Tag Archives: leadville

Race Across the Sky (Leadville documentary) Review

Last night I caught the one-night-only screening of Race Across the Sky, a film about the 2009 Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race. The 2009 race featured a battle between big guns, Lance Armstrong (everyone knows who Lance is) and Dave Wiens (a mountain bike legend and 6-time Leadville winner who beat Lance in 2008). The movie also follows the journey of several amateur cyclists with unique stories. The movie is not rated, but I thought it was suitable for children (would rate it PG).

The movie was bittersweet for me – I loved it, but I’m afraid it will now reduce my chances of ever getting in to Leadville. Why? How? Here’s a little history on Leadville and my history (or lack thereof) with Leadville:

Each summer Leadville, Colorado, a city rich with mining and Wild West history, is host to a number of challenging endurance events. The town is 10,152 feet above sea level, so endurance events take on the added challenge of dealing with altitude. One of the events, the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race, is so popular that racers enter a lottery in January to secure one of the 750-1200 available starting line spots for the August race. The ride starts at 9,200 feet, with the highest point at the famed Columbine Mine aid station at 12,600 feet, and covers over 12,000 feet of climbing over the 100 mile course.

Leadville buckle

The goal of Leadville is to get a “buckle”. Racers that finish in under 12 hours get a silver commemorative belt buckle. Those finishing in under 9 hours get a gold & silver buckle. Many consider Leadville the toughest race in the U.S., so these buckles are literally & figuratively “worth their weight in gold”.

But to race, you must win the lotter. The lottery works like this:

  1. You send in your registration and a check for $240 before Jan. 31.
  2. Then sometime in February you are notified if you ”got in”
  3. If you do get in, your fee is not returnable and you can’t transfer your entry to anyone else (so you better be committed).
  4. Preference in the lottery is given to people that have competed in past Leadville’s (with those completing 5 or more times getting a guaranteed spot). The rest of the selection criteria is a mystery – unless you’re a 6-time Tour de France winner.

So this gets back to why the movie was “bittersweet”. I’m now more motivated than ever to earn a Leadville buckle, but I’m also afraid there will now be 10,000+ entering the lottery every year since the race is now part of popular culture.

So here is my plan:

  • Sign up for Leadville – probably as part of a team since “rumors” say that improves your chances in the lottery. All team members ride the 100 miles (its not a relay), but as a team you all get in, or no one gets in.
  • Get a new mountain bike designed/built specifically for Leadville (maybe a 29er hardtail?)
  • Race the Mas o Menos 100K mountain bike race in Big Bend, TX in February.
  • Ask for your help. How can you help? If you are reading this, take 2 minutes to send an email to Ken (the Leadville promoter) saying that you support my entry for 2010 (template below).

To: Lt100@leadvilletrail100.com

Subject: I support Ben Cooper’s entry for the 2010 Leadville 100 MTB

Ben’s obvious passion and dedication to doing this race has moved me enough to take the time to send an email on his behalf. I hope that Ben get’s in to the 2010 race because I look forward to reading about his training, the race and the “Leadville” experience on his blog https://texastailwind.wordpress.com

Thanks,

With any luck in 9 months I’ll be suffering on a mountain bike for 12 hours at 12,000 feet!


Lance Armstrong and Dave Wiens duel in Leadville

So I didn’t do Leadville this year (still one of my future goals), but Superhumanmag.com has a great video on the battle between Lance Armstrong and Dave Wiens at Leadville. Watching the video makes you realize just how brutal the climbs at Leadville really are.

UPDATE – Lance is returning to pro racing.

Memorial Weekend Race Report – We beat the train!

Grant at the Stockyards

Memorial Weekend is a hotbed for racing in DFW with 3 crits races in the area. Last year I did all 3 races as a Cat 5 (in an effort to get my 10 races and Cat-up). This year my plan was to race on Saturday at the Glickman in Dallas and Monday for the State Championship here in Fort Worth. Moritz is also one of the organizers of the State Championship, so I planned on working the event for a couple hours as well.

Saturday’s course was a technical crit with a 1/3 mile+ downhill, followed by a 180 degree turn and then a 1/3 mile+ climb to the finish line. I didn’t have any real goals for the race since I haven’t been training since my crash (I’ve been riding a lot, but haven’t done any intervals or real intensity work). Unfortunately, on the 2nd or 3rd lap I got caught behind a crash at the bottom of the hill (on the 180). So I spent the next lap or so chasing the pack. I eventually caught them at the top of the hill, only to lose them in the technical section and downhill, then I would catch back on just as we crested the hill. After a few laps of this my legs started cramping and I pulled out. It’s not in my nature to quit and I could have “time trialed” it solo for the next 30 minutes, but something just didn’t feel right. Pulling out might have been the right move since there were two crashed on the last lap (one on the downhill and one at the finish). Two of my teammates were in the crash on the downhill. One teammate went down pretty hard and has some serious road rash, but the more “painful” part for him is that he broke his frame. Crashing sucks, but it really sucks when you know it costs you thousands of dollars in damage.

Sunday I left early for a long ride with Anthony. Planned on doing a nice 4 hour endurance ride. About 10 miles in I was pseduo-trackstanding at a stop light when I fell over (first time in over a year) and bent my deraileur hanger (to the point that I can’t shift into any of my lower gears). So we rode back to my house and I picked up my cyclocross bike. Between my performance on Saturday, a stupid mistake on Sunday and the culmulative effect of having a newborn (two months of crazy sleep schedules, feedings, etc.) it was starting to feel like a pretty crappy Memorial Weekend.

So with my bike out of commission, I was out for Monday’s race. I also decided that I couldn’t leave Jess alone with both kids again (to go help work the event), but I was able to convince Grant to come with me for a bike ride. Getting Grant to ride with me takes a lot of pleading (he never wants to come initially), but when he does come, we always have a great time. When Grant and I ride, we do two things:

1. Look for bats under bridges. After seeing a TV show about the Congress Ave. Bridge in Austin, Grant is convinced there are bats under every bridge.

2. We chase the train. The area we live in (Near TCU and Colonial) has lots of train tracks, many of them running parralel to the Trinity Trail. There is also a small train that runs through Trinity Park near the zoo. Whenever we hear a whistle, we pretend to “catch the train”.

I figured we would be lucky to ride for an hour or so before Grant got bored. We headed to the Stockyards and saw the cows and rode down Exchange Ave. Then we headed NW on the Trinity Trail towards Carswell Airforce Base. This part of the trail is mostly flat, and crushed granite,  running along the top of the levee –  a perfect surface for a cyclocross bike pulling 50lbs+ of trailer and kiddo.

We started to head back towards our house and were just coming out of Trinity Park when we heard it – the train whistle. Then we saw it – the Forest Park Miniature Train. Instantly Grant shouted, “Daddy! The train! Hurry, let’s catch it!” I didn’t have my PowerTap on my cross bike, but I’m guessing I was putting our 500 watts for the next minute and broke all previous efforts. We caught up to the train and rode beside it for a short distance. The people on the train (literally just a few feet away) started waving at us. I looked back at Grant and he was in awe. I told him to wave back and he instantly got this huge smile on his face and started waving like crazy to the folks on the train. He was like a little rockstar for 10 seconds. Then I asked him, “Do you want to beat the train?”

“Yes Daddy. Let’s go FAST!”

Trinity Park Train

So I pegged it and managed to get us to the bridge for the train in time to snap the picture above. Grant was so excited to finally “catch the train”. I realized we had been out for almost 2.5 hours, so I started to head home. Grant actually started crying because he wanted to keep riding. However, it was getting very hot and I knew we should get back. Luckily, when we pulled up to the house we saw my Sister’s van. The Rosslers had stopped for a visit. This instantly dried Grant’s tears since he adores his cousins Hannah and Jack.

They played outside for a few hours and had a great time.

What could have been a crappy weekend turned into a great weekend. The 3 hours Grant and I spent on the bike was probably the most fun I’ve had on the bike in a long time. Made me realize that it’s time to change up my training/racing for a while. I’m not having fun on the road right now (plus all the races that suit my abilitities have already passed) so I’m going to do one of three things:

  1. Start doing some time trialing. Maybe in time for the State Championships in Aug., but definitley in time for the Texas Time Trials in Sept.
  2. Focus on cyclocross skills and really get ready for cross season in the fall
  3. Get a mountainbike and do some MTB racing

It has kind of come full circle. I got into road racing because I didn’t get into the lottery for the Leadville 100 in 2007. I’m the type of person that needs some physical/athletic goal, so when I didn’t get into Leadville, I decided to try my hand at road racing. Now that I have raced on the road for a year, I’m a little burned out and I feel myself drawn to the dirt again (cross or MTB). However, MTB racing or time trials would require a new bike purchase . . . so we’ll see

To Leadville, or not to Leadville?

Leadville 100

Last year I signed up to do the Leadville 100 mountain Bike Race. Each summer Leadville, Colorado, a city rich with mining and Wild West history, is host to a number of challenging endurance events. The town is 10,152 feet above sea level, so endurance events take on the added challenge of dealing with altitude. One of the events, the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race, is so popular that racers enter a lottery in January to secure one of the 750 available starting line spots for the August race. The ride starts at 9,200 feet, with the highest point at the famed Columbine Mine aid station at 12,600 feet, and covers over 12,000 feet of climbing over the 100 mile course.

Leadville 100 MTB Under 9 hour buckle 

The goal of Leadville is to get a “buckle”. Racers that finish in under 12 hours get a silver commemorative belt buckle. Those finishing in under 9 hours get a gold & silver buckle. Many consider Leadville the toughest race in the U.S., so these buckles are literally & figuratively “worth their weight in gold”.

But to race, you must win the lotter. The lottery works like this:

  1. You send in your registration and a check for $240 before Jan. 31.
  2. Then sometime in February you are notified if you “got in”
  3. If you do get in, your fee is not returnable and you can’t transfer your entry to anyone else (so you better be committed). 
  4. Preference in the lottery is given to people that have competed in past Leadville’s (with those completing 5 or more times getting a guaranteed spot).

So last year, partially inspired by Bernie’s Leadville story, I sent in my application the first week of January . . . and waited . . . and waited. It seemed like an eternity. I had my training program designed, I had the plans for a new “Leadville-specific” mountain bike ready, I had  travel plans ready . . . and then . .. I didn’t get in. The race received a record number of entries last year, mostly because Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong were rumored to participate (only Landis did, getting 2nd). He was pretty dissapointed and put Leadville out of my mind.

Since then I’ve started racing (on the road), moved up to Cat 4, and joined the Moritz Chevrolet Cycling team. I had totally put Leadville out of my mind. Then I get the postcard above from the Leadville organizers, reminding me to get my registration in. So now I have a dilemma . . . do I register, or not. We’re having a baby in April, so do I think I can really put in the training time needed? Can I juggle a full road racing schedule and prepare for Leadville? Is there anyway I can convince Jess to let me buy another bike? In the end, I think the competitor in me will win-out and I’ll send in my registration, but I’m still on the fence. Anyone want to join me for 9-12 hours of tortuous climbing on steep fire roads at 12,000 feet?