Leadville - The Report

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Leadville - The Report

Postby Manny » Sun Aug 12, 2007 10:47 am

Before I start I want to say that all of here have agreed that Ralph is getting his old nickname back. So from now on, Ralph is back to being F'ing Ralph. That's not because he kicked ass yesterday. It's because we were totally counting on his race report from last year, and his comments about the race to get an idea of what we were getting into. But F'ing Ralph conveniently left out some major, major details about this race which kicked all our asses. F'ing Ralph!

I won't be going into every detail of the race, but I will cover the most significant parts.

Anyway, on to the race....

With a shotgun blast, the race started promptly at 6:30am. Racers were asked to seed themselves according to their estimated time. So all of us, knowing what we did from F'ing Ralph (See above) started in the 10-11 hour section. The mass start was incredible. The riders followed a police car out of town going about 20mph. And it was cold! My fingers and toes immediately froze. The first 2 miles or so were on a paved road, and somewhat scary with so many riders. But then the police car took off just as we turned into the first dirt road. This became a huge cluster fuck, and within a mile we were on the first climb of the day.

The climbs....

One of the first things F'ing Ralph failed to mention was how steep the climbs were. From the first one on, they were steep. As if that wasn't enough, they were dirt roads. And as if those two things weren't enough, almost everyone was covered with rocks. Rocks all over the road. And they were long climbs. I don't think there was a hill that was under a mile long. So climbing was a combination of grinding on the lowest gear, while trying to pick a good line (avoiding all the rocks and ruts) and trying to keep from spinning your rear tire on the loose dirt. Some of the hills were so steep that if for any reason you had to stop and put a foot down, you were done. There was no getting back on the bike. You had to push it until you found a flatish section were you could start riding again. And remember that we are doing all this on a full suspension mountain bike that weights close to 30 pounds.

The downhills....

Another thing F'ing Ralph failed to mention was how technical some of the descents were. There were some descents that if you were not a good mountain biker, you were walking. They required total concentration which was mentally exhausting. And your hand got numb from holding on to the bars and brakes so much. One in particular was a beast.

Powerline Road....

This hill turned out to be the bitch of the day. On the way out of town we descended it, and it was ugly. The road followed along power lines, hence the name. It was steep as hell, probably the steepest of the longest hills of the course. It was much, much steeper than Sugarloaf. And about 3 miles long. It basically went straight down for 3 miles, with several blind turns. It was covered in rocks. But worst of all, there were huge ruts all over created by rain and snow melt. These ruts are what made it so tough. In some places these things were about 1 foot deep. If you didn't jump or bunny hop them, you'd be going over your bars. All the way down powerline, there was really only one line you could take. And it was fast! Since it was so steep, if you weren't walking it, you were flying!! You could not go slow. It was basically just go fast, and hope to God you hit everything correctly.

It was on this section that Landis went down hard. And it was on this section that F'ing Ralph also went down in what BB2 described as "the worst crash I have ever seen in my life!" BB2 and Bob were right behind Ralph, and they both said they thought Ralph was dead. And since it was so steep and fast, when they saw him crash they couldn't stop. They had to keep riding past him. But aside from a badly cracked helmet, F'ing Ralph was ok. Got up, dusted off, and got back on the bike. He's not human.

There were many other crashes on this section, many. It was the most ass-phuckering, scariest section of the race. If you did not have your technicals skills on par, you were going down.

Colombine Mine...

After the descent on powerline, we rode a few more hills here and there before reaching the 40 mile SAG at the Twin Lakes Reservoir. This was the point of no return. This was the place to fuel up before heading into hell. Twin lakes was the last stop before starting the nearly 8 mile climb up to the top of the mountain, at Colombine Mine. it was going to be a gain of 3500 in about 8 miles.

Scott and I started this section together. As we left Twin Lakes we were greeted with the return of the leaders of the race. Local and popular race Dave, with Floyd right on his wheel. These guys are truly inhuman, but more on that later.

After leaving Twin lakes we had about 2 miles before the start of the main climb. These two miles were a warm up. It started with a 1 mile climb which descended into an open valley, which then lead to the bottom of the climb.

As soon as the climb started, you knew. The road was about 8 foot wide. And as all the previous climbs, rocky. Really, really rocky. But what surprised me was the steepness. I expected it to be long but gradual. It wasn't. Right from the get-go, it was Sugarloaf steep, and stayed that steep the entire way.

By the time Scott and I reached it, the front riders were coming back down, so it was scary. On the one hand, you are trying to climb, avoid the rocks and ruts, avoid the walkers, and keep your pace. But also, you had to avoid the guys coming down, who were flying. I which I had video of how fast these guys were coming down the mountain, on an 8 foot road with steep drop offs on the side.

On the way up there were about 7 switchbacks. It reminded me a lot of Hogpen. Sharp switchbacks which got even steeper.

The climb did suck. It was not easy by any means, but at least you could keep moving. That was until we got past the tree line near the top of the mountain about 5 miles into the climb. Once we got up there, the sand road pretty much ended, and it turned into rocks. Nothing but huge rocks covering the entire road. Everyone had to walk this part, pushing their bike. It was impossible to ride. Not only that, but even pushing was tough. it was hard to get a good grip on the ground so you kept slipping. At the same time you have riders still coming down, trying to find anyway down the rocks. This was the section that did me in. It was these two miles of pushing my bike uphill at the top of the mountain that took me out of the race. Again, I wish I had pictures, because it's hard to describe just how much this truly sucked.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the race organizers did something really mean. As you cleared the tree line, you could look left and see the turnaround point, way, way in the distance above you. So as you are walking your bike barely able to move, that turnaround point was mocking you.

And as if those two things weren't bad enough, we were climbing up to 13,000 feet, so with every step we took, we got higher and higher, which meant less and less oxygen. It was so hard to breath that I couldn't drink out of my camelbak because taking a drink meant missing a breath. If I wanted to drink. I had to stop.

So, after 3 hours of leaving Twin Lakes (10 miles back) I reached the top. One thing I will say, the view from the top of the mountain was amazing. We were surrounded by the Rockies and it was simply beautiful. I took several minutes to just sit and enjoy the view. I figured if I made it up there, I might as well enjoy it.

But I didn't have much time to waste. From here I had 5 hours to make the 12 hour cut off, which I knew would be impossible. But, I gave it a go anyway.

Going down...

Going back down to Twin Lakes was kinda fun, in a scary kinda way. It was 8 miles straight down, on the same rocky, steep 8 foot sandy road. First you had to deal with the 2 miles of rocks that we had just pushed our bikes up on. This was slow going. The rocks would slip out from under you so it was technically challenging. Then once we hit the tree line, the road became sandy again. I took some chances on the 6 mile downhill, trusting my bike to handle everything I hit. On the way down I'd hit huge rocks or ruts that I would see at the very last minute, and going about 30mph, on a mountain bike, on a sandy road, I had to bunny hop them. I wasn't too worried of the road or the obstacles, I felt comfortable I could handle them. But I was worried about the switchbacks. They would sneak up on you, and if you were going too fast as you approached them, well, I would hate to think what would have happened.

The ride down to Twin Lakes only took me about 45 minutes. Just over three hours on the way up, 45 minutes on the way down.

I reached the Twin Lakes SAG, 60 miles, after 7 hours and 45 minutes into the race. So I had just over 4 hours to ride the last 40 miles. Easy right? Just keep an average of 10mph and I'd be able to do it. Yeah, right!


I rode right through Twin lakes, didn't stop for anything, knowing I needed every minute possible. But the next 15 miles were pretty tough, it was mostly up hill. Some of the climbs were short, but too steep for riding. It was more tough bike pushing. This is were I started to bonk. I got to the point were anytime the road went up, I could barely pedal. Even the flats were tough. I kept moving, but I had one one thought in my mind the entire way, Powerline Road.

I knew that on the way back to the finish, we would have to go up Powerline Road, which we had descended earlier. And I was scared. I knew that a) it was going to be unridable and so b) I would be pushing my bike for nearly three miles in an incredibly steep hill. And it was this thought, the combination of how bad I felt, how I was bonking, and of pushing my bike up powerline road, that made up my mind to quit the race at the next SAG, at 80 miles. I simply could not go on.

So I reached the 80 mile SAG at around 3:35pm. Just over 9 hours into the race. Scott had left that SAG about 10 minutes ahead of me, and Jason was about 25 minutes ahead of me. Lucky for me, The Gabberts were there with their car, and so I stopped, and quit.

My race was over. I wanted to cry. Actually, I did. Thankfully I was wearing my sunglasses. I had worked hard for 80 miles, and I really wanted to see the finish line, but I just couldn't. I couldn't go one more mile. So I jumped in the car and we rode to the finish line to watch the guys coming in.

The Gang...

One by one the guys started coming in. First it was F'ing Ralph (10:57). He was in great spirits. Then it was Brent (11:01). Their stories about Powerline road made me feel better, because it really was as hard, or harder, than I expected.

A little while later, Pat Reilly came in (11:41). And then it was Bob (11:51).

Jason was next (12:41). He missed the 12 hour cutoff, but he made the 13 hour finisher cut off. This was new this year. They wanted to give people an extra hour to finish the course. The didn't get the buckle, but were considered 'unofficial finishers,' and still received the finisher's medal. His stories about Powerline Road were also about how incredibly hard it was pushing the bike.

And Scott was next (13:05). Scott surprised me the most out of everyone out there today. He might not have made the 13-hour cutoff, but he finished 100 miles of the toughest bike ride in the U.S. I was happy for him. He never gave up.

The Stories....

After everyone finished we sat around sharing stories. Talking about the climbs, the brutal bike pushing, and the hairy and technical descents. Powerline Road became the topic of conversation as everyone discussed how incredibly brutal it was, both ways. We talked about the crashes (like Ralph's), the weather, and the altitude.

We all agree that we totally underestimated the race. We did not give it the respect it required. Mostly because we really didn't know what to expect, and we all thought it would be easier. None of us except for Ralph and Bob knew what the course was like, so every turn, every hill, every descent was new and unexpected.


First I want to say, that this is one of the most beautful areas in the United States. As much as I was hurting, I still enjoyed every single mile of the course. The views were fantastic. Mountains, rivers, lakes, it was simply beautiful.

The SAG stops are like none I have ever seen. Anytime you pulled into a SAG stop, a volunteer would come up to you and hold your bike for you. Another volunteer would fill up your water bottles or camelbaks while other would rush to get you any food or anything else you needed. They were awesome!

Floyd lost the race by 10 seconds to the local hero who has won the race 5 years in a row. Reports are that Floyd sucked this guy's wheel for almost the entire last 40 miles, and still was unable to beat him to the finish line. The guy that won it set a new course record, finishing in just under 7 hours. 7 hours. I can't even begin to comprehend how fast and how good those guys are. At 7 hours, most of us were still at the turnaround point (50 miles). Amazing.

On one of the steep descents, there was a guy who had crashed and broken his femur. OUCH!!! I rode by him just as the helicopter was landing to airlift him out. As I said, this is not a beginners race. If you can't handle a mountain bike, it can get pretty nasty out there.

Thank yous...

I can't even begin to tell you how great our support crew was. The Gabberts, Stacey, Nikki, and Erica were there at every SAG stop, and they helped us a lot. Even if it was just cheering us on and encouraging us, it was great to see them all through the course. They rock!!!

So that's it. I am sure the rest of the boyz will chime in with their own stories soon. For me, I was humbled by this race. It got the best of me and then some. But I will definitely be back. I will not give up until I conquer this monster.

Peace out!

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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby JohnP » Sun Aug 12, 2007 11:09 am


Great report. Thanks.

And a fantastic effort. Well done.

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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby AlliCat » Sun Aug 12, 2007 1:08 pm

Awesome stories Manny! Wish I could have been there. You did awesome! See you when you get home.

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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby Mini Manny » Sun Aug 12, 2007 2:42 pm

Amazing story Manny. Can't believe how steep those climbs are!
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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby DC » Sun Aug 12, 2007 3:30 pm

Thanks for the report, Manny. While I'd love to get some property up in Colorado in a few years; I would never ever ever want to enter that 100 mile tortuous event. All of you guys that went up there, I tip my hat to you. You have some big ole GIANT cojones, just for even doing it. Great finisher's times as well, even though I didn't win the red and blue shoes from G4M.

I did finally get a Mountain bike though (in transit), but I think I'll try Xterras first....
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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby Kate » Sun Aug 12, 2007 4:18 pm

Wow!!! Manny -- great report and incredible effort! You guys have a toughness I can only dream about. Congratulations whether you made it by bike or by car...
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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby Ian » Sun Aug 12, 2007 6:04 pm

Great report Manny. It sounds like all of you did an incredible job. Even 80 miles of that ride is harder than any road century any of us has ever seen. I was laughing so hard at your comment about not being able to take a drink because you would have to stop breathing. That would be a tough choice to make; oxygen or water?
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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby Jan » Sun Aug 12, 2007 8:35 pm

Manny, this is , certified, the best report I have read on this forum in a long time!
Congrats to everybody who went out there and gave it a try.
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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby Owlman » Sun Aug 12, 2007 9:17 pm

I finally waded through this Tome. Indeed well done, both the Sysiphean struggle and the writing itself. I left as if I were there, but glad I was not. Well done boys!
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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby Nash » Sun Aug 12, 2007 9:41 pm

Thanks for the report Manny, glad you guys survived. Did they test Floyd?
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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby Is50Fast » Mon Aug 13, 2007 11:36 am

I promise to never ever curse the Florida heat again. I love hot flat land!
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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby BB » Mon Aug 13, 2007 11:02 pm

If the Leadville race webpage is correct there were 927 registered; of that number 580 were 40+yrs of age. Very impressive for the 'boomers'...

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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby DH » Wed Aug 15, 2007 5:40 pm

Great Report Manny. Contgratulations to you and the rest of the guys that finished. I know a lot of those trails, roads and the POWERLINE, though on foot, not bike. Until you experience it, it really is hard to believe how difficult that terrain can be. You'll know what you need to do to be ready for next time. You have to go back and get a buckle, you know that, right?

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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby BrentB » Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:53 pm

We all lined up for the 6:30 start. Leadville Mayor unloads the shotgun and we are off... Manny's report is so damn good, no need to add much. But a couple of things I wanted to say...

F'n Ralph... about 2 hours into it, on the Powerline descent, I am on Ralph's wheel and can't see anything (dust, riding into sun). We are probably doing 25 or so. All of the sudden, f'n Ralph hits a dip he doesn't see, wheel goes to 90 degrees and digs in, and f'n Ralph hits hard enough to crack the shell and foam in the helmet. I bunny hop Ralph and his bike. Ok, not really, but Ralph tucks and rolls beautifully and gets up without damage to himself or the bike. It was really the worst looking crash I have ever seen live and close up. F'n Ralph doesn't even bother to dust himself off and goes on to a terrific race. I bet he was first finisher from Florida again (so what if there are only a handfull of guys from flatland). I also bet he would sniff a nine hour finish if he had more time at altitude. I checked out the splits and f'n Ralph just kept getting stronger as the day wore on. At the 60 mile stop I had 6 minutes on him. By mile 85 we were riding together. F'n Ralph... By mile 95, I was sucking my thumb trying to call my mommy and he was flying through the woods with a big ole grin, screaming ya-hoo on the final woods descent and spinning strong to the finish. Congrats Ralph, you trained hard and it all paid off. F'n Ralph...

J, Manny and Scott... I was a few minutes up the trail from Manny, Jason and Scott and saw them all on the tough Columbine climb as I headed down. I can't say they looked thrilled. What I can say is that they all gave everything they had. Congrats on a great effort. I will also say that there could not have been a better bunch of guys for Leadville Chapter One. I didn't really know Scott that well before the trip, but man did that guy just suck it up and finish. Scott is a tough cookie. I kept saying I would not do that race again from sea level, but f that. For those of you that don't know it, Jason is lining up for the 100 mile trail run on basically the same course. I think he will make the cutoff, I really do. Congrats too to Pat and Bob who both turned in great efforts and I know Bob improved greatly over last year.

The Course... I knew that 100 miles on trails all over 10,000 feet with some kind of crazy 14,000 foot elevation gain would put us in a bit of a bother. I think we all underestimated the altitude. It was brutal. For a couple of days after the race we all sounded like coal miners who smoked 2 packs of cowboy killers a day.

The Crew... I have never done a race that took that much and it was great seeing friendly faces. Thank you Nikki, Jim, Lori, Erica, Stacey, Matthew and Ashley. You guys all rock. Speaking of Nikki, she promised to do the 100 mile run with me and Jason next year. Sweet mercy. Owlman?
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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby Erica » Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:14 am

Great added report Brent! My goodness I don't think you know what you're getting yourself into with the run ;) jk I know that you guys can do and I would be more than happy to sit on the sideline again! Anyone who even thinks of doing 100 mile run is absolutely insane! After seeing a guy with a ripped IT band waddling along and finishing that was enough for me to know that I don't have it in me. The human body is amazing and can do way more than we think it can but seriously, why? Y'all are crazy and I love it! See you soon!
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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby LT » Fri Aug 24, 2007 3:07 pm

Hey Manny,
Don't know if you remember last February that I told you I had a friend doing LT100, and his PB is 8:02?
(He was with me doing the Sunday ride, but you never met him)
Well, he did it this year again but in a sinlge speed, and finished in 9:33... isn't this guy a monster or what?

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Re: Leadville - The Report

Postby Manny » Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:19 pm

LT wrote:Well, he did it this year again but in a sinlge speed, and finished in 9:33... isn't this guy a monster or what?

LT, there were four guys doing the race in single speeds! F'ing insane!!

One of them had a single speed, no suspension!!! WTF!!

I started the Columbine mine climb close to one of the them, until he dropped me.

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