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.
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.
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)
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.
- I think 300 calories/hour was too much on the day.
- I should have added water to my drinks on the morning of the race to avoid them getting funky.
- Check CO2 inflator is in the closed position beforehand.
- Should have taken on a jacket before Pipeline climb, trusting the forecast of rain later in the day.
- Paced too hard Powerline to Pipeline trying to stay with/form a group.
- Too much caffeine early in race.
- I didn’t blow up/bonk despite very low intake of fuel in second half.
- I was able to keep motivated and pushing going up Columbine despite being quite stressed out by the whole Twin Lakes Dam fiasco.
- 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.
- 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.