Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Leadville Silver Rush 50 Race Report

By Jon Maule (@jonmaule)

Last year I wanted a mulligan on my LT100 attempt, knowing I could have finished under the time limit – I was among the first five stopped at the last cutoff with ~25miles to go.  Not being selected for the lottery this Spring, I had to either race my way in (not likely) or hang around and snag one of the ~100 tokens available.

The Leadville Race series events are very well run and schwag abounds with vendors taking advantage of the big draws.  I scored two cups of coffee and a muffin while checking in which was a lifesaver as the Copper Mountain gas station wasn’t yet open.  I passed through too early opting go cheap and get some decent sleep in a familiar bed à get up at butt-crack for the ~2hr drive to Leadtucky. 

I did this race last year and crumbled in the second half of the course coming in at 6:56.  This year I had a target of 6hrs with a stretch goal of 5:30 for the 48miles and ~7.5k of climbing.  Previewing the course last weekend I decided to run a Maxxis Ardent 2.4 up front (~25#) and a Geax Saguaro 2.2 (~28#) as there was enough loose stuff, baby heads and moon dust that my regular setup (Ardent 2.25 and Geax aka2.2) was occasionally washing out at tempo pace.  With this being an out and back course I didn’t want to ruin anyone else’s day let alone my own.

The race starts off with a run up a short ski hill (about 50yards).  Nothing like sprinting uphill at ~9k ft with your bike and 600+ of your friends to get you anaerobic.  I lined up towards the back and walked instead, probably ending up in about the same relative place had I decided to run.  After that the course begins a reasonably graded 10 mile climb topping out at ~11,600 largely on jeep roads followed by a descent to an aid station at 13.5 miles.  This part went well, I felt strong on the climb, made some moves to get around slow people and did a decent job pacing at what seems like an underwhelming 177w average (np = 216w).  This section includes about 13 minutes of hiking and I arrived at Aid#1 right around my target of 1:30.

[caption id="attachment_1490" align="aligncenter" width="492"]Course Profile Course profile and aid station locations[/caption]

From Aid#1 (aka Printerboy – named for a nearby mine) to the turnaround at Aid#3 (aka Stumptown – a small “town”, now a ghost town, serving the surrounding mines) is roughly another 1.5 hrs away and involves a two trips at or near 12k on loose jeep roads.  My big tires paid dividends on the rideable sections here, particularly the descent off the high point, but there was a lot of hiking here too.

[caption id="attachment_1491" align="aligncenter" width="582"]Strava Report Strava report[/caption]

I was at Stumptown in around 3hrs, the bulk of the climbing (~4k) was done and I felt I might be able to come close to my stretch goal of 5.5hrs…

The reverse of the section above involves a 20+ minute hike (going back up the loose, rutted 15+% slopes), the downhill as you head West and then another hiking section that took me a ~13 minutes – this is where I had some trouble.  I kept getting rocks in my damn shoes.  Not small ones you can sort of work around but pointy almost crippling ones.   I stopped at least 3 times here to try to get the stuff out and cinch up my shoe to maybe keep stuff out.  Annoying as hell.  I arrived back at Printerboy/Aid#1 for some refreshments about 20 min behind where I wanted to be for the final real uphill grind (~3 miles and 1k). 

The final section is a 10.5 mile downhill section, losing ~2.1k feet but with a handful of short punchy climbs.  Again my tire choice came in handy as I used my gravity assisted mass to (safely/politely) pass people like mad still clinging to the possibility of finishing in under 6hrs

[caption id="attachment_1498" align="aligncenter" width="587"]Strava Report Strava Report, part 2[/caption]

I ended up clocking 6:06 on my garmin.  Not quite where I wanted but I know 5:45 was within reach.  Anyhow, ended up with a 6:15 “official” time as apparently they base timing off of the shotgun and not when you cross the timing mat. Regardless, that was good enough for 41 minutes off of last years meltdown.

Details:  TP File | Strava

Takeaways:

Fueling – I’m digging the combo of Chews and Enduro bites with lower strength skratch (probably ~75% strength).  Except when you eat the whole enduro bite at once, that seems to get… …gassy.  Very quickly.  Always a great feeling.

Weight – I still weigh too much at ~180# for climbing events.  What’s it like to ride near the front where you don’t have to dodge as many triathletes on mountain bikes?

Fitness – Thanks to Brad I came into this season with a pretty big base.  This year I’ve expanded a bit on that and am at (or close to) the point where I can actually “race” these events.  Enough so that I felt great the next day save for some slight fatigue (riding for 6hrs duh) and calf cramping from the long downhill.  No more “wiped out for days” feeling like I had last year.  It feels awesome!

LT100 – I just didn’t feel like doing it so I skipped out on the post-race ceremonies, opting instead for Carnitas Tacos and Margs at La Rev with my wife as a recovery meal.  The opportunity came up to do the Laramie Enduro in two weeks and the Dakota Five O at the end of Aug.  Maybe LT100 is in store for next year, maybe never…

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