When the shotgun goes off this Saturday morning signaling the start of the Leadville 100, I’ll roll out all alone in a sea of 1,500 other racers. I will pedal the fifty miles to the top of Columbine Mine and the fifty miles back all by myself. No one but me will push my bike up the Powerline. No one but me will turn those pedals over to get me to the finish line. It’s easy to think I’m in this alone, but really, that’s just an illusion.
I do not ride alone.
Karydes got the ball rolling way back in 2006 by inviting me to train for and ride our first century together, the MS 150. The team we organized for that ride (Team Climb On!) has raised over $50,000 in the fight against MS since then. Oh, and we completed the ride in style…
Dr. Hodges, Alpha Dave and the rest of the Mighty Descenders showed me what riding hard was really all about. Getting invited to their Monster Climbs trip in 2008 was a breakthrough experience. Suddenly, I could pedal all day, up mountains and down.
Marcos kicked it up a notch by suggesting that I race – “You should race, you’ll do great.” Suddenly it was all possible and we began cycling at a whole new level. Later he’d remark that we should, “Mix it up a bit to keep it fresh, maybe do some MTB rides.” That would be how I started MTB racing and entered my name into the 2009 Leadville lottery.
After winning last year’s Leadville lottery, I was terrified – what had I gotten myself into?!?! Having DMoz crew for me and Bazza and Daphne join me at the race made it all possible. Their support and encouragement sped me along my race and helped me finish strong. I’m very much looking forward to sharing this beautiful race with my wife and kids this year.
Racing Julian Death March this year was crucial to my Leadville training plan. Riding alongside guys like Mickey, Dr. Hodges and Sam taught me what “Never quit!” really means. I’ll never forget watching Sam struggle against The Bonk without giving in and how Mickey finished his JDM within minutes of the final cutoff because he just wouldn’t quit – no matter what. I could not have done as well as I did without these guys.
Having training partners, nah… having Dirt Bros like Marcos, Mickey and Karydes have allowed me to take ultra-endurance cycling to a new level. Heading out into the pouring rain for a 40-mile MTB ride with 5,000 feet of climbing is a great way to get strong. I can always count on a hard ride and “never give up attitude” every weekend. The way we encourage each other to go hard and push our boundaries makes us all stronger.
And of course, the Family… Always there, supporting me to ride countless hours even to the point of organizing our vacation calendar around cycling events. Putting up with stinky kit hanging from the banister and a sore, sleepy Dad every Saturday afternoon.
When I finally roll back onto 6th Avenue, at mile 103.5 on Saturday, I’ll be thinking about all the people who helped make this day happen. Thank you.