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Continued from the previous page.

29 MILES TO GO . . .

Sue was at the Pipeline Aid Station again and our long-time ultra running friends, Anne and Matt, had joined her. It was great to see them. Matt gave me a celebratory push-off as I left.   

Above and below:  I'm at about 74 miles into the race now

There was a pretty good head wind as I turned left on the road to Fish Hatchery. I remember thinking that this isn't going to be any fun, but peddled on. I hadn't been in any kind of pace line the entire race. I was in one with a group leaving Fish Hatchery outbound, but I couldn't keep up so I let them go.

I don't like riding in pace lines anyway. Contrary to what others say, I don't feel like they help much.

View of Mt. Massive from the road to the National Fish Hatchery (6-30-13)

Still on pace, the paved road from Fish Hatchery to the bottom of Powerline was okay. I noticed several dozen empty Coke cans along the road before the creek. I guess I missed seeing them being handed out. I sure could have used one.

I got through the creek okay and started the ride up, but soon started pushing the bike uphill. I didn't ride as far as I have on training rides because I'd done more miles already and I was more tired. There were several of us together.

The Powerline ascent at ~ 80 miles into the race isn't any
easier in the LT100 foot race, either.  (official race photo)

One young guy asked how old I was.

I told him I was 65 and on Medicare -- he was impressed! I finally got to a less steep section and got back on the bike to ride.

View of Mt. Massive (L) and Sugarloaf Mtn. (R) across Turquoise Lake; there are many false summits
and some downhill sections going back up the Powerline trail on the south side of Sugarloaf.

Then it finally happened.

Still on the long Powerline ascent, on one of the descents, I got into some rocks and crashed. I must have hit the front brake and went over the handle bars. I hit the ground pretty hard. I was a little dazed, more than from any other crash I'd ever experienced.

Two riders stopped to help, one from Stanley, NY and one from Morton, IL. The first one was checking for head injuries when the second rode up and offered to help. He identified himself as a fireman / paramedic from Illinois. Together they used my leg warmers and a cloth from my pack to wrap my knee and elbow.

I lost a lot of time there. I finally got moving again, not sure at that point if I would drop or finish. I wasn't in a lot of pain, but carefully made the remaining ascent and following descent on Sugarloaf okay.

View of Turquoise Lake from Hagerman Rd. on the north side of Sugarloaf. At this point I was so 
focused on finishing the race that I didn't pay much attention to the scenery.  (photo from 2004)

I passed one of my Trail Angels on the way to the top and knew she was behind me for the descent. I didn't notice later that they both passed me somewhere along the road before the finish.

The ride on the pavement to Carter Summit Aid Station went well. I stopped there to get better aid for my elbow. I continued on and made the climb to the top and down the other side okay.

As I neared the paved road, a woman from Illinois who we had trained with weeks earlier said "Hi." There were a few of us who rode the pavement at break neck speed to the intersection where the road turns to dirt.

Still thinking I could get under 13 hours, the cut-off for an official finish, I pushed hard. I had to walk up the gravel to The Boulevard, but I pushed hard all the way up the long, gradual hill.

The Boulevard is almost three miles long, and all uphill near the end of the bike race.  (August, 2007)

I was looking forward to the last half mile up and down 6th Street. Finally the crowd appeared and I could hear the cheering:

Above and below:  friends, families, and other spectators line the finish area.

For some reason, I avoided riding on the red carpet at the finish line.

I thought about sitting up straight and riding no-handed, but wisely decided against doing that. In this official race photo my bandaged arm is holding the handle bar and I'm just waving with one hand:


That smile was one of immense relief to finally be done!

Sue got some photos of me at the finish, too:

Since I started over a minute behind the start line, my chip (real) time was a little faster.


I'm turning off my GPS while a volunteer retrieves my timing chip.

I got my finisher's medal and found Sue. What a welcome sight she was!

I was relieved to get that over with. With a finishing time under 13 hours, at least I got a medal. You can see it in the photo above. (A time under 12 hours is required for a belt buckle.)

I saw several friends, then sat with Sue, Matt, and Anne for a little while trying to get my legs back. I offered to sell the bike to them, but they didn't seem interested. Then I offered to give it to them -- still no interest. They prefer ultra running. So do we, but we can't do that anymore.

Matt and Anne cheer on the LT100 MTB finishers  (8-10-13)

They left and Sue and I walked to the truck.

I decided I ought to see if the medical tent could clean up my wounds a little better. They washed my elbow and knee with cold water. I know this was necessary, but then I got chills and started shaking. They gave me a blanket which helped warm me up.

It seemed strange to have finished Leadville the same day I started it. And it wasn't even dark yet.

That's a big difference from the 100-mile foot race we're more familiar with. It has a 30-hour time limit. Although some runners finish under 24 hours, only a handful have ever finished before dark the first day.


After the race Sue and I met with the Race Director to see if we could get some kind of mention or  something special for the two riders who stopped to help me. They probably would have finished under 12:00 hours if they hadn't stopped.

The RD wouldn't give them belt buckles but he did give them automatic entries in next year's (2014) race. I don't think either of them entered, though.

Finish area after the race   (8-10-13)

I have to say, I never really had any fun during the race.

It was always push, push, push, go, go, go. It was not like any foot race I've ever done. In foot races, I could always talk to others and socialize a little. Not in this mountain bike race, not me anyway. 

