Monday, June 10, 2013

Leadville Training Weekend

I am a firm believer that I can ride and run all around the Pikes Peak region all that I want but until I get my feet (or tires) on the ground in Lake County and on the Leadville race courses it is pretty darned tough to gauge exactly where things stand.  So with that in mind and planning to escape the imminent heat in COS, Melissa and Asia and I headed up to Leadville for the weekend.

My Saturday plan was to ride as much of the Silver Rush 50 course as possible.  My plan B if snow became too much of an issue on the east side of town was to hit the Power Lines and Sugarloaf on the bike as well.  Things were off to a rocky start from the go Saturday morning as my Garmin battery was completely drained so I had to leave it at the hotel.  I rode from the hotel to the ski hill which is the start of the SR50 MTB and where you have to push your bike up the hill.  Here comes the second slap in the face (or sap to to the back of the head) as that hill SUCKS!  I don't know how long it took me to get the bike to the top, but it had to be somewhere between three and five minutes.  SR50 reality check number one.

After some serious guessing and shaky route finding I made it from the start to the course and headed up towards Iowa Gulch.  Basically this is the first big chunk of the race either running or riding and it is ten miles gaining altitude the entire way all the way up to 12K or so.  And guess what?  It is NOT easy.  I am sure it was a combination of things Saturday morning like the cool temps, lots of run off, wind, and dodging snow banks higher up in the drainage but that climb up was tough.  I learned what baby heads actually are and that road is littered with rocks loose and otherwise.   SR50 reality check number two.  It's gonna be damned hard.

I made it to the top of Iowa Gulch pretty much but had to do a creative portage with the bike up a really steep scree slope to get to the higher road because of snow.  This was not a lot of fun either but once I got on the road I was flying at high speeds towards what will the Printer Boy aid station come race day.  Descents like this is where time will be made up.  I rode past Printer Boy, made a wrong turn and ended up back down in Iowa Gulch again and decided to say screw it... bomb back to town, warm up and have lunch and consider plan B.

After lunch Melissa rode her bike with me down to the Power Lines to see it.  She rode back to town as I went on up to the top of Sugarloaf with the bike.  I'd say of the 3.5 miles up, I rode the bike 70% of the way and ended up pushing it a lot less than I thought I might.  The great thing about going up the Power Line side is that the higher you get, the easier it gets.  I made the top in about an hour.  After a gel and putting on another layer, time for the big test.  Riding down.

I can't really describe how much fun the descent down is. When I got to the bottom though I know I was like a kid who just got off of a ride at the amusement park wanting to make a bee-line right back and do it again.  It was a blast and a for as much as the morning was learning experience, riding the second part of the day was a huge confidence builder.  It took me 20 minutes to make it from the top of Sugarloaf to the hard road.  3.5 minutes to descend the actual power line section from the first false summit down.  That was right about in the time frame I was hoping for. Rode back to town via the boulevard and was pretty happy.

Sunday morning I was definitely feeling Saturday.  The plan called for a double crossing of Sugarloaf starting over to Mayqueen and back.  Meslissa actually was with with me and she kicked ass (mine) going up the Powerlines much of the way.   I just was not feeling it on Sunday morning and most of the first hour or so was hiking more than running.  It helped having her with as I said, motivation was in the gutter.  We parted ways and she went back to the Jeep and then was going back to town.  I proceed to run down to Mayqueen and even on the downhill side just wasn't getting into the run or feeling all that great.

But after the turn around the run changed... I had more water from the campground, had some gels and started back.  I had a pretty solid run all the way from MQ, through the Colorado Trail, Haggerman Road and then headed up Sugarloaf.  More coolness as I got to meet Kiki, another Lead-person in training who was riding up the same direction I was running! She rode, I ran, and we talked the whole way up Sugarloaf and even part ways down the other side.  She had ridden parts of the SR50 course the day before and had the same reactions that I did.  The run back across was much different than the earlier one and I bet it is a new PR for me for that stretch. (Thanks for pulling me along Kiki.)

After a post run pizza and a milkshake (fuck the diet) followed by a nap then a long walk with Asia had us leaving Leadville very late.  It was a good call though as it was nice to drive home hours after the traffic had died down and it was cooler.

A great weekend.  I am still feeling it.  I learned a lot.  Especially that I am going to have to really focus on the SR50 course the week after the Marathon.  Riding in Leadville at altitude is a lot tougher than I imagined... but I am still pretty fit and I think all of the elements are there to pull this Leadman thing off. 

Melissa and I at the bottom of the Power Lines Saturday.

Me before heading up.  No idea how this would play out on the bike!
Taking a break on top of Sugarloaf.  Call it one hour up... 20 minutes total down and 3.5 minutes down the last steep pitch of power lines...

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