Posted on 12:06 PM by Schottler

I've been out here for nearly 2 weeks now, and I don't want to leave. The weather, scenery, rides, and the vibe puts this trip right at the top of my list of racing vacations. I have set a new standard for perfect weather. Seriously, 40ish while sleeping and then immediately to 75 once breakfast is done. 40% humidity, sunny, and perfect. I have met a lot of cool people who are all at the same level of excitement, it makes for a great atmosphere. This is one of the things I love about mountain racing, everyone is always happy and excited.

I've been here for 13 nights now, 2 nights in Winter Park for Crankworx, 4 nights camping, 1 night at my buddies, 3 nights camping, 1 night at a hotel, 1 night in Breck with Garth, 1 night camping, and now it will be 4 nights at a condo with Green Beans and Meg to top off the resting. I bought a 3.5" thick thermorest and a new sleeping bag, which have actually made camping WAY more comfortable than I thought. I've been sleeping between 8-10 hours a night and riding about every day. Camping has turned out to be a great idea, I was somewhat hesitant due to the amount of sleeping that's required to acclimate, but it has worked out well. Sitting in a hotel room for this long would have driven me crazy, and you don't actually get to experience anything other than sitting in front of a TV. Sitting at my campsite in my camp chair with my legs up while drinking some french press coffee and reading a book was one of the most relaxing things I have ever done. If I wasn't riding, I was sitting down and eating and reading.

I seriously haven't read a book since Freshman year, so it was a good change. I think I am hooked. I read World War Z, by Max Brooks and Physics of the Future, by Michio Kaku. Both were awesome, and both got dominated in about 7 days of camping. I am currently reading a couple of books on nutrition that ProPam let me barrow, good stuff!

As for the riding, I have pretty much preridden the entire Leadville course 3 times, minus Columbine, which has been done once. So, I am prepared for each section. I know where to hit the gas, recover, and where to take risks if I need too. Preriding this much makes the course seem much shorter and each section a lot easier than they will be during the race. I think I am also getting used to the altitude now, I am FINALLY able to skyrocket my heart rate and comfortably keep it there. I can recover quickly and finally put down some power on the long climbs. I am starting to feel like myself at altitude, which is really pumping me up. Mentally and physically, I am as ready as I am going to get. I know what is in store, what I am capable of, and what I have to do.

Here is powerline. The 'Race Across the Sky' movies made it seem this is the only climb on this section of the course... this is the easy part, 20% gradient. Easy to ride when preriding, the race will probably be a bit different.
Here's a better picture of what the descent looks like, it's a bit sketchy. The ruts will push you off the course if you aren't paying attention to the good lines. This will not be a spot for me to take risks.

Top of Columbine, 3,000+ vertical feet of climbing. This was also pretty easy while preriding, it will not be easy during the race.

When I got out here I raced Crankworx in Winter Park. I lined up behind Jeremy Horgan Kobelksi and stayed with the lead group about half way up the 1,300 foot climb and got dropped, hard. I suffered the whole race, the long climbs and altitude killed me. I made up all of my time on the descents and flat sections, finishing 19th, which was about midpack. Only 4 minutes out of a top ten, oh well.

I am excited for the race, but stressing about the start. There is something like 1,500 people racing, with many heavy hitters. I haven't done the race before, so I don't get a front 100 start. I am going to have to sweet talk some people at registration to give me the wristband which gives me a spot towards the front. Otherwise, I am going to be burning matches trying to position myself on the paved descent to the first climb of the race, not good. Getting in a front group that I can ride with is very important for the gravel and road sections. Otherwise I will most likely be TT'ing solo trying to bridge up to riders, which would really suck. I've had people tell me that they think I can finish in 7:30, but I have set the goal of 8:00. 7:30 would put me in a top 25 finish, which would be epic. If my back stays together, have some good legs, and get a good start, I think it is possible.

In addition to riding and hanging out by myself this whole trip, I got a call from Garth Prosser, who is doing this race for the 11th time. We hung out the last couple days and put in some good rides on the course. Bestowing vasts amounts of knowledge that one can only accumulate over such an extensive endurance racing career. Pretty awesome to hear his stories and pick his brain. He basically told me that if I am going to beat him, he wants me to really beat him, which resulted in secrets. We also met up with Jeremiah Bishop, which was cool. I talked to him for a bit and donated a tube to his failing rear tire, he told me that the race is really decided up powerline and telegraph. Super bummed I missed Garth's call the first day he was out here, I would have got to ride up Columbine with him, Yuki Ikeda, and Rebecca Rusch.
Colorado stream ice bath:

It's Wednesday now, I rode for 30 minutes this morning to keep my legs loose and am taking tomorrow off. Friday I'll ride for probably an hour with a few short hard efforts. Saturday is game day. As Butthead says, I am done studying.

I don't care what some of you say, the course is awesome. I am sorry it is not pure singletrack, but I would rather be riding this stuff. Gravel roads are my favorite to train on, so why not race it? 1,500 people on all singletrack? No thanks.

Don't make me go back to Missouri.


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