My Secret Leadville Plan

by Arlyn on August 2, 2010

I finished the 2009 Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race in 11 hours and 24 minutes, and I have to say I am rather proud of that. This 100-mile MTB race is aptly nicknamed “Race Across the Sky” for starting above 10,000’ and topping out well over 12,000’. It took everything I had to finish under the cutoff and earn my Silver Buckle.

My 2009 Leadville 100 Silver Buckle wants a little brother. I’ll do my best to deliver.

This year, I want to go faster. I’ve thought long and hard about what I want to accomplish this year, and since I’m one of those “you gotta say it to create it” kind of guys, here it is…

I will finish the 2010 Leadville 100 an hour faster than last year.

Yes, finding 60 minutes on the Leadville course will be difficult. And, just saying so doesn’t make it happen, but I do have a secret plan. And since my plan is secret I’ll share it with you here. Just don’t tell anyone else, especially Lance – ok?

A Year’s Training

After winning the race lottery last year, I hired a coach to help me train. We had just enough time to work together for me to fully understand the benefit of coaching. This year I have a whole additional season of training under my belt and I have data to prove that I’m faster and stronger this year.

I’m confident that training with CTS helped me earn my Silver Buckle last year.

Data is a big part of my training regimen and all indicators are up. My long-term endurance power is higher and much longer. My short burst power is also higher and I’m able to recover and go again faster and more often than last year.

I’ve also raced a few key endurance events this year that point to success. I finished the 86-mile, 12,000’ Julian Death March this year when last year I bailed at mile 62. I also finished this years’ Triple Bypass an hour faster than last year.

After crunching all these numbers, I am confident that my training this year will take 23 minutes off my Leadville time.

Pacing and Experience

Hey, I’ve “been there and done that.” Experience is a huge advantage and even though I was able to preview the course last year, nothing could prepare me for racing over 11 hours in the Rocky Mountains. And previewing the course again this year was a great opportunity to refine my ideas and approach to racing Leadville.

One of the biggest breakthroughs that came from my preview trip last month was about how to properly pace the two hardest climbs, Columbine and Powerline. Instead of trying to hammer these climbs (and then explode), I’m going to set a reasonable pace to stay moving and feeling good. I’ll spin over the top quietly instead of trying to “stamp my authority” on these vicious climbs.

The infamous Powerline.

Between my experience on course and new approach to pacing and nutrition, I’m sure I can steal back 19 minutes over last years’ time.

My Racing Machine

Last year I raced a 2007 Santa Cruz Blur LT which is a very sturdy and capable all-mountain bike. With an aluminum frame and up to 160mm of travel, it was a solid and totally inappropriate racing platform for Leadville. My Santa Cruz was for sale within hours of finishing Leadville.

Searching for a new bike to race Leadville, I looked no further than the winner’s bike. Sure, I considered a lot options, but in the end, the Trek Top Fuel won out for being super light and rigid with a gruppo made for XC racing. I love the fact that it’s a 10-speed double instead of a 9-speed triple. And being an easy 6 pounds lighter than my Santa Cruz, it is super responsive and climbs like a goat.

My Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL doing what it does best – looking good.

Many say that a full-travel bike is not the way to go at Leadville, but I really appreciate the ability to climb smoothly while sitting and being able to hammer the bumps without hovering over the saddle wasting my legs. I firmly believe that modern suspension systems have effectively minimized power loss from the “bounce” and more than make up for it with better traction, handling and more comfortable ride.

I’m confident that my new racing machine will save me 12 minutes this year.

Friends and Family

I had a fantastic support crew last year headed by my longtime friend DMoz. Having a dedicated crew chief at the start and Twin Lakes gave me the support, confidence and encouragement I needed to finish the race last year. I also traveled to Leadville with my dear friends Bazza and Daphne who roamed the race course shooting some really great photos of me and the event. It made all the difference in the world to have such great friends supporting me in the days before and during the race.

The great news this year is that they are coming back with me to Leadville to help me race again. And as a bonus, my wife and kids will be there as well. It’s going to be a huge boost to have my family with me, both in motivation to do well and excitement to share this beautiful race. I’m looking forward to seeing my family at the finish line – and how cool would it be to pull off what Wiens did last year – cross the finish line with my kids? Outstanding!

Dave Wiens finishing the 2009 Leadville 100 with his boys. Photo courtesy DavidWiens.com & Kurt Hoy/singletrack.com.

How much faster will I go having the best support crew in the world and my family by my side? I’m convinced exactly 6 minutes faster.

My Secret Plan

So that’s the secret plan I’ve been developing all year long. I’ve shaved exactly 60 minutes off my Leadville time. All that’s left to do now is race. See you in Leadville, look out for #126!

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