DECEMBER, 2015 PREFACE FROM SUE:
This is Jim's account of his training for the mother of all 100-mile
mountain trail bike races, the LT100, held at elevations between 9,200
to 12,400 feet in the Colorado Rockies.
This entry was posted more than two years after the event. After a
computer crash I lost all my journaling notes from the two months we
were in Leadville while Jim trained for this race. Ironically, Jim also
lost his 2013 bike mileage records on his laptop computer. (Yes,
we've learned to back up our computers in a more reliable manner!).
View of Mt. Massive from about
Mile 5 on the LT 100 course (6-26-13)
Fortunately, we still have all our photos and Garmin GPS information
from the summer of 2013. We're using those photos,
tracks, and our memories to reconstruct Jim's training and the race so
we can finally post this entry.
JIM'S ACCOUNT OF HIS TRAINING FOR THE EVENT
This was written on
December 4, 2015, over two years after the race. I have been meaning to
document my experience, but just never got around to it.
My first thoughts
about riding the MTB race were just before the entry opening date,
sometime in December, 2012. I remember calling our friend in Leadville
to see if we could camp on his property again. I made the call to him
from the garage so Sue wouldn't know what I was up to.
I was pretty sure
she would approve, but if we couldn't stay at our friend's place I
probably would have just forgotten about it because the other camping
options in Leadville aren't nearly as good.
Can't beat camping right along
the LT100 course next to our friend's business . . .
He said it would be
okay, so I started dropping hints to Sue, mostly joking about it to see
what her reaction would be. This seemed to land okay, so I got a little
more serious about it and finally asked what she thought about me doing
I don't remember her
exact words, but they were something like, "WHAT, are you crazy?!?"
So, with her
approval (!), I mailed the application and waited. I think it was
mid-February when there was a charge to our credit card for $375. I was
"IN." What have I done now??
[Interjection from Sue: I
knew he could ride the course; I was only concerned about how crowded
the course would be with 1600 other riders.]
I had lots of
paved and dirt miles to ride on- and off-base at Kings Bay Sub Base
winter and early spring, but no hills to speak of. (2-5-13)
I started "serious"
training in February while we were at Kings Bay, GA, mostly getting long miles and
working on speed since there no hills in southern Georgia or Florida.
We returned to our
house Virginia in April and I could finally start hill training on the Roanoke
River Greenway, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and
Steve and I head for a bridge on the Roanoke River Greenway
Training on the
Blue Ridge Pkwy.: Sue took the photo from the rearview mirror after
on her way to
the next crewing spot. I'm framed by the back window of the truck.
I was glad to
see Sue after climbing to a high point on the Blue Ridge Pkwy.
Orchard Mtn. during another training ride. (5-12-13)
I trained for and
rode the "Storming of Thunder Mountain" road race that started
in Lynchburg, VA on May 19.
I signed up for the
100-mile event but dropped to the 75-mile event because of heavy rain
and cold temps up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Sue took these pictures of
me in the fog and rain while crewing for me at Peaks of Otter after
I came down from Apple Orchard Mountain:
barely see me coming toward her through the fog.
OK, let's get
this over as soon as possible.
FINALLY TRAINING ON THE RACE COURSE
We arrived in
Leadville on June 18 and got settled in for a two-month stay.
The LT100 Mountain
Bike Race was scheduled for August 10, so I had almost two months for
course-specific training and adjusting to the high altitude.
sits at 10,200 feet. Elevations in the race range from 9,200 feet to
12,424 feet, with a 12,612-foot gain over 103.3 miles.
The course is
out and back from Leadville to Columbine Mine, with a slight
on the return to include The Boulevard. Map from LT100
Profile from race
Although Sue and I
have been on the LT100 run course many times, I wasn't familiar with all of
the MTB course so I did a few rides on my own on parts I knew. I went
up Sugar Loaf to the top of Powerline and thought that was pretty hard.
I didn't make it all the way to the top without stopping a few times.
I eventually became
very proficient and could do it non-stop come race day.
I rode the hilly, 13-mile
Mineral Belt Trail loop around Leadville a few times just trying
to get acclimated:
below: The paved Mineral Belt Trail has lots of hills, history,
and scenic views.
I assumed I would be
training daily on the race course with some experienced riders.
I communicated with
one of them, Art, via e-mail numerous times before our arrival in
Leadville trying to learn as much as I could. Art was a nine-time
finisher and very knowledgeable about the race.
On June 26 I met up
with him and we rode to the top of Mount St. Kevin's. Sue started out with us
but turned around on the dirt road before the ascent. I made it about a quarter of the way
up the mountain, hit some rocks, and came to a complete stop.
below: Art, in yellow, and I ride on paved CR 9 in the
of the race
course during our first training ride together. (6-26-13)
Art and I head toward St. Kevin's Mtn. on CR 9A.
The LT100 course covers a wide variety
of road and trail surfaces, from smooth pavement to
rocks and ruts. (6-26-13)
Again, I eventually
became very proficient and could do the climb up St. Kevin's non-stop several times before
race day. Not on race day though. There were way too many other
people that day. It's a very rocky and gnarly climb to the hair pin turn
near the top.
On that first
training ride at St. Kevin's Art and I turned around and returned to
Leadville rather than continue down the other side to the Carter Summit
Two days later, on
June 28, a group of about fifteen of us met downtown for our first
organized group ride. We did the St. Kevin's loop for a total of 19
Creek along CR 9, with Mts. Elbert and Massive in
the distance (6-26-13)
I knew this race was
going to be very hard for me but I was still looking forward to the
challenge. Some of the riders in our group seemed very proficient, some not so much.
On our way out CR 9
the first time with the large group we were stopped by a Lake County
Sheriff's Department Officer. He warned us that we would not be allowed
to "ride like crazies, two or more abreast as we had in the past."
I, for one, tried to
follow his warning but we never saw him again the entire summer.
I was amazed at how
well Art rode. He gave me confidence that I could
do it, too, since he was almost five years older than me. We met for training
rides in groups of varying sizes almost every day until about two weeks before race day,
when we began tapering.
below: A group of five of us pass by the camper on July 8 and wave
That's me in
the blue shirt, below.
I had been
riding regularly with one of the other group members and we seemed to hit it off.
Chris rode about the same pace and we got along well together. We wanted to ride up to
Columbine Mine, the turnaround and high point of the race at over 12,400 feet.
I felt this was a must-do-ride before race day, so we split from the
group and did that ride ten days before the race. Most of those 20 miles
My Garmin GPS
track from Twin Lakes to Columbine Mine and back (7-30-13)
hadn't been on that part of the course since I tried to ride it during
Week One of our arrival. Sue dropped me off at the bottom of the climb and I rode a
couple of miles before I turned around. I wasn't at all acclimated in
June so it was really tough to breathe.
By late July, however, I was much better acclimated
to the altitude and was able to accomplish my goal.
Chris and I drove
out to the Twin Lakes Aid Station and rode from there to the top. I felt
okay about our time, a little slow, but it was a training ride. We took
a couple of pictures at the top and started down. I can't access those
picture now so Sue found these from prior years when we've worked the
aid station up there during the bike race:
The turn before the
long ascent to Columbine Mine; the Granite aid station is here on race day.
View of dirt
"road" up to the Columbine Mine aid station; we worked up here several
years. (Aug., 2004)
Relic of the
old Columbine mine near the aid station (Aug., 2006)
Chris was a bit
ahead of me on the descent from Columbine Mine when I hit some rocks and
crashed. This was the last of several crashes during my training rides.
My elbows and right knee got a lot of abuse during the rides. I was
probably the laughing stock of my fellow riders.
[Sue's note: I
don't think so! Almost everybody wrecked on the gnarly parts of the
course during training rides, especially going down The Powerline on the
south side of Sugarloaf Mountain.]
(foreground), and other riders wait for the rest of
group to finish the long Powerline descent. (7-25-13)
Sue and I did a lot of
volunteering for the various LT100 events, thinking I may want to do the
race again the next year. We worked packet pickup for the runs, rides,
bike camp, etc. and other jobs as needed.
Finish of the
Leadville Trail Marathon (6-29-13)
the bike camp (7-8-13)
start of the Silver Rush 50-mile trail bike race (7-13-13)
during the LT100 bike race medical check
I kept a good accounting of my
volunteer hours. I enjoyed
working with like-minded individuals and learned a lot from them.
As soon as I was
accepted into LT100 I started watching
my diet. My Specialized Stump Jumper mountain bike was probably a little heavier than others who
were riding the race. I thought if I could lose some weight that would
make up for the heavier bike.
I bought a new
digital scale on March 30. I weighed 165 pounds, five pounds less than
on the old analog scale. That was a good jumpstart on my weight loss. On
race day my weight was at an all time low of 150.4 pounds. I had lost 15
pounds in four and a half months. I don't think I've weighed 150 pounds
since high school.
Slim, trim Jim!
I rode almost every morning, rain or shine. (7-25-13)
There were a couple
of race-related social events that Sue and I enjoyed.
One was the cook out
at a 20-time finisher's house ("Doc"). There were lots of riders there,
including the Wounded Warriors Group. Three of us were Viet Nam Veterans
and had a group picture taken:
Bruce, Jim, Doc (8-6-13). Bruce is a ham radio operator
we've worked with
at LT100 several years. Unfortunately, Doc couldn't race this year.
The other event was
at Chris's house. She invited several friends, including her
After the crash on
the Columbine descent, and that late in the game, I still wasn't sure
that I even wanted to start the race. I was dreading the start corral and 1600
How can you possibly
expect to finish an event like that? Too many riders = Leadville Greed.
Continued on the
next page: race day
finally arrives -- what was I thinking???
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2013 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil