Deja vu all over again??
Jim says this was almost identical to his
first conversation with me last week after I crashed his mountain bike on a
road near Silverton. I was talking to him (and other first responders at the
scene) but had no clue what had caused me to wreck, and I didn't even remember
those conversations later.
But this time it wasn't me. It was one of the female participants in the
Leadville Trail 100-mile bike race yesterday. She was carried down to our crew
station on one of
several Search & Rescue ATVs used during the race to keep tabs on riders and
cart out injured ones from locations that were inaccessible to an ambulance
and/or unsafe for larger vehicles to drive because of the large numbers of
bikes on the narrow dirt roads.
Jim and I were assigned to radio/communications duties at the West Granite crewing
location about 43 miles into the race. It is not an aid station but a critical
turn riders make on the way out and back in the ten-mile section between the
Twin Lakes and Columbine Mine aid stations.
Twin Lakes and Columbine Mine are the two aid stations
near the bottom of this map.
The bike course (in red) goes out-and-back, starting and finishing in
Leadville at the top right.
This year crews were encouraged to
assist their riders at West Granite in addition to Twin Lakes, which has become a bottleneck
with all the vehicles parked there (the same thing happens to a lesser
extent during the LT100 run, which is held a week later). Since there were
several hundred more registrants in the bike race this year (a reported 1500 vs
1200) it was important to try to spread out the crews and their vehicles more
evenly along the course.
Readers who are more familiar with the LT100 foot race may not realize that
the bike course uses only a few of the same miles as the run. The bike race
doesn't have much single-track trail. It stays mostly on paved and dirt roads.
Cyclists are on paved roads from the start to Mayqueen Campground and beyond. They do go
up Hagerman Road and down the infamous power line from Sugarloaf Pass to Half
Moon Road but they don't ride the two sections of the Colorado Trail that
runners use. The Twin Lakes and Columbine Mine sections are also totally different
than in the run, which tops out at the same height (12,600 feet) on Hope Pass a
bit farther west.
Nor do the cyclists go to the old ghost town of Winfield.
In both the bike race and the run, Twin Lakes is about 40 miles into the
race on the outbound and about 60 miles inbound; the locations of the
aid stations are not the same, however. Columbine Mine is the turnaround point
in the bike race at 50 miles. That's the aid station where Jim and I have
previously worked for several years.
Closer view of he Twin Lakes and Columbine Mine aid
I marked our crew station spot at West Granite with an
arrow and "WG."
The West Granite crewing and communications station to which we were assigned this year is
located about three miles beyond the Twin Lakes full aid station and seven
miles below the fully-stocked aid station at Columbine Mine. Outbound, it's a
gradual but unrelenting climb of 3,200 feet over ten miles from Twin Lakes to
the turnaround. There is a total of 14,000-15,000 feet of elevation gain in the
bike race and the same amount of elevation loss.
Cyclists ride on mostly double-track dirt roads to our intersection at
approximately 43 miles into the race and about 9,400 feet in elevation. After
they make the critical turn onto Lost Canyon Road at our location, they
switchback another seven miles up the increasingly rocky, rutted 4WD road to
the Columbine Mine aid station at 12,600 feet. It always took our volunteer convoy
of 4WD trucks and SUVs a long time
to negotiate that rough road before and after the race, particularly above tree line. It would be equally difficult to ride on a bike, I'm sure -- even
coming back down at a much faster pace than the riders go up.
How much faster? According to the aid station splits, it took Lance
Armstrong 65+ minutes to ride ten miles uphill from the Twin Lakes to the
Columbine Mine aid stations and only 26+ minutes to go back down!
moving on rough terrain like this. These aren't paved roads like he
rides in the Tour de France.
ROCKIN' AND ROLLIN'
Some less skilled riders didn't fare as well.
During the race we saw a total of five Search & Rescue ATVs head up Lost
Canyon Road to keep tabs on the riders. This is one of them taking a tangent
through the sage brush to avoid cyclists on the course at our turn:
Three cyclists got ATV rides back down after having problems between
our location and Columbine Mine. Jim heard on the radio that some others came
down in vehicles. Only the lady mentioned above was too injured to continue on
the ATV over to Twin Lakes. She was in a C-Collar (cervical neck brace) when
she got to our location at West Granite and was in sufficient pain (neck and
chest), had a very low oxygen count, and had enough head trauma to not remember
what happened . . . that she was held at our location until an ambulance could come
for her. Her ride to St. Vincent's Hospital in Leadville was much more
comfortable on the cushioned stretcher than it would have been if she'd had to
ride on the back of an ATV any further.
On the way out to West Granite that morning, Jim asked me not to tell anyone
about his EMT skills unless there was an emergency. His role was to man the
radio, not treat anyone for cuts or abrasions. (No medical folks were assigned
specifically to that location.) When this woman came down on the ATV, however,
he was not busy on the radio and he wanted to see if he could be of any help.
He also assisted a crew person who was suffering from the altitude.
Rider down: Pat Homelvig, Jim, and Bill
Moyer talk with the EMT on the ATV (hidden behind Jim)
and the cyclist (in neck brace) after
calling for an ambulance to evacuate the patient.
I distorted the cyclist's face and hair to help protect
Jim felt more useful in the half hour he was attending to the injured female cyclist
for the ambulance than the other seven or eight hours he worked the
radio. We were not doing any timing of the riders at that location, only
emergency communication. Fortunately, this was the only emergency.
The EMT on the ATV had a neck brace and blood pressure
cuff that he was able to use on the patient but he lacked some other equipment
and supplies that Jim had in our truck. He welcomed Jim's
assistance. One apparatus Jim had, a pulse oximeter, was useful because it
showed that the woman needed oxygen ASAP. (After my wreck, my oxygen level was
in the high 90s where it was supposed to be. Hers was in the low 80s, well
below normal. She was having difficulty breathing but neither Jim nor the EMT on the ATV
had any oxygen.)
An ambulance from St. Vincent Hospital
and two vehicles from Leadville Fire & Rescue showed up.
By this time, most of the crew cars were gone along the
roadway. If you drove one of them, NOW you
know why the course monitors wanted you to park on
one side only (some folks didn't want to comply).
When the ambulance arrived, Jim helped the crew put her on a backboard,
stabilize her head, and lift her into the ambulance. The EMTs on board got her
hooked up to oxygen and a saline drip pretty quickly. We'll probably never know
how she fared (those pesky HIPPA regulations!) but we hope her head and spinal
CTs showed she was OK to be released from the hospital.
I tried not to be too obvious as I watched all this going on about twenty
feet away. I didn't go over to her; I didn't think that was appropriate
since I didn't know her and had no medical skills that would help. But I felt a
kinship to her and had more than a little curiosity to see how her case was
handled, knowing Jim and the EMTs from Silverton had done some of the same
rapid assessment and handling procedures as these folks were doing with this
Jim (kneeling at far right, in black shirt and khaki
pants) helps stabilize the patient on a backboard.
Even though she was coherent and talking to people after her wreck -- as I
did -- I wonder if she'll remember later that bumpy ATV ride down the mountain,
the help she received at West Granite, or any of the first responders? None of
those approximate 30 minutes I lost have come back to me even thirteen days
later. Perhaps her only amnesia was a couple of minutes during and after her
AND THEY'RE OFF!
Over 1400 riders were chosen in the lottery (or by reputation, if they're a
top contender) for the LT100 bike ride this year, two or three hundred more
than last year. A 10% no-show rate was expected.
According to my count of the
preliminary results on the website, about 1230 cyclists began the race. It was
an awesome showing a few minutes after the 6:30 AM start when they came
whooshing around the first turn at 6th Street and McWethy Rd.
