As a first timer at Leadville 100 MTB race I was a nervous flurry of doubt. Tires, hydration, clothing, nutrition, weather, and of course, the course! After realizing I had to be there for packet pickup and pre-race meeting a full 24 before I thought I needed to be there, I packed up quickly, forgetting my rain jacket. BTW, the first reminder on the race packet said not to even try to attempt the race without said jacket. The night before the race, as I lay down in my RV, the rain pounded the roof. How did I forget the jacket? What was in store for me the next day if it rained? Doubt loomed like the big storm clouds above.
My pre-ride of the first 10 miles of the course did not give me an easy feeling. My legs were heavy, matching my breathing. Starting a race at over 10,000 ft. elevation is a challenge in itself, when that race is 104 miles (NOT 100), with 12,500 ft. of climbing, that brings in another whole dynamic in physical capabilities. And I was seriously wondering why I had chosen to come to Leadville.
The morning broke chilly but clear. My starting corral was packed. The shotgun went off and so did we. Now, I have no idea where the 9 1/2 hours went during that day. I remember it all but in a compressed time. It was surreal. I stopped once for a couple minutes. The rest of the day was pedaling, pedaling, pedaling, or in some places pushing my bike. I saw wounded warriors with prosthetic limbs, sometimes passing me. I mostly watched the ground below me pass. I felt like I was dying so many times I can’t count. The miles and time passed as if in a dream. My legs cramped and ached. Why do we do such things? I can’t explain.
But I did, we did, almost 1500 people did, including a 79 year old man. Talk about Bravado! The last few days have been a struggle to get out of bed. I swore after the race it was a “one and done” deal. Now all I can think about is trying to beat 9 hours and getting the bigger belt buckle. Can I do it? No idea. What if I fail? What if it rains? What if I never tried again? Damn that race, the one I wanted to do until Lance did it. Love and Hate. Pain and Reward. Life and Death. Should have never done it, cause now….well, now I have the worst kind of doubt. Could I have done better?