Every time I read Gary's quote I marvel at the fact that not everyone
has dreams to chase. Some people just seem to exist and have no
purpose or desire to learn new things, set challenging goals, test their limits, or seek adventure.
That way of life seems unreasonable to me.
Not only would I
have no fun but I also don't understand the point of living without
dreams (goals) to chase! My entire life has been one of seeking to
attain new goals, stretching myself both physically and mentally. It's
how I'm wired. And I'm not just talking about athletic pursuits or
travel, which are the focus of this web journal.
View of Mt. Massive from the west side of the
Mineral Belt Tail
Sometimes "adventure" is involved, sometimes not, but my goal is
always to learn or do something different or at least better. Jim's a
lot like that, too.
One obvious way both of us have demonstrated our goal-seeking nature
has been through 30+ years of endurance running and racing. Since we can no longer
run ultra distances because of deteriorating knees, we have shifted to
long-distance hikes (me) and bike rides (both of us, but particularly
Although these activities are currently not competitive, we still
enjoy achieving new distance, speed, altitude, and other athletic goals we set for
View of Leadville, Mt. Elbert, and Mt. Massive from
the Mineral Belt Trail; climbing
those 14ers, the two highest peaks in Colorado, is
a challenging goal each time
we are here and I plan to climb them again this
summer -- at age 62.
The photos in this entry are from various bike rides we've taken in
the Leadville area recently. Jim doesn't like to carry his camera when
he rides so the pictures are ones I took.
This is a good place for us to ride. We have easy access to the multi-use path
(Mineral Belt Trail) that
loops around the town for almost 13 miles and the
many additional miles of dirt forest roads and paved county roads. Some
of the roads we've ridden are on the LT100 bike race course.
JIM'S BIKE TRAINING
I wrote about Jim's transition from ultra running to ultra cycling in
In this entry I'll give you an update on his
training and show you photos from several of the routes we've ridden in
or near Leadville.
Jim gets ready to ride on Lost
Canyon Rd. (FR 398), which goes to Columbine Mine.
This is part of the LT100 bike race course.
Jim bought his new Specialized Stumpjumper 29er mountain bike on July 23.
Since then his mileage has jumped significantly compared to the
distances he rode on his old Trek mountain bike and my Tricross
cyclocross hybrid. He loves his new bike and has several new goals,
including riding the 109-mile Michelson Trail in the Black Hills of
South Dakota in one day and possibly competing in some organized cycling
events this fall and winter.
In the last three weeks he's ridden 52, 99, and 78 miles with single
rides of up to 32 miles. He wants to get up to at least 50 miles a
couple times before tackling the Michelson Trail.
Above and below: ready to
ride on Lost Canyon Rd., which is very shady in this section
Jim tends to follow a hard-easy schedule like we did when we ran --
each long or hard ride is followed by one or two rest days or easy rides.
As he builds up his endurance and stamina he may incorporate some
back-to-back hard/long workouts, again mimicking the types of workouts we did
when we competed in foot races. "Doubles" -- doing long or hard
workouts two days in a row -- help teach your mind and body to
keep going when you're tired.
MY BIKE TRAINING
My favorite exercise is still being on my feet, not on a bike. I much
prefer to go for a long hike in the mountains than to ride my bike on
roads, trails, or bike paths. But I do that, too, to help preserve what little
cartilage is left in my knees.
Above and below: pretty
daisy-like flowers on the east side of the the Mineral Belt Trail
For me, the hardest part of cycling is just getting out the door.
Running and walking are so much easier for me to get psyched up about;
I'm always ready for a hike!
Funny thing is, as soon as I finally get moving on my bike . . .
I usually enjoy it.
Bright Indian paintbrush and other
wildflowers brighten a sage of field along the bike trail;
the view is toward Mosquito Pass
and Mt. Sherman, a 14er to the east of town.
Above and below: asters
blooming along the Mineral Belt Trail
Since I spend a lot more time walking/hiking than cycling my bike
mileage is much less than Jim's.
I don't even keep track of the miles I
ride or walk in a training log any more. I used to be very anal about
record-keeping for 30+ years of running -- not just distance, time, and pace
but also where, when, weather, which shoes, etc. I was a numbers freak for
over three decades.
Above and below: branch of
Tennessee Creek off CR 9, part of the LT100 bike course
It's all part of my desire to simplify my life and become more Type
B. I'm still doing plenty of miles by foot and on my bike, and I often
do them hard/fast to get my heart rate up, but I lost my desire to keep
track of it all. Half the time I don't even track the elapsed time. When
I do, it's usually not exact to the minute. Why bother if I'm no longer
What a difference this is for me! I love the freedom from
self-imposed "should's" that it gives me.
The only time it's a problem is like right now, when I can't tell you
how many miles I average hiking or biking each week. I usually know what
my longest recent hikes and rides are, though.
Above and below: CR 9A, another
part of the LT100 bike course
My Specialized Tricross doesn't have a tripmeter on it like my Terry
Isis road bike (which
is at the house in VA when we travel). Jim usually wears our Garmin wrist
GPS when he rides. Even if I'm hiking/riding at a different time than
him, I often don't wear the GPS. The main reason I use it is
to know the elevation.
Jim's still interested in knowing his times and distances when he
cycles (and if he's ever able to resume running or hiking). That's
fine whether he wants to train to compete -- or not. I'm just in
a different "place" now.
CYCLING AT HIGH ALTITUDE
Since August is within the Colorado "monsoon season" with rain or
thunderstorms many afternoons, we both usually get out in the morning for our workouts.
A couple times when I rode in the afternoon I had to race home to beat
I got sprinkled on only once, never drenched.
We are both getting acclimated to the higher elevations around the
Leadville area. Being in Silverton several weeks helped. The valleys
where Jim cycled were at or above 9,200 feet. I hiked up to about 12,300
feet when we were in the Silverton area and would have gone higher but there was too much snow.
Another cyclist rides
past me on the bike path as I stop to take a picture of an historic cabin.
The trail goes through both open
and wooded sections as it circles Leadville.
Part of the prosperous California
Gulch mining area south of town; the bike trail is at the right.
Leadville sits at about 10,200 feet, the highest incorporated town in
the Lower 48. We haven't been sucking air too badly here since we've
gradually worked our way higher and higher this summer.
The lowest we can get around here is about 9,200 feet at Twin Lakes.
The highest is the summit of Mt. Elbert at 14,433 feet. I can hike up
there (and plan to next week) but Jim can't ride that high because there
aren't roads or trails he can ride to the summits of any nearby
mountains. He could do that on Pike's Peak or Mt. Evans but the
opportunity doesn't exist here.
View of Leadville from the south
side of the Mineral Belt Trail
View of Turquoise Lake from the
east side of the bike path
The highest he'll probably get on his bike is 12,600 feet at
Columbine Mine if he rides his bike back to town after working the aid
station at that location during the LT100 bike race on Saturday.
Most of the time we ride at elevations from about 9,500-11,500 feet on the
Mineral Belt Trail and nearby roads. I can assure you that's a good
MINERAL BELT TRAIL
I've written about this paved multi-use path in previous years' journals. It
is a wonderful resource for residents and visitors. Jim loves riding on
it, which initially surprised me until I realized why -- it's
scenic and challenging but without the dangers of riding on the road or
a rough trail.
View of the Rockies, Turquoise
Lake, Leadville, and mining district from the eastern side of the loop
Old mine retaining walls along the bike path
The Mineral Belt Trail loops around Leadville and through parts of California Gulch and
other formerly lucrative mining areas on the mountain slopes east of
The remaining pictures are from the mining areas.
One of the mining relics, as seen
from either side on the bike path
Part of the Mineral Belt Trail goes through town but most is out in forests and
meadows with great views of the valley and surrounding peaks.
The path is popular with runners, walkers, cyclists, and
skate-boarders in the summer and cross-country
skiers when it's covered with snow -- which is about eight
months of the year at this lofty altitude! Spring and fall are very
short seasons in Leadville.
Above and below:
distinctive "checkerboard" slag heap
The bike path is 12.6 miles long. We can access it quite easily from our
camping spot at Jack's place -- it's only 300-400 feet away. It
is so convenient that we both get out on it several times a week to ride
We both prefer to ride clockwise around the loop but we alternate it
with CCW loops for variety.
Above and below: retaining
pond at one of the mine sites
While we're here
I won't be walking the Mineral Belt Trail as much as riding on it.
When I walk I like to take Cody with me
so he gets exercise, too. Because of all the cyclists the Mineral Belt Trail isn't a good place to walk a
dog off-leash. It's not safe for the dogs or cyclists. I have to keep
Cody on his leash when I'm walking him on the bike path.
I prefer to
hike on dirt trails in the woods near Jack's place, around Turquoise
Lake, or up in the mountains
where Cody can run off-leash; that's a lot more fun for both of us.
Meanwhile, both Jim and I do have
fun riding on the bike path. Check it out if you're in the area.
Next entry: volunteering for the LT100 bike race
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil