The weather the week leading up to Leadville wasn’t the best. It rained most of the week and on Wednesday there was fresh snow in the mountains when the clouds finally lifted. All that rain made for the best course conditions I have ever seen in Leadville. Saturday morning we awoke to blue sky(after it got light out) and some of the warmest temperatures of the week. That isn’t to say it was warm, it was 36 degrees at the start and after descending for 3 miles we rode into a low sitting fog before we finally started climbing.
Once we started climbing things warmed up and just like 2 years ago when I raced Alban hit St Kevens and when we got to the top there were only 2 of us left, Susi and me. We rolled it together all the way out to Columbine and I knew I was in trouble b/c I could barely hold the wheels the whole way up. I would yoyo on and off and after a few miles of climbing Susi informed us that we were 4 minutes up on record pace. That is pretty incredible considering when the old record was set we rode out to Columbine in a group of close to 10 so we were going fast but not working that hard.
I somehow managed to make it to the top with the guys and going up I thought Susi was riding stronger then Alban. Back down and heading over to Pipline and Powerline I was dying and when Alban would pull through on the slightly downhill road sections I would have to tuck and pedal just to stay in the draft. I felt like I was motopacing.
When we finally made it to Powerline the lights went completely out and I went from racing to just trying to finish. I knew I wasn’t on the best day from the start but in such a long race sometimes you come good at the end. I had the opposite, I could fake it in the beginning but couldn’t do anything on Powerline at the end. I watched Alban ride away and Susi chase him and then they were gone. I rode the first 80 miles nearly 15 minutes faster then I ever have in the past and the last 24 slower then I ever have. If you want to win you have to give it everything so I wouldn’t do it any differently.
Alban smashed the record by over 12 minutes and Susi was close behind just a minute or so down. I on the other hand came in way back but still good enough for 3rd and bettered my best time by over 2 minutes. I didn’t have much time to reflect on the race b/c Christine (Specialized Swanny) and I had to jump straight into the car and head to Breckenridge to make it to registration and rider meeting for the Breck Epic starting the next day. Eric the mechanic wasn’t far behind and also met up with us later that night.
It was a whirlwind but the next morning I didn’t feel to bad and it was much nicer starting at 8:30 then 6:30. We also start in the sun with a neutral roll out so we didn’t even need to wear arm warmers at the start. I wasn’t sure how I would go but pretty quickly I found myself in a group with “The German” and Alex Grant. We had some really steep climbing and midway through we were able to get rid of the German. Alex and I rode together for the whole race and I managed to get in front of him before the downhill to the finish so I was able to get the W and take the leader’s jersey. You can see how there was no passing before this finish line.
Today’s stage was awesome. We spent a lot of time on the Colorado Trail and hit plenty of other buttery single track. The rain we got last night made the trails perfect and I made it in just before a thunderstorm today. Alex and I duked it out again today, I think he had a slow leak and had to hit it with a CO2 and get some more air in the aid station but he came back to me on the descent on the Colorado Trail. We rode together until 4 mile from the end when I was able to put in a surge and get away again. I also gained 1:45 on him which is good but with days like tomorrow’s, 7,000 ft of climbing in 38 miles anything can happen.
I wonder if the Schmooz made his connection today…..