Challenge Rancho Cordova

Rancho Cordova is a town outside of Sacramento, CA. I have driven past numerous of times without paying attention to it and when I heard about the race I didn’t realize that it was the name of a town at first.
Challenge is the name of a series of races just like IronMan and HITS for example. The most famous Challenge family race is probably Challenge Roth but they are expanding with new races every year.
I had some plans to finish my season with Big Kahuna in Santa Cruz, a race that I have done a couple of times before. However because of my schedule I opted for Challenge Rancho Cordova (CRC) instead.

One of the deciding factors for me was the ability for me to pick up my race package the day of the race. I didn’t want to drive all the way up there on Saturday the day before the race and then drive up there again the day of the race. I also didn’t want to fork out money for a hotel in the area. So with that I set my alarm to 3.10 am and headed out. Made it up to Rancho Cordova around 5am in the morning.

This is when the cluster of having to different transition areas started. I needed to get my number and start package in order to get in to either of the two transition areas. There was no communication on where the packet pickup would be so I went first to T2 (where it was not) and then to T1 (where it was).
My plan had been to set up my stuff at T1, then drive over to T2 (where the finish also was) and then take a bus back to T1 (where the start was). This so that when I finished I had access to my car and all gear that would either already be at the finish or be transported there by race organization.

Since I had to spend time trying to find packet pickup I didn’t have time to drive back to T2 after setting up T1 and therefore my car was left at the start. This also added an element of uncertainty for me since I had to just drop a bag at the start with my running gear that would then be delivered to T2 and waiting for me there. So how would I know if it would make it there? Where would it be? etc? This was no problem, more on that later.

So I set up T1, dropped the T2 bag, loaded up with sunscreen and put my wetsuit on.

The swim was in Nimbus Flat State Park and the water temperature was 66F. So pretty good conditions. I would have been ok with a bit colder since you work up a pretty good sweat in the wetsuit and a bit colder temperature would be optimal.
The first part of the swim went really well for me. The second part didn’t and it was a bit frustrating. I felt that I was swimming ok, sighting ok but for some reason it was apparently pretty slow. One part to this was that the course was a bit confusing. Some people had said one thing before the race started, now everyone around me was swimming a different route and I was somewhat being nudged in that direction by the lifeguards in kayaks also.
In the end I didn’t have the fastest swim but also not my slowest for a 70.3 distance race. I could have don ethos swim faster. More to improve on for next year but its going in the right direction.
Out of the swim and on to the bike. T1 was pretty fast. Wetsuite off and stuffed in a bag (for transport to finish), sunglasses and helmet on and off I went. Lake shoes where already clipped in and I was really close to bike out. On to the bike and I managed to get me feet in the shoes pretty quickly.
Started off with a decent pace on the bike and started to pass people immediately. Didn’t feel thirsty and it wasn’t that hot but I knew it would be a long day and that the temps would get into the mid 90’s so I started drinking. Settled in and started eating after about 20 minutes.
The bike course wasn’t really one that fit me all that well. It was extremely flat with some minor rolling hills and a few stepper climbs that were extremely short. I think I do better with tougher and hillier bike courses.
I was passed by a total of 6 guys throughout the bike course, if my memory servers me right. Might have been a few more or a few less but it wasn’t many. I completely lost track on how many I passed, ~50 maybe.
Came into T2 and was a bit worried about being able to find my run-bag with my shoes. Turned out that T2 was extremely well organized. I left my shoes in the bike and dismounted. A volunteer took care of my bike and all I had to do was run to s long line of bags that was arranged in numerical order. Easily found my bag and quickly got socks and shoes on, grabbed visit and run belt and popped the helmet into the now empty bag. The off to run a 1/2 marathon.

