Leadville Trail 100 Tahoe Qualifier Race Report

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The stars aligned this year to see about doing the Leadville Trail 100 bike race and start to explore the world of marathon mountain bike racing, with an eye towards someday doing one of the big multi-day stage race epics.   A qualifying race for the LT 100 was happening in North Tahoe, and I figured if I qualified cool, if not that would tell me something too.  So after a great June series of road racing my gaze went dirtward.  

The race was a great experience, 60+ miles of fun riding, mostly fireroad w/ some fun singletrack mixed in, well supported and organized and really turned out to be a ‘destination event’ with folks from all over the region and even country.  Many actually already had spots in the LT100 and were doing the race for training.  

Here is my summary:

Conrad, Jesse and I warmed up a road too far and almost missed the start.  Of course those dudes got (well deserved) call ups to the front, and I started at the back of the 300 ish person field.  I felt good on the first lap and finished it in the top 20.  About a quarter of the way into the second lap I was still feeling good and dreaming of an age group podium and belt buckle, when I suffered the most serious mechanical bike issue I’ve ever had on a mountain bike mid-ride — let alone in a race.  My drivetrain siezed and I of course stopped pedaling.  Somehow my rear D cable housing had failed or been introduced into the front chainrings, w/ the result a crazy birdsnest of shifter cable wrapped up in my front d and front rings.  The force on that cable when it got caught in the front rings ripped the rear d sideways bending the hanger like soft cheese so the rear d was literally laying against/parallel to the rear cassette.  I tried to chill out and analyze what to do to get the bike ridable, but really thought my race (and LT 100 bid) were out the window.  After a few minutes I was able to get the cable birds nest disentangled from the front d and rings and tried to bend/pull/manipulate it out of the way so at least the front of the drivetrain could turn over w/out catching in the nest of mangled cable. Then the focus was to the rear d.  Well, thank goodness I’ve seen folks do torturous things to a rear d and rear d hanger — I knew if I could get it somewhat straightened and aligned maybe I could have a single speed and at least try to finish.  The reefing and
cranking I put on that thing was serious, I expected the whole shebang to blow apart at any moment.  But it didn’t, and low and behold I had a giganticly geared single speed, like huge track bike gearing or something.  But, at least I could ride the flats/downs and grind slight ups, dismounting on almost anything uphill.  I made it to the aid station 5 miles later, where a field medic I mean mechanic took over.  I asked if he could maybe zip tie the birds nest out of the way so I could get a three speed w/ the front rings/d in effect, and lube/straighten/etc. on the rear. He was awesome.  I was able to 3-speed ride almost the rest of the race, albeit grinding and walking some ups, and freespinning many flats/downs, with the chain constantly jumping around between a few of the cogs on the rear d.  Sorry to anyone around me on the trail, I was humming the sanford and son theme somewhere between junkyard and singlespeeder!  

But I finished.  On the plus side I ended up 23rd overall, and 7th in my age group, good enough for a qualifying spot.  On the “woulda shoulda” front, I was off the bike w/ the mechanical a combined 17 minutes, and my time minus 17 minutes (and a start at the back penalty and suboptimally geared bike for most of the 2nd lap?) puts me on the age group podium and gets me a belt buckle.  Oh well, like in life, no excuses in bike racing, and if you can’t make it about the journey vs. the goal well you’re probably already living in a TS Elliot poem.   And besides, maybe that 17 minute off the bike lets me rest/recover in a way that I would not have could not have otherwise?  Whatever, the motivation for sub 9 hour at LT 100 is high, no excuses.  Jesse was 2nd and Conrad 7th, those dudes are amazing and inspiring, no excuses.  

Links:
Strava / GPS Route / Race Stats: http://app.strava.com/rides/1010421#

Post Race Shot of Zip Tied Birds Nest Rear D Cable:

The Goal, But Not the Journey (Sub 9 Hour Finisher Gold Buckle)

— 

Andy Scott | 140 Proof | http://140proof.com | mobile: 415-509-5915 | @andyscott999

 

4th of July Dirt Ride

There are three beautiful bridges on the Donner Lake Rim Trail climbing out of Negro Canyon towards Summit Lake.  Every time I would pass over I always thought wow, these bridges are nice…maybe more than is necessary (overbuilt?) but I’m not complaining, these are really nice.  Well, shows you what I know.  Which is nothing.  Maybe this was some kinda Black Swan winter but this thing is munched!  Should be an awesome Good Dirty Fun or other trail work project… fwiw the bridge appears totally stable, even in its compromised state.  But keep in mind what I said above (about not knowing anything ;-)

In other news, the trail is like disappearing with the mad foliage bursting forth.  Gonna have to bring my machete next time, Danger Island style.  Its gorgeous out there, and the trail is clear from the I-80 interchange trailhead to Summit Lake and the Tahoe Donner (Glacier Way) trailhead too…couple of minor snow field and fallen tree crossings, but friendly to all comers.  Summer is here, could be short, go get some.

For more information on weekly trail crews heading out, check out http://www.truckeetrails.org — the Good Dirty Fun program features crews heading out every wedn eve, followed by all evening happy hour at Cottonwood.  Join the Truckee Trails mailing list to get the latest on trail conditions and trailhead meet-ups.  All at the website link above . . .

4th of July Dirt Ride

Nature 1, ManBridge Zero. (www.truckeetrails.org)

There are three beautiful bridges on the Donner Lake Rim Trail climbing out of Negro Canyon towards Summit Lake.  Every time I would pass over I always thought wow, these bridges are nice . . . maybe more than is necessary (overbuilt?) but I’m not complaining, these are really nice.  Well, shows you what I know.  Which is nothing.  Maybe this was some kinda Black Swan winter but this thing is munched!  Should be an awesome Good Dirty Fun or other trail work project . . . fwiw the bridge appears totally stable, even in its compromised state.  But keep in mind what I said above (about not knowing anything ;-)

 

In other news, the trail is like disappearing with the mad foliage bursting forth.  Gonna have to bring my machete next time, Danger Island style.  Its gorgeous out there, and the trail is clear from the I-80 interchange trailhead to Summit Lake and the Tahoe Donner (Glacier Way) trailhead too . . . couple of minor snow field and fallen tree crossings, but friendly to all comers.  Summer is here, could be short, go get some.

 

Leesville Gap M123 35+

Two years ago this was one of my first bike races.  I couldn’t believe we were racing on dirt, gravel and blown apart roads (chip sealed to death, plenty of fresh potholes, “California Pave”!)  Then I did Challenge, Copperopolis, etc. and stopped freaking out about breaking bikes, wheels or flatting, and really started to enjoy these tough courses in their own way.
Anyway, I knew I’d be racing w/out teammates, and half the field would be iron data dudes (all strong, and good dudes, just a lot of them relative to small-ish fields of 25/30 guys), and I just didn’t want to deal w/ any tactics or road racing hooh hah at the expense of a steady and hard 3 hour workout.  So I decided a couple days before the race I was going to attack from the gun and very likely ride by myself until, who knows.  A new experience for me, just go ride off the front and see what happens.  I saw it was gonna be 100 degrees, hmm.  Whatever.  I guess that will tell me something too.
So, attacked (well, just kind of tempo’d) off the front after the neutral roll out.  Rode steady and alone for 50 minutes or so off the front and through much of the crappy road section.  Boy it was getting hot.  Or I was sweating a lot.  HR was starting to get up there and power was flaggin a bit.  HEAT?  Got caught just before the climb, of course, and was subsequently tailed off the selection half way up.  Kept riding alone, at 30 seconds gap, for 15 miles.  Couldn’t close it. Power and HR were all out of whack now . . . so I can review:  Overheat and redline, there is not going back to efficient power.  Must lock this in for endurance mt biking events to come.  Digression.    Brain was melting at 90 minutes.  Rode alone through the finish.  Raced alone for 95% of this race, got 6th.  Good experience.
Incidentally, “Ticks and Leaches” by Tool  reverberated through my heat induced hallucinations during the last 30 minutes of the race.  I love that song.  Add it to your interval mix, for reals.  “Is this what you wanted?  Is this what you had in mind?  Well this is what you’re getting.” Trust me. Two times straight through and complete if you are new.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RelR85j09XY
Finally, I caught this unique bike transport on the drive home.  Burning Man is not for two months man!  I enjoyed thinking about which Marc Pro – Strava dude was most and least likely to ever be rocking this set-up.   Votes?
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