This intersection just happens to be near the edge of Jack Saunder's property and
our "campsite" each of the last five times we've been here. We can see it from
our camper windows about 300 feet away. It's almost a front-row seat to the
action of both the bike and foot races less than a mile from the start and
We decided several years ago that it'd be a lot more convenient to walk out
to that intersection and watch the cyclists soon after their start than to deal
with all the bikes and vehicles at the start line at 6th and Harrison. We did that a few times in the early 2000s and even then,
with fewer riders, it was
mass chaos. The only seeding is for the top 100 cyclists (based on the
previous year's finish times). They are permitted in a special corral at the
start but all the rest have to seed themselves according to their ability. It
must work pretty well or there would be some sort of wave start by now, the
bike race's 16th year.
Jim and I parked our truck well back on the little road that connects Jack's
driveway with McWethy and walked over to the intersection, where three course
monitors were directing traffic. We talked with Blake Wood and one of his
daughters, Heather, who were beginning a 50-mile training run on the LT run course (Heather is training for Angeles Crest 100). Blake and I -- and a bunch of
other folks --took photos of the riders as they came flying around that corner.
My photos after they made the turn (below) came out much better than the ones
coming into it (the two above).
I'm always surprised that no one goes down at this corner, but we haven't witnessed
any crashes at that point so far in three or four years. Yesterday it seemed
that the cyclists had already spaced themselves out pretty well in the first
mile on 6th Street. They were
closer than I've ever ridden in a group, but didn't seem to be aggressively
jockeying for places yet.
After we heard the gun go off, one clueless woman drove up to the
intersection and parked right next to the road. The course monitors frantically waved her off the road but she didn't
get there fast enough. Several of the cyclists who went off the pavement almost ran into her car as they
rounded the curve. In the photo below, far left, she has already moved over
several feet from where she was and you can still see how close that one
cyclist is to her:
No one got hurt this time, but the incident signifies how
dangerous cycling can be. (Just ask me!)
DRAMA IN THE SKY
During the night and early morning hours on Saturday both Jim and I were
awakened a couple times by rain on our camper roof. It was still misty and
raining lightly off and on as we waited for the race to begin. It was in the
mid-30s when we got up at 5:15 AM and still hadn't reached 40°
F. by the start of the race.
When we got up to the roadway to watch the riders zoom by, I was fascinated
with the beautiful range of mountains to the west and the storm clouds
above them. Both Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive looked like someone had shaken sugar
over their peaks during the night. While it was raining down at 10,200 feet, it
was snowing above 13,000 feet. Very cool! (literally) That probably made the
hike to the 14,430-foot summit even more challenging for the weekend warriors
who'd be climbing up the peaks that morning.
One end of the rainbow over Massive and
Elbert . . .
Even more interesting was the large rainbow we could see from McWethy Road
after the riders went by.
The other end of the rainbow farther
south (you can see it against the mountain and the clouds)
That was just the beginning of the sky drama during the
morning. The changing cloud patterns, lighting, and colors were spectacular along the
mountain range and at our West Granite location.
I took the next two photos looking west as we approached our crew station
location on Lost Canyon
I took them from our moving
We were hoping the gray clouds would stay to the south of us, but
pretty soon it was raining lightly in our valley and we could
see the ends of a double rainbow to the south, across the field from our
There are the other ends of the rainbows; you can barely see
the second arc to the right of the more prominent one:
The riders will approach from the lower
right and head toward
the campers on their way up to Columbine
To the northwest of our crew station we had a view of Elbert's snowy main peak:
Later in the morning the snow melted and it wasn't quite as
The sky looked only a little better to the north at 7 AM, the
direction from which the cyclists would be
coming in a couple of hours:
The weather kept morphing from our arrival before 7 AM to the
time we left about 3 PM. We had a couple showers, one fairly
heavy about mid-morning. I took this picture toward the east
after that storm passed over us:
It was just as bad to the west and north where many of the
riders were. Some of them got wet several times during the race.
Race day was the rainiest day we've had since our arrival a week
The wind also challenged the riders. At West Granite we had calm air in the morning and more blustery winds in the
afternoon. It got so windy we ended up taking both our canopy
and the race canopy down about noon. We
got ours down before it blew away but one of the race canopy's
supports broke in a strong gust of wind:
Jim eats breakfast and tries to stay warm
in the chilly morning air
as folks begin to arrive at our crew
After we took the canopies down, we enjoyed
the warm sun. Here Jim watches
two cyclists make the turn at 57 miles as
they head back to the finish.
Cody got to hang out with us under our canopy during the race. Although
Jim and I sat about six feet from the track on the outside of
the turn, Cody wasn't anywhere near the
riders. He could see and hear them but barely gave them a glance. He was more interested in
the folks who came over to pet him!
Not only is he a terrific Trail Dog, he's also a well-behaved
Radio Dog, Aid Station Dog, and Crew Dog. He's good at
DRAMA ON THE GROUND
Our friends Pat Homelvig and Karen Pate have captained this
crewing/directional station for several years now. Previously
there weren't many crews here and they didn't need any
additional help at the intersection. Their main job was to make
sure the riders made the correct turn outbound and inbound, keep the
road as clear as possible for the safety of everyone, and notify
HQ is there were any problems. After the last rider and sweep
came through, they took down the flagging and picked us trash
along the road and down the three
miles to Twin Lakes.
This year would be more of a challenge for them so more
volunteers were assigned to the location.
Karen told us that last year traffic control became an
issue at West Granite for the first time. Instead of being able to eat a leisurely breakfast at the
little restaurant in Granite with the Columbine Mine aid station
volunteers as they've been able to do previously, they had to hustle up to their intersection when
they saw crews heading up that way. The road is narrow and they
had to ask a bunch of people to move their cars so they were all
on one side of the road and away from the part of Lost Canyon
Road where the race course went. It was a hassle, and
they wanted to do it better this year.
Pat hands off traffic control to another
course monitor and comes back to the
crew station at the intersection; crew cars
are lined up quite a ways down the road.
Jim and I wanted to beat as many crew cars so we arrived about 7
AM. It wasn't early enough! There were already a bunch of cars
lining both sides of the road. Only one course monitor was
there, and since it was his first time there, he wasn't sure
what he was supposed to do. The
road block and cones were not set up yet. We were concerned that
things might get out of control but
we didn't know who was doing what, or even where to set up our
canopy for the radio communications. It was our first time at
this location, too. Everything eventually got sorted
out after Karen, Pat, and two more course monitors arrived.
Since we weren't doing any timing of the riders at that
location, I didn't have a specific radio or communications job to do. When that happens
I try to see what is needed and just do it. I ended up helping keep
order around the triangle where our canopies were located (the
turn at the intersection between the double-track toward Twin
Lakes and Lost Canyon Road) and helping direct crews where they
could set up their chairs and supplies for the riders.
Everyone complied well with setting up their chairs and crewing
supplies on one side of the road along the course:
There were hundreds of people at West Granite by the time the
first rider, Lance Armstrong, came through our location. Cars
were parked almost a mile down the road and crews were strung
out at least half a mile along the road and the double-track.
Karen, Pat, three course monitors, and three park service
personnel were handling vehicle parking and crew control. I only
stepped in as needed. It was important to keep the road as clear
as possible for everyone's safety -- so the riders didn't run
into anyone on the course, and so emergency vehicles could have
There were also some folks camped up the road on forest service
land that came past our location during the race. The forest
service will not close off the area to other users, despite over
twelve hundred cyclists using the narrow road this year. In addition, several
spectator on bikes headed up the road to watch the action
farther up. We didn't try to stop them. The road is open to the
public, after all. We just hoped they'd stay out of the way of
the official racers.
Karen consults with Dave, one of the course
Some people gave the course monitors and me grief because they
thought they should be exceptions, but most people behaved
I have to say, as I've commented previously about
ultra running events, the dogs were under better parental
control than some of the children! Since I was sitting/standing
right at the bumpy turn most of the time, I could see the kids
there better than the ones along Lost Canyon Road. Although we
saw only one rider go down in the loose dirt on that curve, I expected to see
more. I suggested to a couple parents parent that it might not be a
good idea for their young child(ren) to be standing -- or worse, sitting
-- on the pink ribbon marking the course around the turn.
Several adults were too close to the curve, too.
What are people thinking?? It's much more dangerous to
spectators and riders alike to be in or next to the course
during a bike race than a foot race. In a foot race it's more a
matter of respect and consideration for the runners than a safety
issue, although I've even seen runners knock over, or trip over, kids
who are in the way.
Photographers liked to hug the edge of the
Pat and Karen encountered more obnoxious folks in vehicles than
I did after they came up to the crew station. They've both learned how to be
firm and ignore personal insults. It's amazing how some people
think they should be exceptions and allowed to block the road,
even after course monitors explain that emergency
vehicles had to be able to get through. These were able-bodied
folks, not ones that truly needed to park or be let out as close as possible
because of handicaps.
Only one spectator made a fool of himself in my presence.
When riders began coming back down from Columbine Mine, there
was one 30-something guy standing next to our canopy who hollered
encouragement to some of the riders in the loudest voice I think
I've ever heard. It was like he had his own internal megaphone! Jim was having trouble hearing his radio.
I went over to the man, very politely explained to him about
Jim's role on the emergency radio, said he was having trouble
hearing over the man's yelling, and could he please cheer on the
riders a little farther up or down the course? He just about
went ballistic, cursed at me, and defiantly said that Jim could move! Some other
spectators intervened on my behalf and the jerk did eventually
move, but not far enough away to suit me. I took a picture of
him later and I'm seriously thinking about putting it here.
Naw, I don't need to deal with a libel suit.
CYCLING'S POSTER BOY
Other than that little incident, we had a pretty good day at this
location. It was fun to watch the racers come through our
intersection and cheer them on. It was also fun to interact with
many of the crews and spectators.
The "spectator" thing was new to us. Although I was a course
monitor during the bike races in the 1996 Olympics held in
Atlanta -- which was full of spectators -- this is the
only mountain bike race we've worked at a crew location. In previous years
we've volunteered up at Columbine Mine, where no crews are
allowed and all we had to do was serve the cyclists.
We assumed that all the people yesterday at West Granite were
crews of riders in the race.
Lance Armstrong (L) comes through our crew
station first at 43 miles, escorted by the lead vehicle (R).
We learned about another big difference between a
100-mile bike race and a 100-mile foot race: the
country's most famous cyclist draws a big crowd from all over
the state that is there just to see him race, even though he
didn't win the Tour de France recently.
Lance Armstrong is the Poster Boy of American cycling. He's an
icon, well known even to non-cyclists.
Tell me when that has ever happened in an ultra foot race
or to an ultra runner, even ones as accomplished as Scott Jurek
or Ann Trason?? How many people come to Leadville just to watch
Anton Krupika or Matt Carpenter race? How many people have
driven hours specifically to watch Scott Jurek or Ann Trason run
a race anywhere in this country?
There were "GO, LANCE!" and "GO, DAVE!" shirts for sale in the
gym. For $4.95 you could watch the race live from four locations
during the race on your computer. Someone even fashioned a huge "LA" in the snow on
the eastern flank of Mt. Massive, visible to the naked eye along
the course on Half Moon Road or with
binoculars from Leadville:
Above and below: "LA" is written in large letters in the
rectangle of snow on the east flank of Mt. Massive.
Groupies, or just a publicity stunt for the race video and live webcast??
The world of cycling is different in many ways from the world of
ultra running. Cyclists have made a hero of Lance Armstrong,
winner of the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times
from 1999-2005. Even though he came in "only" third in the Tour
a few weeks ago, he's a popular, well-respected athlete, not
only for his cycling accomplishments, but also for his
well-publicized triumph over testicular cancer and his efforts
to raise money for cancer research through the LIVESTRONG
Foundation he started. His marriage to and divorce
from popular singer Sheryl Crow didn't hurt, either.
Last year was Armstrong's first LT100 mountain bike race, which
is quite different from riding paved road races as a team
member. Mountain bike racing is one person against the others,
not a team event. We weren't here to witness his close contest
last year with six-time LT champion Dave Wiens. This excerpt by
Kathy Bedell, LT100 Public Relations Manager, from this year's
LT 100 booklet describes the drama:
"In 2008, Wiens successfully defended his title by beating
Armstrong by just under 2 minutes and setting a new course
record of 6:45:45. But before the bikes were wiped down and last
year's awards were presented the whisper had already begun: who
will win in 2009?"
The stage was set for another battle between the local MTB
favorite and the world champion road racer when both
Armstrong and Wiens decided to compete again in this year's
race. Many folks were rooting for Wiens to win again but wanted
a chance to see Armstrong, too.
Armstrong fans who weren't able to attend the Tour de
France in person could more easily drive to Leadville to see
their hero in action. Jim and I had no clue that so many folks
would show up from hours away, just to watch him race against Wiens and the other top contenders (who
"rabbits" from Trek to pull Armstrong and Wiens out faster the
first half of the race -- after that, they couldn't keep up with
either Lance or Wiens).
Dave Wiens, seeded #1 for his six
consecutive wins at LT100, was in 4th place at 43 miles
and only one or two minutes behind Lance.
Two "rabbits" were between them.
There was a couple with three young children who hung out near
or under our race canopies for several hours, right at the turn
from the double-track to the road. They told Jim they had driven
from Colorado Springs just to let their kids see Lance
Sure as day turns into night, as soon as Armstrong came back
through our spot at 57 miles, the Mrs. said to the Mr.,
"No," he insisted. "I want to see who is in second
He had to wait over 15 minutes to see Wiens come through, a much
bigger gap than anyone expected after the slim margin Armstrong
led on the outbound at 43 miles. At that point Dave was in
fourth place, only a minute or two behind Lance. Now Dave was in
second place, ahead of the two "rabbits," but he'd lost a considerable amount of time to
Outbound riders deferentially move to the
right as Dave Wiens, now in second place,
comes tearing through the turn on his way
back to the finish . Close-up below.
Jim and I were amazed when at least a third of the crowd left as
soon as both Armstrong and Wiens came through on their way back
to the finish!
Silly us, thinking all those people were crewing riders. You
just don't see that in an ultra run. I suppose the spectators
were headed either for a later aid station or the finish so they
could witness Lance's sweet revenge.
NEW COURSE RECORD BY ARMSTRONG
We had heard that Lance was hoping to break six hours and
demolish the 6:45 course record Dave set last year.
listened closely to Jim's radio as the clock ticked down to six
hours but he was only on St. Kevins Road at that point, with
several miles to go. Then at 6:28:57 into the race
we heard that Armstrong had crossed the finish line, setting a
new course record.
Even more amazing was the story that Lance
rode the last ten miles on an increasingly flat rear tire, so determined to
win that he didn't want to lose any time fixing it! You can see
the flat tire in one of the photos below.
Our "campground host," Jack Saunders, took the next three photos
of Lance as he rounded the turn from McWethy back onto 6th
Street about a mile from the finish. They're great shots. Thanks
for letting me use them here, Jack. I zoomed in on the first
photo to highlight Lance's flat tire:
Wiens was still back several miles when Armstrong crossed the
Our reception on the borrowed HAM radio wasn't very good so we
didn't know how he fared until we saw the
results on the LT website today (we didn't attend the awards
ceremony at 8:30 this morning). Wiens finished in second
place, a distant 28:11 minutes behind Lance.
The best quip I heard before and after the race (attributed to
Ken Chlouber and bandied about by others later) was that Lance
was probably the only cyclist who has ever used the Tour de
France as a training ride for the LT100!
[Note: Even though Floyd Landis unsuccessfully attempted to upset Dave Wiens' winning streak in 2007, his Tour de France victory was a
year earlier and couldn't be considered a "training ride" for
LT100. He was later stripped of the Tour de France title,
fired from his pro racing team, and put on suspension from
professional racing until January of this year because of the
use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in 2006 during the
Tour. Lance Armstrong has never been found guilty of
using such drugs, although he's had a testy relationship with
the French anti-doping officials for several years.]
Doggone it, I failed to get a decent close-up photo of Lance Armstrong
during the weekend. He didn't come in to pick up his own number
when I was doing check-in on Friday, I didn't go to the awards
on Sunday, the shot farther up in this section that I got when he came through our crew
station outbound was too distant,
and he surprised all of us on the inbound -- he came back down from
Columbine Mine so fast that I simply wasn't ready and didn't
have my camera out. There are plenty of photos of him on the
internet, including crossing the finish line, if you do a search of the race.
Almost lost, by comparison, in all the hoopla was the women's
winner, Rebecca Rusch, who placed 30th overall in a time of 8:14:53
-- and most of the other competitors. With helmets on, it's
sometimes hard to tell the women from the men and I don't think
I got any photos of Rebecca either time she zipped through our
I expected more of a
bubble of riders in the mid-pack but there were never more than
six or eight at a time coming through the curve on the outbound at 43
miles. They were spaced out farther on the return 14 miles later
after being chewed up and spit out on the climb to and descent
from Columbine Mine..
#40 leads a long line of cyclists into our
turn on the outbound leg.
It would have been a challenge to record their times outbound by
hand if we were a timing station, but thankfully we weren't. The
computer chips worn by each rider
recorded the splits at the
major aid station timing mats to the second, plus three decimal
points. That system seems to have worked very well in its
inaugural year at this race. Timing chips will not be used
in the foot race next week but runners' times will be recorded
by hand, both in and out of the aid stations, and HAM operators
will pass on the information to HQ.
This year's bike race had another new feature: a live
video webcast from four locations during the bike race (for a $4.95
fee, unheard of in ultra runs). There is also a fancy video on
the LT100 home page advertising the bike race -- but not a
similar one (at least yet) for the LT100 run next Saturday.
More evidence of the differences between cyclists and ultra
runners . . . ultra running doesn't have the cachet (or
kind of audieince) that cycling does. I could list a lot of
other differences between the two sports, too . . .
Above and below: ultra runners don't have
quite the same kind of pit crews as cyclists, either! The
wording on the back of the guy's orange
suit says "PIT CREW" in large letters. Here he's helping a cyclist change a tire.
But I digress. We prefer our internet videos and live webcasts
free. We saw Lance and his fellow competitors in person
twice during the race and later Jim found a pleasant montage of
Lance Armstrong in competition during some of his road races.
YouTube. I love the music! I
don't know how long it will be at that site. It reminds me of a
really good ultra running
montage we saw earlier in the
year, except we actually know a lot of the people and places in that one.
For bike results, check the
LT100 website or
Milleseconds.com. Preliminary results
posted today show that 888 competitors finished in under 12
hours to earn a buckle and a hooded sweatshirt imprinted with
their name and finish time. There were additional awards for
overall and age group winners. Another 85 cyclists made the last
cut-off time at 74 miles but finished between 12 and 13:10
hours, for a total of 973 finishers.
Poignant scene: a mom and three little kids
waiting for a rider near the end of the pack, after nearly
is gone. The little girls enjoyed playing
with Cody, who was on a cord attached to one of our chairs.
The website also lists the entrants alphabetically who started
the race but didn't finish (DNFs = about 257). That would make a
total of 1230 entrants who started the race. If that is correct,
there was an official 72% finish rate under 12 hours, higher
than the average 65% finish rate over the last 15 years.
Seventy-nine percent finished the entire 100 miles, including
the ones who crossed the line between 12 and 13:10 hours.
Those finish rates are much higher than we'll probably see in
the run next weekend, where the average finish rate is more like
Above and below (close-up): a long line of
mid-pack riders head for the Twin Lakes
Aid Station on their way back to the finish
(approx. 58 miles here).
I am of the opinion that if you could compare equally-trained
cyclists and runners (that's like comparing apples to oranges, I
know), riding 100 miles is easier than running 100 miles if for
no other reason than the amount of time competitors are out on
the course at high altitudes. (There are other reasons, too.) Finish times for the
cyclists ranged from 6:28 to 13:10 hours this
year. The course record in the run is Matt Carpenter's stellar
15:42:59 in 2005; Anton Krupika has the only 16-hour time and
only about ten runners have times in the 17-hour range. The
slowest finishers must be done within 30 hours. A large
percentage of finishers in the run come in between 28-30 hours.
That's gotta be a lot harder on the mind and body than 6-13
hours on a bike. I'm not detracting from the cyclists'
accomplishments, but I'm just sayin' . . .
Jim, Pat, Karen, and Maya (the begging dog)
relax as fewer and fewer riders are left on the inbound.
Almost 200 entrants didn't start the bike race. I counted those,
too, and they don't add up to the 1500 entrants I kept hearing
about before the race. I came up with a total of 1427 entrants.
That's still a huge number.
After the last rider and the sweep went through our station, the
volunteers finished cleaning up the course and taking down
markers near the turn. Karen and Pat followed the course back to
Twin Lakes, taking down those markers and picking up trash. Jim
and I waited until the Columbine Mine crew came down and gave
the HAM radio back to its owner. It was after 4PM by the time we
took the cones, signs, and barricade back to the race warehouse
in Leadville and went home.
We were pretty tired after spending about ten hours working on
race day -- but not as tired as the race finishers, some of whom
will also be running 100 miles next weekend! (They are called
Leadmen and Leadwomen.)
Although we don't know any of the riders personally, I took a
fair number of photos as they came through our crewing station.
Since this is more of a running than cycling website, I haven't
put many of them here. If you were in the race and want to see
if I took any pictures of you at 43 or 57 miles, please contact
me with your name and bib number. (No charge.)
Most of the cyclists and their families have left town by this
afternoon. In the next week we'll see more and more runners come in
to take their place in the campgrounds, motels, restaurants, and
On a walk between the dam and the Tabor boat ramp and back this
morning we were surprised how many folks were biking on the
trail around Turquoise Lake (above). Some looked like they might have
been in the race yesterday. We know one was; he
still had his numbers attached to his bike! He was quite pleased
when we commented on that. That's the equivalent of runners
continuing to wear their plastic medical bracelets for several
days after a 100-miler!
It's called pride in their
After my crash during a weenie bike ride on a comparatively
smooth dirt road, I have new respect for cyclists with the skill
to negotiate the LT100 course or any other difficult route on
trails and roads.
But I'm glad I'm a member of the ultra
running community. There is noticeably less competition,
arrogance, and comparison of technical equipment in trail
running. It's a more egalitarian sport. And the Leadville
runners have always been more grateful for our volunteer support
than the cyclists.
There is an excellent
article that was posted today on the
Denver Post website about the race. In case it disappears in
a few days or weeks, I've copied the text and put it on a special
page. This will be the only
link to it in this journal
(i.e., it's not on the topics page).
Next entries: an update on my recovery + our training runs and hikes on the LT100 run
course and other Leadville venues (you didn't think I was still holed up in the camper, did
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2009 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil