My luck finally ran out at the Hardrock lottery this year. Despite being in the old timer’s category and thus being a near shoe-in, I now sit far enough back on the wait list that I won’t get into the race. Instead of moping around feeling sorry for myself I decided to try a new challenge: Leadman.
If you don’t know, the Leadman is a series of races that all start and finish in Leadville. The Leadville Marathon, the Silver Rush 50 mile mountain bike and run, the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike, the 10K, and the Leadville Trail 100 mile run. Stretching from mid-June through early August, the events offer a great way to fill up the summer schedule without having to travel very far.
When I started leaking the plan to friends, they all had the same response, “Do you even know how to ride a bike?” Technically the answer is yes, as I ride to work most days, the bulk of that three mile commute on the paved Midland Trail that takes me from my house to downtown. Now, do I know how to race over technical terrain with hundreds of other riders all up in my personal space? I guess I’ll find out.
The running portion shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve never done the marathon or Silver Rush 50, but from what I hear these shouldn’t be too big of a deal for me as I’ve run harder courses in the past. I’m also a three time finisher of the 100 mile run and I tend to do pretty well on that course. I have a lot of friends running the hundred this year, and despite the beating I’ll take during Leadman the plan is, as always, to crush them all so I retain bragging rights the rest of the summer.
So the big question is how will I fare at the Silver Rush 50 and the Pb 100 mile mountain bike races? I have no idea. I’ve done one mountain bike race in my life, which was a two day run/ride event called the Epic Mountain Challenge down in Pagosa Springs. I was destroyed on the bike, finishing very close to last in both bike events. In my defense, I’m pretty sure I was the only guy there who didn’t have any sponsorship deals and wasn’t interested in chasing prize money. I was so out of my element there that people looked at me funny when I lugged a pounder of PBR on my bike for the final ride, a two mile time trial straight up a big hill. I finished second to last on that ride, pushing my ten year old Klein past some guy whose bike fell apart in the last half mile. At the top of the hill someone actually commented on how I carried 24 extra ounces on my bike and how that slowed me down. Competitive cyclists are so weird.
So obviously I have a lot of work to do on the bike. Which I’ll get started on, as soon as the weather warms up a bit. My wife even green-lighted the purchase of a new bike for this pursuit. That, along with the cost of entering the series ($860), definitely put the pressure on to finish this thing so I don’t ever have to go back.
I’m excited for the challenges this change brings, of not knowing whether or not I’ll be able to pull this whole thing off. I’ll definitely miss Hardrock, and I’ll go back someday, but after five finishes I know exactly what I need to do to prepare for that race and I know exactly how I need to run the race in order to finish. I have no idea what I’m doing for the bike portions of Leadman. Don’t know how to train on a bike, and I certainly don’t know how to race on a bike. And I’m not really interested in learning how to do all that, since I find talking to cyclists about those topics bores me pretty quickly. So I’ll head into spring with one rule on bike training: ride my bike as much as possible. What could possibly go wrong with such an awesome, simple plan?