Leadville 100 MTB 2019

@bwright … FWIW, that’s the feeling that hit me when I woke up on the morning of the race. I did the LT100 in 2012 and felt totally fine. But some logistical issues ahead of the race (BikeFlights and UPS losing my bike, as an example, and only getting it to me at 8pm Friday night) led to some sleepless nights and some stress (ended up riding on a rented bike). And it just got worse during the week.

I arrived in LV at about 3pm on Friday feeling pretty good (I;d woken up in Denver that morning with what felt like a hangover, but it went away). After a crazy amount of running around that evening, I felt a headache coming on about 10pm. Took Nurafen and went to bed. High HR overnight (60bpm vs. my normal 40-ish), and woke at 3am Saturday with what felt like a three alarm hangover. Absolutely crushing tension headache, and nausea that made me keep looking at the bathroom door. I took Excedrine, Nurafen and Sudafed — no impact. The nausea was almost worse than the headache.

I couldnt eat or drink. But I convinced myself to kit up and start. I was able to ride for a bit, I made it up St Kevins (amid a bunch of Purple/Orange riders by then who didn’t seem to grok that you cannot ride five abreast on that climb …). I kept trying to ride myself into it, but the feeling got worse as I went on. Eventually at the base of Sugarloaf I pulled off, paused for a bit, and called it. Rode back to town freezing cold, registered the DNF, and bailed.

Bitter pill to swallow given I normally dont lack tenacity on a bicycle. But that feeling was more than I could handle. So chapeau for finishing the race, mate, nicely done.

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First LT100, live at sea level, 190 Ibs and 303 FTP for 3.5w/kg, finished 8:46 on Roctane drink and SIS gels. Pretty decent day, had plenty left at the end to drop another 30 mins perhaps, but not coming back.

During my athletic career I never trained or raced at altitude so this was a new experience - 2 miles higher in the sky, that’s crazy to think of.

Lovely country.


@greenswim - Gratz on a great ride! That’s a really impressive effort. Out of interest, do you know if you had a negative split? Seems like you must have paced really well.

Thanks @Kuttermax yeah, I overtook something like 100+ people on the back half. I rode with estimated altitude FTP and was behind schedule at first Twin Lakes stop and made progress from then on.

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Leadville Race Notes

I figured I would share my notes. Intended mostly for my own recollection, but maybe they will be of interest to a few people here.

It was my first time doing the race. I trained with TR most of last year, but took on a coach in February once I got in via the lottery. I wasn’t convinced the all TR approach was right for me. I did however use TR and the Workout Creator app to do many of the workouts prescribed by my coach.

Days before

First time at this elevation. My last FTP test (20 min test) was 245W, but maybe I was now at 250W. ~ 3.2W/kg at basically sea level. I arrived on Monday night. Staying in Frisco (9000ft). I felt short of breath, and had some difficulty sleeping well. This improved a little each day. I worked remotely until Thursday and took Friday off. Tried to eat normally.

Wednesday, pre-rode start and finish at Leadville in the cold rain. These were the only parts of the course I got to pre-ride. Freaked out about the weather and my lack of warmer gear. Forecast for Saturday was rain all day.

On Thursday I finished setting up all my drop and crew bags. I also had to get my front disc rotor straightened on Thursday as it was rubbing. Strange why this took a few days to show up as an issue.

Drove to Leadville on Friday morning but, missed the race meeting due to a road accident. Left drop bags, got packet and light lunch then back to Frisco. Kind of hectic, so tried to take it easier in the evening.

Filled all my bottles/camelbaks and left in car overnight along with shoes, helmet etc so I didn’t forget anything in the morning.

Had a larger than normal dinner on Friday.

Race Plan

Drop bags at all aid stations plus my daughter had bags for Twin Lakes. Plan was to use Pipeline aid and Twin Lakes only, with Columbine’s being a backup.

Race plan was based around a WAG of a finishing time of 10:30 (mid-pack of the finishers in my age group).

Power targets 200W on climbs and 180W on flats.

Planned to take in roughly 300 calories per hour - 200 via liquid and 100 a mix of bars, gels and bloks. Nuun in bottle, energy drink in Camelbak Chase. Solid fuel in top tube bag for easy access.

Saturday’s forecast was now for chance of rain going from about 20% to (I think) 60% by late afternoon.

Race Day - pre-race

Up at 3:30am after a mostly ok sleep (probably around about 5 hours)

Normal breakfast

Left house at around 4:40.

Arrive Leadville 5:20’ish

Bike in white corral around 5:45. Reasonably near the front of this (the last) corral.

Wearing fleece pants and extra jacket to stay warm. Removed these around 6:20.

Left bike and wandered around a bit until about 6:15.

Weather was dry and not too cold. I decided to leave my rain jacket and start in regular kit plus arm warmers and wind vest.

Race Day - race

Over start line 2-3 minutes after the gun.

Road section out, crowded and fast, but really not as bad as expected. Moved up a little bit where possible, but no major effort to do so.

St. Kevins climb (mile 6) - 4.5 miles, 1000 feet climbing took about 45 minutes. This would be completely rideable for me but had to walk sections due to congestion. Tops out around 10800ft. NP to top of St. Kevins 192W
Fast road descent (mile 10) - 5 minutes, average speed 32mph, top speed 42mph (probably fastest I have gone on MTB). Fastest part of course.

Didn’t stop at Carter’s Aid Station.

Climb up Sugarloaf (Hagerman Pass) (mile 14) - Approx. 4.6 miles, 1100ft gain to 11100ft. Took me about 44 minutes - feeling comfortable. NP 180W

Powerline descent (mile 19) - 3.6miles, 1385ft, 14 minutes - I was able to pass quite a few people here, being generally a slighter faster descender than most of the people at the slower end of the pack. I did get held up behind people somewhat but probably not loosing much time.

Powerline bottom to Pipeline Aid (mile 22.5) - Flat road section, tried to pace line. NP 182W, max 784W! Not sure how I managed to do that but I was trying to hang with a larger group and work together. But mountain biker’s clearly do not know how to do a pace line. I started out way to spiky with my power, but was more even by the end when I was less focused on pace lining. In hindsight I think I went too hard at times on this section.

I stopped and pipeline replaced my Nuun bottle and food at the neutral aid/drop bag. I also took a minute to go to toilet. Probably not the most efficient way. Later just went in the trees. I was realizing I was not on 10:30 pace.

Pipeline to Twin Lakes Dam (TLD) (mile 29) - 12 miles, 500 ft gain, 13.2 mph, NP 170W, Max 479W. Held up on the single track section. Also, I picked up a puncture somewhere on the single track section. I think maybe when I was passing someone and went into the sage brush. I never noticed until about a mile before TLD. My front tire getting very soft. The aid area is at least a mile long, I did not not where my daughter would be exactly, she was supposed to be near the neutral aid, so had to go slowly to try to spot her/it. Also while nursing a front tire at about 10psi. I pulled over to ask a spectator where the drop bags were. He started yelling at me to get off the trail (I was off the trail, people were passing), then he started trying to man-handle me and my bike. At this point the stress got to me and I yelled back at him using some colorful language. I am generally very non-confrontational. But with the stress of not finding my crew/aid and having a flat I was super-mad at and freaked out by this guy. My adrenaline was pumping, so I quickly left before it turned nasty. One more expletive was deserved at the guy before I left though… This really left me in a bad mental state for hours/days after. So not what I expected/wanted from a spectator whose one job is to be encouraging. He looked like a cyclist.

Anyways, in about another 500m I heard my daughter shouting for me and that did really cheer me up. I attempted to deal with the front tire. I didn’t see any major damage so thought I would try a CO2. I messed it up as the valve was left open on the inflator, so it all just came out on my hand. Then I tried to find a track pump, and was able to borrow one from a nice crew person. I pumped for what seemed like ages, meanwhile my daughter was chasing out my Camelbak bladder and my food as we had rehearsed. A race staff member came over and helped spin my tire and check if it was leaking. It seemed ok so I went on my way. At this point I knew I was well behind 10:30 pace. I probably only lost a few minutes due to the tire, but was pretty stressed out by the whole series of events.

Columbine Climb (mile 43) - 7.5 miles, 3100ft, elevation 11400ft. I pedaled the first 5 miles during which time I didn’t feel good. NP of 166W during this section, but also a steady decrease. My stomach was not great and I had pains in chest. I stopped twice near the bottom to check my tire. I even tried to put a plug in, but it appeared to have fully sealed by then. I decided to take it as easy as possible while still progressing to the top. It would feel like I was putting in some ok power, but the Garmin told me it was low despite the effort. I think the chest pain was combination of the stress and that I had consumed too much caffeine in the various products. I decided to no longer eat anything with caffeine. After the first 5 miles it steepened and it was 50/50 hiking and biking to the summit. Stomach felt worse as I went up the mountain. Also, my drink tasted weird because it had been out for a long time not refrigerated. It was about 2 hours and 10 minutes to the top. I just tried to get back down as soon as possible. Fun to see pros racing down, not fun to see stupid age-groupers taking chances high-speed over-taking inches from people going up. Definitely a crazy part of the race. Reached turnaround at 6:07, behind a 12 hour finish, so would have to negative split the race.

Columbine Descent (mile 51) - I did not stop at the aid station at the summit. The descent was non-eventful for me (the best kind). It took about 25 minutes.

Twin Lakes Aid Station Inbound - I stopped again, replacing my bottle and foods, though I hadn’t consumed much of what I had taken. It was a quick stop as I knew I needed to motor on.

Twin Lakes to Pipeline Aid Station (mile 61) - 12.5 miles, 500ft, 1 hour 15 minutes, NP 140W, Max 639W. This was a slog. I was a little bit bonking as I really could not take anything in other than sips of Nuun. Power noticeably down from the planned 180W for a section like this. It was also getting quite hot during this section. Garmin has a high of 88 degrees. I did not stop at the aid station.

Pipeline to Powerline (mile 73) - About 5.5 miles, pretty flat, NP - only 130W! Really suffering here.

Powerline climb (mile 79.5) - 3.4 miles, 1300ft gain to 11100ft, 1 hour 7 minutes. 50/50 biking and hiking sufferfest. Three quarters of the way up it started raining, thunder and cold (43 degrees). I stopped to put on arm warmers and vest again. I should have staged a rain jacket at Pipeline and picked it up. A lot of very cold people with no extra clothing. Just trying to not lose time on the hiking and keep moving to the top and the finish.

Sugarloaf descent (mile 83) - -1100ft, 5 miles. Basically these section was just ridiculously cold from being wet and moving fast. I remember the trail sections being very rough in places. But the main challenge was dealing with being cold and shivering on a high speed descent.

Turquoise Lake to Carter’s Summit (mile 88) - 2.75 miles, 667ft on road, NP 168W. I knew I had to push here, also I was cold and wanted to warm up, so I actually “enjoyed” this climb and felt better. Power was much better and started to catch and pass quite a few people. I took some coke at the top, but never stopped. My stomach was recovering slowly after the Powerline climb.

Carter’s Summit to finish (mile 92) - Not much to say here. At the base of the St Kevins climb, I calculated that I was going to make 12 hours barring any major disasters. So I just rode it out. I knew about the horrible rocky climb at about mile 101 at the start of “the boulevard”. It sucked as expected. I was completely out of gas by the finish, didn’t push, just pedaled, but made it in under the 12 hours limit that was my main goal.

Finish (mile 104) - 11:38:52. Super happy to make it in under 12 hours.


  1. I think 300 calories/hour was too much on the day.
  2. I should have added water to my drinks on the morning of the race to avoid them getting funky.
  3. Check CO2 inflator is in the closed position beforehand.
  4. Should have taken on a jacket before Pipeline climb, trusting the forecast of rain later in the day.
  5. Paced too hard Powerline to Pipeline trying to stay with/form a group.
  6. Too much caffeine early in race.


  1. I didn’t blow up/bonk despite very low intake of fuel in second half.
  2. I was able to keep motivated and pushing going up Columbine despite being quite stressed out by the whole Twin Lakes Dam fiasco.
  3. I made some good decisions around managing my stomach and chest pains. Switching to mostly Nuun only to try to at least hydrate and no caffeine.
  4. I am most happy with my Turquoise Lake to Carter’s climb. I think I saved my race here. I could have lost a lost of time had I ridden at 130W NP, but was able to do 168W. The long endurance training rides definitely helped here.


Great write up and I think your race that day epitomizes the “Dig Deep!” mentality of Leadville. You had a tough first half and came back with a negative split in the second half despite some additional challenges. You ended up finishing well clear of the 12 hour mark in the process.

I’d say “Job well done” and way to tough it out and show your grit. With the lessons learned it will only help you the next time around.

I attended the live Adventure Stash podcast hosted by Payson McElveen after the racers meeting. Someone in the crowd asked a question about nutrition and doing around 400 calories or so an hour and I was surprised that the experienced panelists all said “Don’t do it”. Payson and Rebecca Rusch both said to try and do closer to 250 calories. I routinely do 400 calories on long training rides locally but I think the intensity and altitude in Leadville changes things up a bit. The Nuun sounds like it helped you. In my next long events I’m going to try mixing in a little more plain water between mix in an effort to keep things hypotonic in the gut to promote absorption.


doing BB again this year?