I felt really good and went out with a really good pace. It did start to get hot at this point. I had tons of Gu packed up on my belt and in pockets. I quickly walked through every aid station that was basically set up at every mile. It was a 2 loop course and the first loop went by really fast. I felt like I was pretty much flying through the miles and had no issues to talk about up until that point. Maybe some tendencies to leg cramps but I was able to manage that. Then, boom at mile 7 both my hip flexors cramped up. Haven’t had it that bad before. I was able to run still but the pace went from an 8-ish min/mile to more like 10-11 min/mile. I had to take longer walk breaks but tried to do so in conjunction with the aid stations in order to keep motivating myself to keep running in between them. I had gotten far enough that I was committed to finish the race even if I had to walk the rest of the way.
Ended up with just over a 2 hour run. Definitely not good and I wanted better. However I had hip flexor issues leading up to the race so wasn’t surprised that gave me problems during the race.
Managed to sprint passed a guy in my age group down the finish chute. However I was passed by several during the last loop of the run so this one spot didn’t really make much of a difference and I ended up 18/51 in my age group and 109/470 overall.

So now that I had finished and wanted to get on the road to head home the cluster began. I had to take a shuttle to the start to get to my car. No one knew where the shuttle left from so I had to partially guess and moved in the right direction and finally found someone that could tell me exactly where. I missed the buss with 39 seconds, I actually saw it drive away. Had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. After about a 15 minute shuttle ride I got dropped off about half a mile or so from my car so had to walk that part. Got to the car and drove back to the finish where I now had to try and find parking. Then went into transition only to not find my bag with me wetsuite. Apparently my number fell off and the bag was in a pile of random stuff that didn’t have numbers in them. Luckily I had attached my Zoot ankle strap to the bag so I eventually found it. Collected the rest of the stuff and started a 2 hour drive home. It was about 95F the whole drive and the AC in the car is busted. Yes, the shower felt amazing when I got home.

Even with the issues on the run and not being able to push through a run the way I wanted I still got a PR 70.3 with a total time of 5:26:27.

It’s now time for somewhat of a break. Rest up and then start to focus on strength and flexibility. Probably not much more biking or running for the rest of the year. Much more yoga, strength training and swimming. Need to build a strong and flexible body that can handle IronMan training next year.

It’s been a great fun season. Not as good as I’ve hoped for but much due to some badly timed colds and because of being injured for a lot of it.

It’s been great fun to race with team Zoot the entire season.

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More thoughts on Leadville Trail 100 MTB

After digesting the race for a while now i had some additional thoughts Could be used as input and possibly some recommendations for anyone looking at signing up for the race.

Start strategy
I did a pretty bad job on this part. I actually arrived in Leadville pretty early in the morning. I knew where the start was and I parked about 2 blocks away. However it was really cold in the morning so instead of heading over to the start I opted to sit in the warm car and wait it out. About 20 minutes before race start I braved the cold and started rolling. Did a bit of riding to warm up some before I headed over to the start area. It was packed. Since it had not qualified for the race but got in on the lottery I was already in the white start corral, the last start corral.
As a result I ended up being one of the last ones to cross the start line. This meant lots and lots of waiting when I hit the first climb of the race. Slower people walking where I could have been riding. I am pretty sure it also affected the biggest climb of the race, Columbine.
My recommendation would be to bring some old sweatpants and a thick jacket or sweater. Something that can be thrown away just before race start but would keep you warm when holding a good spot in your start corral. This is obviously even easier if you have a support crew with you and they are willing to get up dead-early in the morning to support you. This way you can bring whatever you want/need to keep you warm. The support crew might not be able to get to you in the middle of the start pack but you can just leave your bike for a few seconds to hand your extra gear over.

Crew
Crew or no crew doesn’t really matter in the end. It is totally doable to perform well in the race (from an amateur standpoint) without a crew. Sure, its very nice to have friends and/or family out there along the course to cheer you on along the way but it definitely not needed to finish the race.

Cooler drop-bag
I packed all of my stuff in a regular draw string bag. In the end I didn’t end up using any of the stuff in my drop-bag. However when I dropped it off the day before I did see all the other drop-bags lined up. Someone had packed their stuff up in a small cooler. A very smart idea since it can get very hot during the day and depending on nutrition pack dup in your drop bag it might go bad. So if you don’t have a crew to help out this could be a really good option.

Tire choice
This is what I ended up agonizing about the most in preparation or the race. I did tons of research on this topic and finally came to the conclusion that the best option would be something with fairly low rolling resistance and a rally strong side wall. I ended up with Continental X-King ProTection 29 x 2.2 both in front and rear. I didn’t really pay much attention to weight at all. In the end, had I come to a conclusion about tire choose earlier in my preparation I probably would have switched to riding tubeless. I didn’t and ended up carrying one spare tire with me and had a spare tube in my drop-bag. I didn’t really have enough time to make the switch to ride tubeless since that would have basically meant doing so just shortly before the race and with that being uncertain on how all of that would work. I would have wanted more rides with tubeless before the race in order to feel comfortable with riding on that set-up during the race.
I didn’t have any problems at all with grip or flats or anything related to my tires so I am extremely happy with my choice and think I made the right one.

High altitude
This is probably a topic that is very individual. I personally don’t have tremendous amount of experience with endurance racing at high altitude. I did a Half Ironman (HIM) distance race at around 6k-7k ft a couple of weeks before Leadville and that was about all the experience I had. That HIM didn’t seem to affect me all that much and to be honest neither did Leadville. The altitude probably had some affect to the performance but not to the extent that it bothered me or that I could significantly feel it.

Hard tail vs. full suspension
This is a very common topic. To me it came down to the fact that I had one MTB at my disposal, a hard tail 29er. So whatever the preferred bike would be was a moot point to me as I was not going to go out and buy a new MTB just for this race. I think a top of the line full suspension bike would probably be preferred in the end but a hard tail 29er works extremely well. I did get pretty fatigued in my arms and wrist towards the end of the race. Now was that because lack of training and strength or because I was not on a full suspension bike. Who knows. If you want to take on the race and don’t have the budget to buy a new bike, just roll with what you have, it will work.

Weather
I ended up being extremely lucky from what I understand. I didn’t end up having a single drop of rain all day during my race. It also wasn’t that cold during the day with the exception of early in the morning. But I quickly ended up shedding layers and rode all day in shorts and a short sleeve.
I have heard that the weather can be brutal. Cold, warm, rain, snow and even hail all in one day. It could be brutally hot before starting the climb up Columbine and snowing when you reach the top. The weather can also change extremely quickly at that high altitude.
I did pack some extra gear in my Camelback during the entire race. I had arm warmers and a very thing rain jacket just in case. I had also loaded up my drop-bag with some dry gloves and other dry gear just in case. I think being prepared for any weather is the way to go.

Nutrition
This is a very individual topic. It also depends heavily on the weather. I started with a  full 100oz of water in my Camelback and also had a bottle that was mixed with two packs of Osmo. I had a bunch of picky-bars and bonk breakers. I had made some home made nutrition from the book Feed Zone Portables (sweet potato and rice waffles) and I also had some delicious candy bars from Cake Nouveau (www.cakenouveau.com). I used more Omso that the two packs since I kept refilling my bottle at every aid station. Towards the end I was munching on whatever they were offering. PB sammies, bananas, chips, pretzels, coke, etc.
I could have probably done better with nutrition and been more diligent with eating and getting calories in to my body on a more regular schedule. However I didn’t have any stomach issues at all during the race. I did start to feel pretty tired and fatigued towards the end but I’m not sure that was due to poor nutrition or just not being fit enough to handle such a long distance race.

Where to stay
I stayed about 30 minutes outside of Leadville in a small place called Twin Lakes. This is close to where the Twin Lakes aid station is located at the bottom of the Columbine climb. I rented a very small cabin that was perfect for me. However it was very small and would have been too small had my wife and son joined me.
I also found myself driving a lot back and forth between Leadville and Twin Lakes and the 30 minute drive each way added up. My recommendation would be to stay in Leadville if possible. The problem with that is that everything rents out very quickly during the race week so you better be on top of it if you want to get a good place to stay.

No crash and no injury
I am very happy with the fact that I didn’t end up having any mechanical problem. I also didn’t end up crashing or falling or injuring myself in any way. I did see some cuts and bruises along the way. Given that it is a MTB race over a 100 miles the risk is obviously there. Descending Columbine is fast and if you loose control on that fire road you will be hurting. Other than that I think one of the bigger risks would be a stupid crash during one of the steeper climbs with having the real wheel spin out or something.

Bike shipment
I was originally thinking of bringing my bike in a bike case that I had borrowed. After doing the math I figured out wasn’t worth it. The airline would charge a bunch for the case and that would also mean a lot more stuff to get to the airport and to deal with at the airport. I ended up using a bike transportation (tribiketransport.com) company instead. They had a local pickup spot at a sports store (Sports Basement) where I dropped my bike off about 1 week before the race and where I also picked it up again about 1 week after the race. The cost ended up being almost the same as what the airline would have charged my but with a lot less hassle. One of the best parts to this was that I could hand my bike off as soon as I crossed the finish line.

After the race
I stayed around the finish area for a while. Then made my way back to my car that was parked somewhat nearby and changed in to so clean clothes. Then went back to the finish area and grabbed my free beer. They did have food here but it was cash only and I didn’t have any cash so that didn’t work out.
The day after the race they have the awards ceremony. This was honestly a bit of a snooze fest. They called out the names of literally every person that finished the race and you were supposed to wait for your name to be called and then pick up your belt buckle. If there is a group you that did the race this might be ok. I was there alone so this was pretty boring and mostly a long wait.
Make sure to head up to the official Leadville Trail store or wherever you picked up your start package to grab your finisher sweater. This wasn’t really clear to me but I did read something about a finisher sweater so I went there and I had some other errands up there anyways. You get a sweater with your name and finish time printed on it.
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Oakland Triathlon Festival – Race report

This was the inaugural Oakland Triathlon Festival. I signed up a long time ago because I felt I wanted to support and race a local race. The fact that I would be able to ride my bike to the start was an added bonus. Ever since signing up when telling people about this race all I’ve heard has been negative comments. “Who wants to swim in that dirty water”, “Is the swim going to be in Lake Merritt, thats gross”, “Will you be riding in a bullet proof vest?” and so on. None of the people that had these comments did the race and completely missed out on a great fun race with a very unique course and a great organization.

I rolled down the 3 miles to the transition area at around 5am in the morning. Entered the transition area from the location where both swim and bike in would be. Found a perfect transition spot on the first rack. This meant shorter running barefoot after the swim and also shorter barefoot running after the bike (since I ride without socks and leave shoes clipped in).

Proceeded with the usual setup of the transition area and met up with my buddy D who was doing the duathlon (bike and run).

Early morning

Early morning

For some reasonI wasn’t entirely prepared for this race and there were a couple of details that I didn’t know about. I had to check when my exact start time would be. All I knew was that the race started at 7am but there would be start corrals and I had no idea when I was going to start. 7.08 am it turned out.

I had brought some old socks to wear during the 10 min walk to the swim start. Smart I thought since it was probably much more comfortable compared to being barefoot.

I got into the water and got about a 10 minute or so warmup before my wave started. This was a deep water start and not a beach start. Only time I have done this type of start before was at a race in Stockholm. So instead of starting on the beach and running into the water you start in the water and everyone is lined up treading water before the gun goes off.

The swim was another part of this race I hadn’t researched properly. Or hadn’t researched at all I should say. When I arrived at the swim start I did overhear some people talking about the course. I then asked some more people but everyone seemed a bit confused about it. I finally decided to just go with the flow knowing that I most likely wouldn’t lead my start wave on the swim anyways so there would be people to follow.

I general I had a good swim. I was for once able to follow a bigger group of swimmers and it felt pretty good. The course was a bit unusual but fun. Had a 1 mile swim time of 24 min 18 sec.

The swim was followed by a 0.2 mile run that included running up some stairs to get to a bridge over the train tracks and then down stairs on the other side. I had no problems with this. Felt pretty good and running barefoot here was no big deal as it was mostly carpeted or pretty smooth tiled surface. It was pretty slippery at some points and I didd hear someone behind me eat it when we were running down the stairs.

T1 as a whole (run from water to heading out on bike) took me 5 min 40 sec. Thats pretty long but it did also include a long run for being transition. Getting wetsuite off and gearing up for the bike ride was pretty uneventful. I did fumble a bit when buckling the helmet but that probably only cost me a few sec.

Out on the bike I managed to get my feet in the shoes and getting the shoes on properly pretty quickly. I had my shoes clipped on to the pedals and held up by rubber bands in transition and then ran through T1 barefoot. Jumped on the bike and started pedaling with my feet on top of the shoes and when I got some speed going strapped on the shoes properly.

Started to work up a pretty decent pace right out of T1 and also started to pop some nutrition down early on. Had a few Bonk Breakers, some Gu and Osmo during the ride. The bike course was basically dead flat in comparison to any other triathlon I have ever done. It was also probably one of the more technical bike courses I have done. And by technical I mean a lot of turns. It’s not really that technical but compared to an out-and-back course with a few turns only this was technical.

I kept a pretty good pace on this two loop course and was passed only by 2 guys during the 40k. Those two were probably some super fast guys from the waves behind me (the overall winner and the 2nd place were 47 and 40 years old so probably those guys).

The ZIPP wheels performed really well in the winds and surprisingly well given the amount of turns involved on this course.

Finished the 40k bike course in 1 hour 7 min and 25 seconds.

I messed up a bit when arriving to T2. I had not prepared and unbuckled my shoes and had to kind of last minute unbuckle one of them to get my foot out and then had to stop with one foot on the ground to unbuckle the other foot. Probably lost a few seconds on this.

My rack space was immediately to the left when entering the transition area so I quickly racked the bike and made a very last minute decision to run in socks. Put socks on and while doing so heard D’s voice next to me as he entered transition also. The duathlon had started around the same time as I started my bike ride. I told him we should run together and bolted out on my run.

T2 ended up being reasonably fast given that I took time ot put socks on. 1 min 32 sec.

I set out targeting a  7 min/mile pace on the run. Felt really good early on and I kept pushing. Eventually made it to my stoping grounds around Lake Merritt where I end up a lot of times for training runs so i know that loop really well. Early on I passed a lot of people but when the sprint and international run course parted ways it got lonely for a while. I finally caught some people and then some more. After the loop around the lake we eventually hit the same stairs that we ran when exiting the swim. Running up 3-4 flights of stairs and then down again was tough at about 4-5 miles in to the run. I had to scale back a little bit at then end because is was almost about to cramp. Managed to keep a pretty solid pace for the whole run and did eventually cramp but that was just after passing the finish line.

Run time (6 miles) 42 min 59 sec.

Total time 2 hours 21 minutes 54 seconds.

Had wife, son, mom and dad greet me at the finish line. Looked like a great after party with beer and food but the lines was a bit too long. We made plans to go grab brunch instead so I went and collected my stuff from the transition area and biked the 3 miles home.

I ended up 12/79 in my age group and 63/918 overall. My buddy D that did the duathlon grabbed 1st place with almost 6 minutes to spare!

I’m definitely doing this race again!

Greeted by fam

Greeted by fam

Oakland Tri Festival

Oakland Tri Festival

Brunch liquid recovery drink

Brunch liquid recovery drink

 

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Oakland Triathlon Festival – International distance

Finished 12/79. Happy with the result. Had a really fun day and great performance given that this is a shorter distance than what I mostly do. Probably most happy about the sub-7 min/mile run.

Race report to follow….

Oakland Tri Festival

Oakland Tri Festival

Fast just got faster – ZIPP 404

Got my new wheels, ZIPP 404′s last week but haven’t been able to try them out until today. Did a 26 mile ride along the waterfront in Emeryville. These are some really fast wheels. Without any extreme efforts I ended up with a bunch of Strava PR’s. It was also pretty windy but was still able to push a pretty decent pace without too much effort.

Fast just got faster with Zipp 404's

Fast just got faster with ZIPP 404′s

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Leadville Trail 100 MTB

This is a long one so go grab a drink…

The day before the race was mostly spent in Leadville. Went to pick up my start package, spent way to much money on stuff at the expo, attended the mandatory athletes meeting, napped, packaged my drop-bag and had some delicious pizza.

View from outside the cabin

View from outside the cabin

The cabin

The cabin

View from the cabin

View from the cabin

The cabin

Bed

The cabin

Kitchenette

Not knowing what to expect out of the aid stations in filled up a drop-bag to the brim. Extra food, nutrition, electrolytes and a bunch of clothes. The wether can change pretty rapidly so I figured it could be nice with some dry gloves, arm warmers, bike jersey, etc. if it start dot rain (or snow).

Start & Finish

Start & Finish

Drop-bags

Drop-bags

Lunch the day before the race

Lunch the day before the race

Early bedtime the night before and I had no real problems falling asleep. This probably thanks to the 12” pizza at High Mountain Pies and the beer. Had a 4am wake-up call the morning of the race but probably didn’t get out of bed until 4.20-ish. Had prepped obviously prepped coffee and then had the (for me) standard race morning brekkie of bagel, honey roasted PB and a banana.

It was cold in the morning, real cold. There was a thin layer of ice on the rental car. Race start was 6.30 but we needed to line up in our start corrals between 5.30-6.15. I arrived pretty early but opted to stay in the car because of the cold. When I finally made my way over to the start area it was packed. Since I had not qualified and I was a first-timer I was in the last (white) start corral. Since I arrived late I was also all the way in the back of the white start corral. At this point I didn’t worry too much about that since I was basically shivering because it was so cold.

The start

The start

Me at the start all the way in the back

Me at the start all the way in the back

The gun went off and we started moving, sloooowly. But since its basically a rolling start and your time doesn’t start until you cross the time chip line that didn’t really matter at that point. However your placement in the race does count from at what place you cross the finish line. So placement in race and time is separately tracked but probably doesn’t differ all that much.

The first couple of miles is easy downhill and mostly on pavement. If it was cold earlier it got colder at this point. However this changed as soon as we hit some dirt. A little bit more effort and the HR went up a bit and I quickly got warmer. I had a very annoying problem going on the first couple of miles. I had knee warmers on and my left one kept sliding down so that it was basically bunched up below my knee. I tried to pull it up several times but it just kept sliding down. I finally decided not to care about it.

We hit the first climb, St Kevins. People started to slow down, people went to a complete standstill, people were walking. This was extremely frustrating. I am by no means a technically good rider but this was not technically difficult. I had a hard time understanding how any of these riders would make the rest of the course if you had problems with some of the “easy” climbing after a few miles. A lot of people were also huffing and puffing at this point and we had 90+ miles to ride and probably about 11000ft+ to climb. This set me back a lot and this was a result of me wanting to stay warm in the car earlier in the morning. I decided to not get to frustrated and annoyed about it and fell in to the line of walkers as it was impossible to ride anyways give that everybody was walking all over the place.

First quick stop for me was at the top of St Kevins. I took of the knee warmers and wind vest and a first bio break.

After this we went through some defending on dirt that turned in to a fast decent on a paved road and then some long climbing in paved road.

Then it got interesting. We hit the well known Powerline decent. I had heard about this and seen this on some videos. This was supposed to be a really sketchy, technical and a bit dangerous downhill. Well, if you’ve ridden Cinderella in Redwood Regional park then this is nothing, just longer. It was not technical at all, the only problem was a lot of riders stopping in the middle of it so it was difficult to find a flow and a line to ride. I made it down in one piece without problems.

Powerline

Powerline – Hard to tell but the race course is there.

Next we hit some more paved road that was very flat and in pretty open landscape. I caught a group and took position in the back to leverage the draft. However after a while I wasn’t happy with the pace so started pushing past the group and started a faster pace. A few riders followed and we rode a few miles together. Got back on to dirt roads and eventually hit the first real aid-station, Pipeline . I had plenty of food, nutrition and water at this pint so I kept going.

After this the course was somewhat flat with some mixed terrain of dirt roads and single tracks. There where a few steeper climbs and downhill here and there but nothing that was too long or grueling. Eventually made it to the Twin Lakes aid-station. This is a big one. It is really easy to access by car so this is where most people will be. This is also where I had decided to have my drop-bag dropped. However when hitting the aid station I didn’t feel like I needed anything from the back. That and we would pass this aid-station again on the way back. I had a banana and re-filled a bottle with Osmo (sports drink).

Twin Lakes aid station the day before

Twin Lakes aid station the day before

Twin Lakes aid station the day before

Twin Lakes aid station the day before

This is the real climbing would start. The climb up to Columbine Mine is 10 miles and climbs 3300 ft. The first part is rocky dirt road that turns in to a nice dirt road that turns in to really gnarly rocky single track. I’m not sure here since I didn’t count but during the first part of this climb when we were still on a nice and wide dirt road I probably passed about 100 people. This is also where I met the leader of the race coming down. When we got to the rocky sketchy single track section riders turned in to walkers and I was stuck again. This was the same as the experience with St Kevins earlier in the day. Some parts here were a bit technical for sure but I would argue that all of it was rideable. This is also close to 12000ft of elevation so oxygen is sparse here. The less fit people of the race were definitely struggling here.

At the top I decided to refuel and took my sweet time to enjoy the view and the food. PBJ’s, cookies, bananas, etc. Lots of very nice volunteers up here. Took a picture and posted it on Facebook.

At Columbine mine

At Columbine mine

At Columbine mine

At Columbine mine

At this point I still felt very strong and I didn’t really seem that the elevation was affecting me much. I started descending. I was expecting to have some slow riders in front of me but that wasn’t the case. The first part was brutal however. Riding a hard-tail in this section was rough. My arms and wrists were in pain and exhausted by the time I was done with the rocky single-track section. The rest was smooth sailing back to the Twin Lakes aid station. Fueled up some more but decided to leave the drop-bag and just ride the rest of the race out with what was offered at the aid-stations.

At this point in the race, about 65 miles in, every climb started to take its toll on me. I was still ok but definitely started to feel the 6+ hours of riding. Kept pushing on and was riding with basically the same people around me on and off as we all stopped for bio breaks.

Enter the Powerline climb. This was tough, this was really tough. I had been riding for pretty much exactly 8 hours when I got to this climb. I had already forgotten how far I descended earlier in the day. At this point it also started to get pretty clear to me that I have been training for 6-ish hour races all season, not 8 hours and longer. I was having a hard time eating at this point in the race also and was only really getting in some sport drinks and the occasional Gu. I rode a part of the Powerline climb, longer than most around me but had to walk for a big part of it. The end of this climb was also really technical to climb, lots of short steeper sections and lots of loose rock. This definitely took its toll on me.

After that grueling climb it was time for some refilled, about a 15 minute descend. Only to be followed by about another 40 minutes of climbing again. At some point someone at an aid-station said that there was no more climbing from this point on. That was the biggest lie of the day. I’m sure I climbed at least another 1500ft after that.

The St Kevins downhill (this time obviously) was also brutal. My grip was really suffering at this point so I had a hard time dealing with the extremely rocky surface. This would obviously be better with a full suspension bike but I don’t have one so I don’t have the option. On the other hand a full suspension rig might suffer more on the climbs so I’m torn on what would be better overall.

After St Kevins there was time for some flat riding again. Around this point I hit the 100 mile mark. The rout back at this point was slightly different than going out. The last few miles here seemed like they never ended. The last 3 miles or so was a long gradual climb. Some people along the course helped push me and other riders around us along for a few seconds.

There was a bit of relief in form of a slight downgrade just before coming in to the finishing shoot and the red carpet. I mustard enough energy to sprint past one guy here.

Official finishing time was 10:50:44. The un-official moving time according to my GPS was 10:23:59 so I took my sweet time at the aid-stations and especially at the top. The cut-off time for officially finishing the race is 12 hours and that was my target so I beat that by far.

