Sunday, July 14, 2013

Race Report: Leadville Silver Rush 50 by Jon Maule (@JonMaule)

Climbing, not exactly my forte.  I'm not a skinny climber type by ANY stretch of the imagination.  This course (per my Garmin) mapped out at 47.5 miles and 7,300 ft of climbing and it's an out and back course, which pretty much sucks for biking, but it kinda gives you a clue that you're either going up or down with very little if any "flat" parts.  If there is any upside for me its that that much climbing means there is also 7,300 ft of descending.  Unfortunately that part goes waaaaaaaaay too quick comparatively.  My purpose in these types of events isn't really to race, it's more to survive.  to not DNF or DFL.

I'd ridden the outbound portion last weekend and at 3:30 at low tempo with a couple of back tracks, I thought bumping it up a notch, I could come closer to 3 hours out bound and 3 hrs back giving me a target somewhere around 6:30, hoping for less but...

While most of this race takes place on fire roads and mining trails, there is enough technicality to the descents that I rode reasonably aggressive tires - Ardent 2.3 up front and Ignitor 2.25 out back.  In addition to the loose dirt and large rocks, you have to evade people who can climb but have NO descending skills.  I'm not a professional descender by any means but I am aggressive and need to take advantage of my weight

Anyhow, as you're aware it is Monsoon Season here in the great state of Colorado.  I'd arrived Friday, escaping the heat and trading it for 58 degrees and rain.  Thankfully most of the rain around Leadville missed the course but man was it humid.  The race starts at 9am which is odd given the time of year.  Generally you don't want to be hanging out around 12k ft much past noon.  Thankfully, the skies were clear in the AM, temps in the 60's and high humidity.

This race has an odd "tradition" of running up about 100ft of Dutch Henri Hill at the very beginning.  With 800+ people this was sure to be a cluster#$%$ and it was.

On to the riding, the race pretty much starts with a couple of meandering miles and then quickly begins an 8 mile climb of about 2k ft.  About 3 miles (downhill) after the apex, there is an aid station.  I'd targeted being there at about 1:40 but despite having my HR about 10% higher, it took longer this week as I made the Printer Boy aid station in 1:50.  Kinda disappointing but all you can do is hope to get stronger as the race progresses.

I'll skip a bit.  There was quite a bit of hike a bike as you have to weigh the effort required to clean a section with how many matches that will use up.  At that altitude (IME) you have fewer matches than you'd ordinarily have.  What I will say is that even though most of this race was on fire roads or  mining trails, the countryside is freaking beautiful.  Snowcapped peaks to the East & West, wildflowers going off and a metric butt ton of old mining ruins.  The turn around is at a place called Stumptown and there have to be more mining ruins per square mile at Stumptown than anywhere else.  While they do scar up the landscape, the multicolored tailings piles have a neat contrast with the green of the remaining forest.  It's a pretty neat place.

I ended up finishing in 6:56.  Much slower than I'd hoped but realistically I just couldn't have gone much faster this weekend.  That time should move me up to the 4th or 5th corral for the Pb 100 the second week of August.

Both my buddy Jonathan and Ciro received slots for the 100.  I have no idea what time Ciro finished in but dude was FLYING.

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