@elliotg898 nope, don’t even want to be tempted with a Leadville coin :smiley: Are you?

Fourth leadville attempt goal sub 9 … had a plan 290watts on climbs 250 average on flats for first half and then go with what I have on second half. FTP sea level 345 around 290 at 10000. 3.8 watts per kilo. Very frustrated as I felt like pacing was spot on all day pipeline out 2:00 twin lake 2:44. Made turn at 4:40. Back inbound twin lake 5:15. But fell shy of big buckle again by 20 min. A 20 min PR great but still feel unsatisfied 9:20… and not sure what else to do… went much deeper in the race before fading but mid Powerline had nothing and was 5 min off pace usually crack on columbine … out bound weighted power 256 outbound coming home 198 whole race was 223 ish. Over al this came out to be .7 IF…I’m 200 lbs and feel this is my limiter but not sure path to lose 10-15 more pounds

49 weeks till 2020 have a coin and corral starting red help??? Tips on weight loss???
Pace even slower outbound?
Looking for suggestion on how to get the pla de grande??? Go for forum help!!


What do you estimate is your body fat % at 200lbs?

Agree, how tall and composition?

This was my second Leadville (first one in 2013 and finished in 9:22). I am 6’1” and weighed 152 lbs on race day. I had 1x11 (32 x 42 was my easiest gear). I think gearing was my biggest limiter and I had to grind up the top of Columbine and beginning of Powerline. Raced a bunch with @Jonathan so that was fun. Lost a bunch of time on descents with hard tail. Pushed hard at end and finished 8:17. I did negative split which is pretty cool. No power meter on this bike just watched HR to make sure I did not go too high on climbs until about halfway up Columbine. After that point I did not regulate it at all just pushed as hard as I could whenever I felt less pressure on the pedals. Also, used drop bags, had no support crew this time :frowning:

I would say weight loss would be the difference to get that big belt buckle for you if you %fat is not ideal.


200 lbs, 6’2, and 15-18% … two years back started training at 235lbs so have made progress but seem to plateau for last year…

Matthew Regan
Senior Territory Manager

Oncology Division

Bristol Myers Squibb

#1. Log all of your food. Literally all of it. Even a bite of shredded cheese from the bag (a personal weakness of mine)
#2. Weigh in every day, but look at the rolling 7-day average.

This should make you more aware of all of the food you are eating. You’ll probably lose a few pounds just from doing this.

#3. Figure out your BMR, either with an online calculator or go get a Dexa scan.

#4. As a daily calorie target for when you are not working out, try to eat just above this target. For example, my BMR is around 1700 calories, so I shoot for around 1800 on off days.

You’ll probably lose some more by doing this.

#5. Increase the quality of your diet. Swap the bad stuff for the good stuff. You know what I mean. Stop the alcohol, fries, donuts. For me, it’s just easier to go cold turkey. I don’t crave if after a few months.

Probably a few more here.

#6. See where you are again here. How much weight and fat have you lost?

Are you happy with your weight here? If not, go to 7.

#7. Talk to a nutritionist

I went from 205 to 155 doing the above.

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How about for workout days? Do you just add your kJ burned to 1,800?

With your FTP you would probably be better of going into maintenance mode for riding and focus hard on getting your BF% down. Pretty big difference between 15 & 18, if you have a DEXA scan available near you it’s worth the money if you really want to dial in your weight loss.

You’ve proven with that FTP that you don’t have any power issues. Shoot for a 3% reduction in BF based on where you think you are. IF you get a DEXA and are higher, a 5% reduction might be in order. A solid 8 week fat loss plan could do a world of good for you. Any loss in power you would have plenty of time to regain.

Depends on the type of workout and this is where things get tougher, because you are trying to balance adaptation, recovery and weightloss.

General guideline is eat enough to fuel and recover from your workouts, which usually means there is still a deficit.

I try to replace around 50% of the calories I burn in a workout on a given day, unless its a short endurance or easy ride.

I am. Already have a coin for next year, although at this point my recovery from this years’ leadville is going slower than anticipated lol

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Thanks all for the tips. I will implement them and keep you posted. Hope to see you all on 6th and Harrison 2020!

Fabulous video put out by Rapha Films on 08-19 that begins with the history of the race. The video then follows Lachlan Morton and Alex Howes from Education First with commentary provided by them and Taylor Phinney. A fun watch.


Good vid. Still amazed by Quinn Simmons who came in 2nd at age 18

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