My average heart rate was 134 bpm and it was never below 119 bpm. Never below 119 bpm for over 12 hours! Although my resting pulse now is around 55, it was in the mid-40s during Leadville training and even lower during my peak running years.

My chip finish time was 12:44:55. Total elapsed time from the gun was 12:46:01. It took over a minute to reach the starting line. My average pace was 7:24 per mile and my max speed was 37.2 mph. Yeah, that's fast.

Athletes' food tent post-race  (8-10-13)

There were 1549 starters, 1375 finishers, and 174 DNFs. I was the 1346th finisher. The winner finished in 6:07 and the last rider finished in 13:49.

I finished 35 / 35 in my age group. Yup, dead last in my age group. Do I feel bad about that? Am I a failure?

Emphatically, NO. The fact that there were ONLY 35 of us in the 60-69 year age group says a lot. There aren't many 65-year-olds out there doing this kind of thing, or anything athletically challenging for that matter! Look around.

No, this isn't me, although that's about how tired I felt after crossing the finish line!
Sue took this picture of an exhausted rider before I got done. 

Sue and I worked the awards ceremony and we stayed around for the LT100 foot race the next weekend. I helped with that, working the radios at Twin Lakes.

After spending two months in Leadville, we left for the Tetons and Reunion Flat Campground near the WY-ID state line on August 19.


I may have had more optimism about Jim's ability to finish this race than he did.

I've been on about two-thirds of the bike course either on foot, on a bike, or in a vehicle, including what I considered to be the most difficult sections -- steep, rutted Powerline and the rough Jeep track up to Columbine Mine.

It's a tough, tough course, especially at high altitude, but I knew Jim trained hard on the route for nearly two months and I knew he was doggone determined to finish the race. I'm so proud of him for soldiering on, even after his hard crash.

Jim was able to keep going after getting injured for many reasons. One is his high level
of fitness. Here he's picking up his packet at the pre-race medical check.  (8-8-13)

As Jim mentioned, riding the LT100 bike race is very different from running the LT100 foot race that we are much more familiar with as participants. Crewing for the bike race is very different, too.

Both events have way too many participants. That makes them difficult to run/ride and crew. The experience for participants and their crews would be so much more enjoyable -- and race times probably faster -- if entries were more limited, like at Western States and Hardrock.

The starts of both Leadville 100 events are slow and chaotic. Aid stations are so packed it's hard to find your drop bags and get food/drinks. Single-track trails, sometimes with two-way participant traffic, can be dangerous or exceedingly frustrating on foot or bike. Crew vehicles sometimes get in the way of the riders/runners and it's difficult for crews to find parking spaces at the aid stations in both events. 

During the 2011bike race, crew members were parked up to half a mile from the aid station,
a very long way to lug canopies, chairs, food, and their riders' supplies.  (8-13-11)

Those were my main concerns about Jim riding the race and me crewing for him. I had no doubts about his physical or mental ability to finish the race, just concerns about how so many other riders would affect his time and safety.

I had bad memories of volunteering at the crowded, chaotic Twin Lakes aid station 2011 so I chose a less popular but still useful place to crew for Jim -- the Pipeline AS at miles 28 and 74.

I can say I actually had fun there! I had to walk about 1/4 mile from my parking spot in the morning to see Jim come through outbound but when I returned after lunch I was able to park behind one of the crew canopies by the course. Both times there was plenty of room to set up a chair and aid for Jim.

Riders came into Pipeline from the south on the return and there were fewer crews around
in the afternoon because the riders were more strung out than in the morning. (8-10-13)

Crews were more courteous of the riders, who were in a hurry but not as frantic as they are in all the bedlam at Twin Lakes. It was easy to cheer on friends and strangers, and easy to find and crew for Jim the two times he came through.

It was also fun to spend time with Anne and Matt, our ultra running buddies who drove several hours to watch the race with me at Pipeline in the afternoon. Thanks, guys! Jim really appreciated your support there and at the finish.

The pre-race expo, briefing, and dinner were held at the middle school this year,
where participants had a lot more room than they used to at the old 6th St. gym.
We loved it -- right across McWethy Rd. from our camping spot!  (8-9-13)

Even with more room at this venue, some riders and crews had to stand or sit on the floor. (8-9-10)

Jim talks with one of his fellow riders before the pre-race dinner.  (8-9-13)

Two-plus years later (in December, 2015), I can still say I'm glad Jim doesn't intend to do this race again!

He made me nervous when he initially asked me to read his journaling about the 2013 race. I was afraid he was considering riding it again. We love Leadville and this course is awesome, but it's no fun for either of us with so many riders in the race.

Then he assured me he was just finally recording his thoughts about the race, not testing my reaction like he did three years ago. I asked his permission to post his account on our website, and he tweaked it a bit for public consumption.

Quite a different start at the Fireweed 400 bike race/relay in Alaska!  (7-11-15)

Jim has ridden several other ultra-distance road races and "gravel grinders" since Leadville but none anywhere near as big or with gnarly, narrow trails. Although he's at a disadvantage on a relatively heavy mountain bike in paved road events, he's had more fun in them because they had so many fewer participants.

He also enjoys long solo adventure rides, like 109 miles on the Michelson Trail in South Dakota.

For Cody and Casey, we joke that "once is always" regarding new foods or activities they then want every subsequent time. Ditto for some mountain bikers -- once they do LT100, they want to keep doing it every year, if they can get in again.

For Jim, once is definitely ONCE for the LT100 mountain bike race.

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2013 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil