavement around the non-course side of Turquoise Lake, intersecting the course as it turns onto the Hagerman Pass Road.
On the pavement around the lake, I did 3 reps of PHOS (10 second all out sprints, one every three minutes) to hopefully open things up a bit. Once on the course, I did the Sugarloaf climb and the Powerline descent and then exited the course and made my way back to the Exploder. The ride was just shy of an hour and a half. I rode shorter, harder and climbed less than usual and also did it in the morning before the prerace meeting instead of after, which is how I had always done it. This opened up my afternoon a bunch and I had a chill evening and was in bed by 930pm, which has never happened before. I slept more and better than I ever have, but the alarm still went off at 330am, egad!
Coffee and breakfast, head for the race, a good warm-up and I’m on the start line next to Levi. Also in attendance were JHK, Todd Wells, Jeremiah Bishop, Jay Henry, Matt Schriver, Alex Grant, MTB legends Ned and Tinker, Defending ladies champ Rebecca Rusch, my big brother Brian, a bunch of other fast racers and around 1,500 other riders from 48 states and 20+ foreign countries. Tons of spectators, too and 630am temps of around 37.
I was more relaxed this year, still keen to give it my best shot but, realistic about my ability to ride with the leaders up the first climb and beyond. On the first climb, I couldn’t hang, but I got with some guys, including Ned and Tinker, and eventually we clawed our way back onto the lead group as they hit the dirt again after rounding Turquoise Lake. Some accordioning over Sugerloaf, a crash among the leaders, no carnage on the Powerline descent and we had a nice group of at least 10 riders for a pleasant but fast cruise all the way to Twin Lakes. Both JHK and Levi spent time at the front pushing on the pedals and keeping us on focused and in single file.
The Twin Lakes feed zone always breaks things up as guys grab their bags in different places and in different ways. I was pretty fast but still got gapped and it was a gap I wanted no part in closing. At the bottom of Columbine, I was alone in 6th with Levi, JHK, Wells, Bishop and Shriver up the road. I just got into my groove and rode my own pace, the way I always approach Columbine. First, Shriver came back to me and was gone. I could still get an occasional glimpse of Wells and Bishop, now dropped by the duo at the front, Levi and JHK.
Once Columbine opens up and gets steep near tree line, you can see way up ahead. Wells and Bishop were pleasantly close and I could see the leaders, which was in stark contrast to last year when Lance put around ten minutes on me on this climb. Levi and JHK bettered me up Columbine by 3 or 4 minutes with Wells and Bishop between us. I kept riding my pace, now my marching orders for the rest of the race, as it was for most everyone, topped out Columbine and headed back toward Leadville.
The Gap between the leaders and I grew to 9 minutes pretty fast and soon after our second trip through the Twin Lakes feed zone I saw Bishop alone and coming back to me and I also got a glimpse of Wells, well up the trail and a quick shot of JHK and Levi even farther away, nearing the top of the singletrack. From this point on, Jeremiah and I were partners and worked together all the way to the finish. We were both ragged from the early pace but were well-matched and it was cool to ride with JB for a few hours out there. We crossed the line, he gave me 4th place, probably because I’m so old, 3 and a half minutes behind Wells; 8 and a half behind JHK; and a whopping 17+ behind Levi.
I’ll take it! I wouldn’t change my preparation at all and I think I was as fit as ever. I certainly don’t feel like I’m going to be 46 next month. I was worked from the start but that’s the way this race has gone: fast, hard starts that are going to punish pretty much everyone, and then you hang on as best you can. Huge congrats to everyone who took the challenge (and had good fortune in the lottery!) and set out for 100 miles in the Colorado high-country!