Ya’ll knew it was coming.
This in from our man Snake.
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Race Report for all those who want the skinny on what really fucking happened out there for 103 miles. Yes it’s a 103 not a 100. But 103 just doesn’t seem to have the same ring to it as a 100 but I can tell you when you turn left at the bottom of the Blvd. you will swear the name of all that is Holy and pure. Sweet baby Jesus that’s a long 3 miles…
So, to the beginning: Wednesday night load the bag and then the car and head from Tucson to Flagstaff. Get there and unload and re-load into Big Jonny’s car. For all those that know him personally like I do, I have never seen him so keyed up to go to a race. He was like a little kid in a candy shop. Running around with his head cut off and his dick in his hands. Then add to that all he could say was “I’m so fucking happy that I’m not doing this race!!” over and over and over and over.
He was more excited about not doing it that I was to either do it or not to do it. So one way or the other he was like a whore looking for a fix. So wake up and hit the road on Thursday and I mean all fucking day in the car. It seems either we are stuck behind some slow ass moving car or stopped at a light somewhere. A little side note, never ever go through Farmington NM if you can help it. Stop lights for miles and I don’t think that there is a road around it. Maybe there is but I don’t know where. So just about 9 pm we arrive in some shit town just short of Buena Vista, I think it the same place where I stop every year to get a beer before I hit the Leadville town limits. But Jonny runs in for a sixer and I try and get a deli sandwich for dinner. Well we almost get shut down for beer but I definitely get shut down for the sammy. Fuck me no dinner it is and a grumpy lady working the sandwich bar gets my vote for never ever fucking coming here again. I hope that place blows up in a gas fire, but I hope that lady just gets to watch because I want her to lose the only thing she has in life. A fucking shitty job turning hungry people away.
So on to Buena Vista to have dinner on the trunk of Jonny’s car. Beers and sandwiches. Not bad but I could have had one 30 minutes earlier at the gas station. Oh well who doesn’t like eating dinner at 10 at night??? Welcome to the real life of a wannabe almost never will make it cyclist… Big Jonny kept saying all day “I’m so fucking happy that I’m not doing this race!!” All day, all night!!! Unreal. So pull into Leadville at the campground. Unload and get to sleep. Which I might add is cold compared to Tucson. I wake up around 3 am with frozen head. You know what I’m talking about when you go camping and your in your mummy bag and everything is peachy fine then your head feels like an ice cube and your body is sweating ‘cuz your so hot??? Yeah you know what I’m talking about. Then from across the camper I hear in a muffled voice, I’m so glad I’m not doing this race!!! Fuck man shut the hell up. We all know your not doing it so just go to sleep!!!
Friday wake up frozen. Then go to packet pick up and medical check in. No worries there (I am allergic to bee stings though) but all goes smooth. I get to see many people who are there for the first time and look nervous. I can just tell by the look of some people that are willing to accept the pain of a ride or not. Me, yes, I like the pain, Big Jonny not so much. So one thing of note is how many people are there, its like a zoo, I’m like what the fuck where are all these people coming from and why are they here…. Oh yeah Floyd is supposed to be here and so is that other guy Lance… So whatever they will get what’s coming to them tomorrow if they show… So then back to the campsite with my number plate and goodie bag.
The goodie bag at Leadville is a good one. You get a duffle bag with a shirt and a ton of stuff for the race, gu, advil, chapstick, twist ties and all of that. So a good thing to give to mum. She likes that sort of stuff. So then off to pre ride. I see that Big Jonny has some photos of the lake. It’s a cool ride around Turquoise Lake that I do every year before the race. So is a ritual now. So out of the campsite and up the hill to the lake. On the way there two guys come off the decent and zoom by us. One of them is Floyd. Oh well looks like he is really here. Big Jonny takes a shit in his shorts and cant believe that he is really there.
So around the lake and up to the secret spot where the raspberries are every year and we are shut out. I think that there must have been a frost or the berries are a little late but no berries for me this year. So then back to camp for a nap, then dinner then making sure the bike is in order. So with all that done I head off to bed. For this year I didn’t really get into the race at all. Nothing, I didn’t really care one way or the other. I just wanted to show up and get it done, nothing special. So I haven’t had a problem worrying or anything. But that night I started to think and think and think about it. Needless to say a sleepless night of tossing and turning.
The alarm goes off at 4:15 am. Time to eat some food. Hmmmm, how about a chocolate muffin and a cold cup of coffee. Fine, just fine. I have always been really luck with an iron stomach. I think you need one to be a good cyclist. You need to be able to eat anything at anytime no matter what. So down the hatch it went. So suit up and get ready for the lonely ride up the pavement to the start. So sort of a weird experience this year for me. Riding at 5:45 alone in the dark to the start. It is cold as hell, and I don’t want to really be there anymore. Doubt starts to creep in my mind and I just really want to go back and go back to bed. This has been a common thing here in my training as of late. Not wanting to ride much, wanting to sleep in, maybe it’s the 33 days of over 100 degree heat here in Tucson…. Fucking fry my brain. Either that or the 50 or so odd days of racing that I have had already… So two tears in a bucket, fuck it. Its race time so stop your bitching its time to break some legs.
The ride from the campsite to the start is a good 20 minutes in the cold. A good warm up for the 3 mile moto pace session that is the start of the race. So to the line I go. I get there and I am allowed to start in the very front due to my 2nd place last year. That’s good. (if anyone who reads this knows Ted Mc Blain tell him to get better with the broken leg #3 last year) He is a good guy and I missed him this year. So a zoo ensues at the start line when Floyd shows up. People are climbing the walls trying to get a photo with him and of him. I stay out of the way because no one cares about 2nd place. (Remember that Floyd no one remembers second!) So then they start the race with a shotgun and we are off.
Here is what it looks like: video.google.com I have never seen the race like this. But this is some serious riders!!!! (Editors note: Snake has never finished lower than 5th. Never seen the back of the race. Second twice, third three times, fifth once. Me? 150th and 313th.)
Off we go. The car pulls off early this year, which is good. Dave goes to the front and sets a really good pace. I just sit in on 2nd wheel and we take the right onto the dirt. Then from there Nat Ross takes a pull that has everyone strung out. When he tries to pull off Dave doesn’t really let him so then I just go for it. From there I go solo up the road. Just like Chopper Read says, “Harden the fuck up!” So, up St Keivens climb. I get caught about half a mile from the top with the group that is the “group” Wiens, Floyd, Mike Kloser, the Kid and Bryson P. From there we gun it. I get popped from my first effort. No problem because it’s a 7 hour race. Lots of miles to go. Just stay steady and Ill catch back on.
Over the top and down the pavement. I get caught right before the pavement by K. Wilson. He is the 2000 winner. The guy is about 48 now I think but shit he can turn a pedal. So off we go in hot pursuit. So up the road I see Floyd messing around and off the back of the group. Turns out he fell and now has a boo boo on his hip. So he looks back and chases back on to the group. Kevin and I hit the next climb and I can tell something is up. He isn’t going as hard as he usually does so I say oh well and gun it trying to get to the front group. I don’t make it but I do drop Kevin (this is weird because that guy can climb) So I go down the rutted out Powerline climb and my buddy Chucky catches up to me. Turns out I’m a climber now and not a descender. So we start to work together. Usually Chucky can motor and today he just tells me that he isn’t feeling it so he cant pull so hard or he is going to get dropped. I say ok sit on and I’ll try and get us across the gap. About 40 seconds. One working against six isn’t in my favor so I pull but not so hard. I tell Chucky that I would rather ride with him then go up there and get drilled. So we ride through the first checkpoint back @40 seconds, no worries plenty of time.
We keep going, and sure as shit on a shingle we come around a corner and there they are. I wait till a smaller climb and drop Chucky and bridge to the lead group. No one is pulling that hard and Bryson hasn’t taken a pull all day from what Dave said. So I go up near the front and ask Floyd about his hip, it goes like this…
Hey man is that your bad hip? No, man, it’s all good now. Yeah, it doesn’t look so good now… end of conversation.
Well I say to myself if he isn’t talking then its time to attack. So I launch a good one and get a good gap. I’m out there for a minute and here comes Floyd dragging everyone up to me. Oh well I say….I will wait and try again. More slowing and no pulling happenings so I launch again. Floyd brings me back again. So I say third time is a trick and I let it rip. On the down hill…… Fuck being a climber I want the glory of the DH. So I shred it like a head of lettuce. I’m running 29er bike by these guys voodoocycles.net
Lets just say I can put the wood to someone on a 26 on the DH….. Example: Kevin on the power line decent is gone. Chucky makes it to me on a 29er…. You do the math…. So I rip into the 2nd feed at twin lakes with about a 30 second lead… Floyd chasing as usual… Makes me think he is working for Wiens…So they catch me on the climb to Columbine…. About a 1:15 min climb for me every year. Yeah that’s right hour and 15 min climb to 12,600 feet. If you think you’re a hard man and you can climb, then come one and come all to do this bitch. You will prolly beat me in doing so but whatever, get off your ass and stop talking about it and do it. Or just harden the fuck up which ever comes first.
Up the climb we go. I get dropped like a brick in a pool, Wiens and Floyd together, Kloser and the Kid, Bryson and I… So near the top Bryson drops saying he has cramps and wants to wait for his dad and brother. Honorable thing considering Bryson has won this thing 3 times I think…. So I get passed by a train of guys about 2 miles from the top. I think ok no worries plenty of time to catch back up. Because in Leadville its all about the second half. Everyone can race for 4 hours. But who can race for 7 is the key…
Off the decent back to the feed station. I absolutely take every chance I can and stay on the road some how and catch 2 guys. Go through the feed zone and my crew tells me two more guys up the road about 30 seconds but they are working together. So I go like hell. (I sold a kidney right there….) I’m in the race about 4.5 hours at this point. So I bridge to two teammates working together.
I get there, one of these guys has crashed and his front derailleur is broke so he can only use the middle ring. The other guy is pulling for him and he doesn’t look happy. So I ask him a simple question. Do you know the time splits for going under 8 hours?? He replies with a disgusted answer no…. So at this point I was going to help but now I just want to make this bitch suffer and his friend too…. So the last 8-10 years I have raced a ton of road bikes and have been taught by the best in the business on how to make a bitch suffer…. So I start to pull these guys. Just hard enough to make the guy on the back who has crashed come off about 20 feet because he is in the middle chain ring and the guy who is a bitch is now on my wheel.
I pull off he starts to pull not knowing that his buddy is chasing madly behind trying to get on. So I jump back in the draft. Operation fuck these guys is in full effect. What I have done here is dropped the crashed guy and now his buddy is pulling me away from him and doing damage do his own buddy. Word to the wise, be nice or I will fuck your world up.
I have these two teammates split up and now the one is pulling me away from his now flailing buddy. So when he sits up to let me pull I attack. Classic strategy. As I go away he has a decision to make. Go with me or wait for his buddy how is now way back…. So he is no longer a problem and now is gone with his buddy. Off to the races.
I mean just be nice, we are all out there together. If you can’t be nice to me then reap what you sow.
So, off to the Powerline climb. From my experience this is what makes or breaks your race. If you have a good day you will make it up this climb fine and be home free in an hour, if your having a bad day then get ready to suffer like you never have before. It’s hot, steep and long. It’s got some false summits that really break people.
This year it was good to me. A couple of gels and some water and I’m good all the way. Turns out that I’m in 5th now and that’s were I will finish. Grab a coke at the last feed stop and I’m on my way. So 5th it is at 7 hours 34 minutes or something like that. People ask me all the time what I think about during the race because its so long. Well here goes. Don’t be afraid to attack the front group. You never know what will happen. Obviously I got dropped but its better to try and fail then just there and get dropped later.
I think about food. Mainly salty stuff at the end of the race. French fries with salt always comes to mind. Life, where do I go from here, am I doing the right thing? I think about the hurt I’m going through, no so much about I need to stop hurting but rather it hurts and this is bike racing so get on with it. The faster I go the faster I get done. At some points I’m really into the pain other times not so much. I think about all the times that I lost races because I was too big or too tall or not a good enough climber so it makes me go faster on the flats and the descents. I think about the time I would have won the race in 2002 had I not flatted. It pisses me off so I go even harder. I think about economy. What can I do to be pushing the max watts and yet still have enough in the tank for the last 4,000 feet of climbing. Just random stuff I guess.
So that’s Leadville in a nutshell. Obviously there is a lot more that goes on in a 7.5 hour race. Near misses and almost crashes and endos. But all in all I had a good ride there last Saturday. Nothing really remarkable and nothing really bad, just the blah of sitting in the saddle and hammering the day away. I know that I’m not world class like Wiens, Floyd, or Kloser, but I can go with them for a little while. Pretty much the story of my career, bridesmaid and never the bride. So there you all go, hope you enjoyed it as much as I didn’t.