Friday night, Tom, Steve, and I drove to Leadville to volunteer at the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. From our original team of five last year, only Phil Schweizer was riding this year.
We worked with Gary and Linda Adams' team at the Twin Lakes aid station. Tom and I had volunteered with Gary and Linda at the Mayqueen station of the 100 mile ultramarathon run last year. The volunteers of these Leadville events are an amazing example of what happens when people come together. One local who would probably prefer to remain unnamed told me, "Like most small towns, there's a lot of fussing and fighting, but we call a truce in the summer to make these races happen."
The primary drama of course, was the appearance of Lance Armstrong, coming off three weeks of serious altitude training in nearby Aspen. Colorado home boy and perennial winner Dave Wiens was his usual low-key self, not taking his legendary status seriously. Others will write about the details of the race, I'll just hit the highlights.
As we were approaching the cutoff for the 60 mile mark, we got the word--ten mile from the finish, Dave Wiens powered up and left Armstrong to enjoy his own company. Dave crossed the finish line in 6:45.47, thirteen minutes faster than his victory over Floyd Landis last year. Oh, and he rode the last mile on a flat rear tire.
Lance was 1:56 behind, then it was another thirty minutes before the third place rider showed up.
Other friends and acquaintances were there. Our teammate Phil Schwiezer overcame a crash that necessitated a complete wheel change, and a flat to still enjoy a PR of 8:20 and change. This was his first race in the 50 plus group, and he placed 4th in class. It was a tough, disappointing finish for Larry DeWitt, who broke a frame just days before the race and competed on a borrowed bike. Rob Lucas is on the comeback trail after a long recoveryfrom the damage done a few years back in the Race Across America. The Fat Cylist was there, finishing in just a hair over 10 hours on a single-speed. If you follow his blog, you'll know this is after losing his wife, Susan, to breast cancer just a few months ago. I can't find final results yet, but 74-year-old Bill Purcell was looking strong at 60 miles. Last year was the first time he failed to make the 12 hour cutoff, so he was back to make amends.
There are hundreds of other stories of personal heroics and tragedy, which is what makes this race so special. As for me, it was a tough day. I had just about come to terms with last year's failure, but now, after experiencing the magic again, I am struggling with inner conflict. After training my butt off last year, even if I hadn't experienced mechanical failure, I would have had a hard time making the later time cutoffs. Which is what happens when you take up a sport in your late 40s that others have given their lives to. My technical skills are inadequate for riding fast in such tight company on such sketchy terrain. My bike is wholly inadequate for this kind of riding. And in spite of the weight I lost, there's at least 25 more that could come off. All of these come in the category of "so-what" excuses that could be overcome. Not by next year, but in a 2-3 year plan. So I have to decide if I want to live with regret, or get a plan together and get busy.