When it rains it pours and I have been riding a wave of good fortune and form lately. This weekend I won my second Leadville 100 title in my fastest time yet under windy conditions. I’ll get to all that but it’s been over 3 weeks since I last updated the blog.
After XC Nationals and two weeks on the east coast at sea level I came back to Durango to prepare for Leadville three weeks later. Three weeks isn’t much time to switch from 1:30 race training for 6 hr+ racing but that’s what the time frame called for. I had five days of rest and then started to build up for Leadville so really I had 14 days of specific prep. The first step of my training my was making the jump from 6,500 in Durango up to Breckenride where our house sat 10,000 ft and the rest of Specialized team was there preparing for the race.
It was tough to leave the family at home but the setup Specialized had for us in Breck was top notch with our Swiss soigner Christine and a stand in mechanic and former World Cup race Sivio Bundi also making the trip over. All we had to do was ride and everything else was taken care of, they even cooked us amazing meals every night. The hardest thing was not to eat too much since it was soooo good.
We did have an amazing setup in Breck and the mountain biking there is incredible but the weather left something to be desired. Typical August weather in CO is bluebird mornings, clouds early afternoon and thunderstorms late. We had rain almost everyday, all day, all week in Breck with high temps some days barely cracking the 50 degree barrier. After a week of sloshing around logging in some big hours and spending the rest of the time at the coffee shop and sleeping we loaded everything up and moved over to Copper.
Copper is about 30 minutes away from Leadville and 30 minutes closer then Breckenridge. The best part of moving to Copper was that Meg and Coopoer had moved up to Vail for the week and were also only 30 minutes away so I got to spend some time with this guy.
Saturday morning finally rolled around and we all woke up sometime around four to get ready for our 6:30 AM start. I much prefer to race early then late but 6:30 is even a little early for me. The thing about racing so early at high altitude is the temperature goes from 30 something at the start to over 70 by mid-day. That means we start with tons of clothes and constantly peel them off through out the day.
The race started and as soon as we hit the first climb Topeak’s Kritian Hyneck set a strong temp and we were down to six at the top of the climb. After the descent off the climb we were down to a group of four but then Chad Byer rejoined the group before coming off on the descent down power line. Susi also flatted going down power line so when we hit the pavement after only twenty miles it was just Alban, Hyneck and I. Luckily our teammate Franti wasn’t too far behind and gave Susi his wheel so he could get going again. The group got even smaller when Alban flatted around mile 25 between pipe line and twin lakes aid stations.
I stayed glued to Hyneck’s wheel up Columbine just about until we hit the tree line and I just couldn’t follow anymore. By the time I hit the top he had put 1:45 into me. I closed it to 50 seconds on the descent but as soon as we hit the road again he opened it back up and by the time we hit power line going back I was 3:45 down. It was a block headwind heading back and I was glad I chose to ride with the special aero skin suit and evade helmet the team had for us. I also knew that Susi and Alban were riding together and at the top of Columbine were about 4 minutes back so I figured they were probably gaining time on me working together.
I was almost to the bottom of power line when I saw a guy up the road and couldn’t believe when i saw it was Hyneck. He had completely detonated and couldn’t even jump in my slipstream when I passed him tucking down the hill. This is about 3o seconds after I passed him for the lead.
From there I had the lead with just one climb to go and the long drag into the finish. I didn’t have any time checks but I knew Hyneck was done for the day and I would just have to worry about Susi and Alban coming from behind. Sure enough with less then 2 miles to go I could see a red jersey chasing me down in the distance and by the time I got to the finish I only had an 18 second advantage over Susi. Just enough!
I decided to run the Epic this year because the course was a bit rougher then in the past and I was hoping the full suspension would help save some energy for power line on the way back. I ran the front shock at 80 mm down from 100 mm with 120 psi and the rear at 135 psi. I used S-works Renegade tires front and rear with 27/29. Finally I ran a 32 XX1 front chainring because I was worried about the top of Columbine and power line coming back. I I did miss the bigger gear coming back to town but was nice to pedal a bit higher cadence up the climbs. I would probably use a 34 next time. I used road pedals and shoes because they are lighter, have a more stable platform and are more aero then MTB pedals/shoes. I ran some bar tape on the inside of brake levers to cushion my forearms when riding in the aero position. I used the Evade helmet and a special skin suit the wind tunnel guys at Specialized designed for us to hide form the wind as much as possible.
Finally i can’t thank the team enough, Christine, Bundi and Eric did a great job taking care of us both leading up to and during the race. ET and JB were our film/photo crew for the week and most of these photos are courtesy of them. It was also great hanging out with Susi and Franti for the past few weeks making the time fly by. Of course having Coop and Meg at the finish line didn’t hurt either.
I wonder how the Breck Epic is going……