20080809

Location =  Leadville CO  
Distance =  1:05.70
Time =  11:06:21
Ave. Speed =  9.5
Max. Speed =  38.5
Monthly Dist. =    239.28
Yearly Dist. =  2675.61

RACE DAY!

I woke up early, had my customary bowl of raisin bran, and then headed out to Sixth and Harrison for the start of the race. I took a spot near the back of the field where the slower racers are expected to be, since I had no intention of starting out fast. I've always been a slow starter, and I didn't want to get in the way of people who really wanted to race. It was a cool morning, with temps in the 40s. I started out wearing my arm warmers, leg warmers, and my windbreaker. It worked out pretty well, because the day never got very warm, and I didn't have to take anything off during the whole ride.

The starting gun went off precisely at 6:30am, and the race was on! These pictures on race day were taken by Mrs. Cooldust, who provided excellent race day support, and without whose help, none of this would be possible.

A police escort led the race out of town to the railroad tracks, and then the climbing began as we headed up St. Kevins. The pace was moderate at first, as I was back with the slower riders. We descended around Turquoise Lake, and then began the climb up Sugarloaf. The descent down Powerline followed, and at one spot a guy fell down, and started to create a bottleneck. I called out, "On your left," to get around him, and after calling out a second time, he stopped and I managed to squeeze by with inches to spare. There was another little bottleneck at the creek crossing, and then it was in to the Pipeline aid station for the first rest stop. I sucked down a Gatorade, ate a power bar, and then it was back on the bike.

The ride to Twin Lakes goes over the North Face which is a short, very steep downhill section. Lots of riders dismount and walk down the North Face, but it's not really that bad. The trail is full of deep soft dirt, but it isn't rocky, and I made my way through all of the walkers and headed down to the road. I pulled in to the Twin Lakes aid station, where my able crew was waiting with water, Gatorade, and more power bars.

Now the real fun begins, with the big climb up to Columbine Mine at 12,600 feet. I passed Doug at the start of the climb, who was stopped at the bottom, and adjusting his clothing. The uphill climb began, and it wasn't very long before the sounds of "Rider Up," were heard, and the two leaders, Dave Wiens and Lance Armstrong, came flying down the mountain. Here is a picture of Dave and Lance as they passed through Twin Lakes on the way back. This is a good picture of Lance as he came through.

About two miles from the top, the road gets steeper, and a lot rockier, and its time to walk. A long procession of riders pushing their bikes snakes its way to the top, with a little bit of riding mixed in with a lot of walking. I didn't stop at the top. I made the turn and then began the descent back down to Twin Lakes. I came down the rocky sections carefully, and when I saw my chance I let go of the brakes and started passing the more timid riders. The ride down was a blast. I tried to stay in control, because I didn't want to die, but there was one curve that was pretty exciting. I had a very skinny rear tire, and it went sliding across the road in the gravel due to excessive speed, but I didn't fall. Phew! I pulled back into Twin Lakes where I stopped again for a short break, before getting right back on the bike and heading back to the Pipeline.

The cruise back to Pipeline was very fast, except for the walk back up the North Face. Everyone has to walk up that stretch, even Dave and Lance. I got some more water at Pipeline, and sucked down another Gatorade, but my stomach didn't feel like it wanted any more food. That was a mistake, because I ended up feeling very weak for the final stretch back to town. Before that, I still had to climb the dreaded Powerline.

I headed out of Pipeline, and I was on my own. I began the climb up the Powerline, and I did pretty well on it. I was glad that I had pre-ridden it, because I knew exactly what I had to do. About halfway up the climb it started to rain, and I was thinking that I had made a mistake not exchanging my windbreaker for my raincoat, but the rain quit after about fifteen minutes, before I became too wet and cold. I cruised down Sugarloaf, and then I was back on the road, and headed around Turquoise Lake. There was a long grind up the road, and then it was back up and over St. Kevins. I had to walk a couple of spots on St. Kevins, and I was beginning to feel quite fatigued. The ride back toward town was very weird, because parts of the trail were completely dry, and others were muddy and filled with large puddles where it had rained very hard. At least it wasn't raining on me.

I was now on the final stretch back to town, and my pace slowed to a crawl. I kept turning the pedals with all of the energy that I could muster. A bunch of people passed me as I pulled in to the finish line, but that was okay. I made it! I wanted to break the 11 hour mark, but that didn't happen. My final time was 11:37:17 which was good enough to get me the silver belt buckle, and the sweatshirt. I was very happy, and very tired.

I really wanted to do the race this year, as a celebration of turning 50 years old, so I volunteered at last years race to improve my chances of making it through the lottery. My volunteer station was County Road 10, which I worked with a guy name Phil who was from Colorado Springs. He had the same idea that I did about volunteering for the race in order to get through the lottery. In a strange coincidence, I finished the race just 4 seconds ahead of Phil. If the race would have been a hundred yards longer, he probably would have passed me up.

All in all, it was a successful race, and I'll always be able to talk about the time that I raced against Lance Armstrong. Lance ended up finishing in second place behind Dave Wiens, and about 5 hours ahead of me. What a ride!



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