Custom finishers sweater

Custom finishers sweater

Finishers medal

Finishers medal

Belt buckle

Belt buckle

Finished

Finished

I had a blast. It might sounds strange that biking and suffering for almost 11 hours would be a blast but I don’t expect everyone to understand that. There are some people I know out there that do understand the fun in that. An IronMan is tougher I think. But anything can be made really tough depending on how hard you push yourself and how well prepared you are. I think I could break 9 hours (the silver buckle cut-off) if I prepared properly and wasn’t held back by walkers due to starting far back.

Today, the day after I feel ok. A bit sore but for the most part ok. A lot less sore than after running a marathon thats for sure. The cold that I had before the the race got a bit better leading up to the race. Biking for almost 11 hours did not however make it better but I’ll get over that sooner or later also.

I did have a bit of a hard time sleeping. Passed out at 9pm and woke up around midnight and was awake for a really long time. My HR was probably around 100 (very high resting HR for me). I’m sure the high altitude, 10200ft, and that my body was trying to recover contributed to that.

Leadville is a cool little town with emphasis on little. There’s not much to do in town and there’s not a whole lot of restaurants either. But it’s cute and it has it’s charm. The draw is the amazing nature around Leadville. This is something that riders get to experience to the absolute full extent throughout the entire race. Sometimes I even found myself forgetting about being tired and exhausted because the views around you were so spectacular.

IMG_4447 IMG_4450

The cabin

The cabin

IMG_4439 IMG_4438

I’d love to come back and do this race again sometime. Not sure that I will anytime soon as it’s huge logistical undertaking. There are 3 riders that have completed the race all 21 times that it has been running. I won’t beat that but maybe I’ll come back one day to attempt the sub-9-hour mark.

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A day in Boulder, CO

Had an early morning start in Boulder to meet up with a friend fro breakfast. There are tons cool and very interesting breakfast places all over Boulder. With only one full day here I am just scratching the surface. We hit up a place called Snooze, delicious looking pancake menu but I opted for less sugar and went with a pulled pork benedict.

After breakfast I wen to a cafe called The Laughing Goat and got some work and other stuff done. Nice to sit outside in the sun at 8am in the morning. That sunshine quickly changed to rain and I moved inside. The rain stopped just as quickly as it started and I headed out to go get a ride share bike to take a quick ride along Boulder Creek. Amazing to have a creek that basically runs throughout downtown.

Boulder Creek Boulder Creek

You can only use the ride share bikes for 30 min at the time and then have to return them to a station. You technically pick one up immediately and keep going but I had done some research and was interested in checking out an outdoor 50m pool. So I went over to the Scott Carpenter Pool for an easy swim. I got exactly 200m in before the lifeguards pulled me and everybody else out due to thunderstorms and closed the pool for at least 30m minutes.

Off to lunch. A recommended place and popular place in Boulder was The Kitchen. It seemed a bit pricey for lunch so I went next door to The Kitchen Next Door. Delicious sandwich and a beer.
Lunch
After lunch I strolled the downtown area of Boulder for a bit and especially Pearl Street. Lots of small shops, cafes and restaurants. Street performers and obviously a bouldering playground for the kids.

 

Kids bouldering

I did have a re-entry available for the pool and decided I needed to get that swim done so I headed back to the Scott Carpenter Pool as they had lane swimming open again starting at 4. I got there a bit on the early side and had to wait for them to put the lanes up. After that I got 1300m in all by myself in a lane. I’m used to pools being packed full of people when its lane swimming and especially in an outdoor pool when the weather is awesome. Not sure why it was so empty but I’m guessing all triathletes in Boulder get there swim sessions done in the morning.
Scott Carpenter Pool
Headed back to downtown and wanted to use the bike share some more since I had paid for 24 h of use anyways. Did some more casual riding along Boulder Creek but in the other direction this time. Ended the ride by Pasta Jay’s and gobbled up some delicious Chicken Juliana.

After dinner I started the 2.5 hour drive from Boulder to Leadville. Arrived safely at The Windspirit Cottages and Cabins at around 10pm and crashed after a long day.

Driving to Leadville

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