Building Community Through Cycling

Blue Sky Velo
Getting ‘The Buckle’
I want to share Greg Grossman’s Leadville 100 race summary.  When I first read it, Greg’s write-up transported from my living room to the difficult terrain of  the race and by the end of the read I kinda felt like I had competed in the famous Leadville 100 (but when I looked around my living room…there was no big buckle anywhere to be found). Greg’s Leadville 100 story is a wonderful example of committing yourself to a goal and then making the plans and putting in the training in order to attain that goal. Congratulations to Greg completing the grueling course under the time-cutoff and earning the much sought after Buckle!!!  — Sandy
Thanks to Kathy Judson (who also raced and got a buckle!) for sharing some of her photos that I included along with Greg’s photos.

Here is Greg’s race report 

Executive Summary:

I stuck to my plan, had a great time and finished in under 12 hours and got the belt buckle.

All the Details:
My road to Leadville started in the fall of 2013 on a trip to Moab, it was something on my mind but not something that I was committed to pursuing.  A good friend (Laurie) suggested that we do the race and she had just bought a 29” hard tail specifically for this race.  January 2014 came and I entered the lottery for an entry into the race, I received a polite thank-you-but-you-have-not-been-chosen-to-race email.  This email listed several events that I could race in order to qualify for an entry.   I entered a qualifying race in Cedar City, Utah, made the full day drive on Friday, raced on Saturday, and drove back home on Sunday.  I had a great race but it was not good enough to get me the Leadville entry.  The next qualifying race was the Leadville Silver Rush 50. I signed up, gave it a good effort but I did not qualify for an entry in that race either.  No Leadville 100 for me in 2014. Instead, I ended up crewing for Laurie and loved the vibe and thought this is a race that I really want to do.
At this same time, Boulder Mountainbike Alliance (BMA) was starting a training group called Boulder Mountainbike Alliance Riders United in Training for Endurance or the BRUTE Squad (or BRUTEs). I thought the BRUTE Squad would be the perfect group to help with my training and improve my riding so I joined.  I had a great time being a member of the BRUTE Squad and knew that I would want to continue with this group.
In December of 2014 I entered the lottery again and in January I again received a nice email telling me that , again, I was not chosen. The letter included a  list of all the races I could enter to qualify.  For me, Cedar City was not an option because the timing conflicted with my job, so the only qualifying race I could do was the Silver Rush 50.   I like that race, so I thought, “Why not?”  To qualify in these races you must either finish at the top or finish in under a certain time to get into a lottery.  I finished easily under 8 hours so I was in the lottery and, this time, I was chosen! When selected to race, the race organizers send you  a ‘100 coin’ that is known as the 100 entry.  You can use you coin in the year you earn it, or you can defer it if you want/need to for one year.  I decided that I was not as prepared as I wanted to be in order to do the race in 2015 so I deferred my entry to 2016.
I joined the BRUTE Squad again for 2016 because I knew it would be the perfect launch pad for my Leadville training.  I did all the training that the BRUTEs offered, all the training races and even some other races to prepare. Leading up to the big day of the race I decided that I was pretty scared. What was I scared of? I realized my fear was from the fact that I had not done a ride longer than 90 miles and that was way back in March, on my road bike in California and at low elevation. In the Peaceful Valley’s  ‘PV Cycle Derby’ I did finish, but it was not pretty. In the Bailey Hundo I did not finish. In the weeks leading up to the 100, I started increasing my mileage — starting with the Silver Rush 50.  After the Silver Rush 50 race, I stayed in Leadville for a few more days to ride the 100 course. The following weekend was Breckenridge’s B-68 race. I enjoyed this race but I did not think my time/pace was strong enough to finish a 100 mile version of the race in under 12 hours.  I was also happy that I had not signed up for the B-100!
The next weekend was my final, big training ride. I rode all the way to the top of Rollins Pass from Boulder. After that training ride, I went back to Leadville to train on the 100 course.  Looking at my ride times for individual sections of the 100 course made me very nervous.
Now for the taper. The first few days of the taper were fine.  I was following the workouts that Scott (BRUTE Coach) had put together for those of us who raced the B-68.  The weekend before the big race,  I did a small 30-plus mile ride at Marshall Mesa on Saturday and volunteered for the Boulder Ironman on Sunday.  As I rode into work on Monday,  I noticed that I was missing the feeling of a long hard ride in my legs. By this time, I was going stir-crazy, feeling like I should have done a much longer/harder ride.
I took Thursday and Friday off work and headed for Leadville on Thursday afternoon to check in.  After checking in it was back to Dillon to stay at a friend’s house.  Friday morning it was back to Leadville for the mandatory rider meeting.  After the meeting Cyndi (my girlfriend) and friends Dan and Amy joined me for a quick trip out to Twin Lakes to set up a tent for Cyndi, Dan and Mary (BRUTE Neal’s wife) to hang out in while they waited to support us as we came trough the Twin Lakes area.
Saturday Morning, Race Day:
My alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. and Cyndi and I were out the door in the car  and in Leadville by 5:15 a.m.
I made my way to the start area and found my start corral,  met up with Amy and Neal who were also in my start corral.  The line of racers was more than two blocks long.
Promptly at 6:30 a.m. the gun went off and the line of racers started to move.  It was pretty cold and I had not put on enough clothing for that temperature. I  knew that by the start of the first climb up St. Kevins I would warm up.  But, early on it was cold and when I got to the bottom of St. Kevins I could not feel my fingers or toes. This was really uncomfortable, but at the first switchback I realized that I was no longer cold. On this first climb, it seemed like many people were passing me and I thought some of these passes were a little dangerous.  I kept telling myself that what I did in the first 10 miles would not matter — as long as I did not do something stupid, so I kept a mellow pace.  I was safe and conservative on the first decent, passed a few people that were way too slow on this section.
The next climb was on a paved road and it was nice to spread out a little. That climb took us to the top of the Power Line Decent/Climb which is a little technical as well as narrow and difficult to pass in places, I asked several people if I could pass and they let me on by.  I was still feeling pretty great and had to remind myself to take it easy. I came up with a little thing to say to myself, “You can go hard on the Boulevard” (the Boulevard is the last 4 miles of the race).
The section starting at the bottom of Power Line is fairly flat(ish) and I was lucky enough to get myself into a pace line and pulled to aid station #2 where I took off my long sleeve jersey and had a fig newton.
Next up was the Pipe Line. No steep climbs but a lot of rolling along into a short bit of single track.  Coming off the single track is paved and improved dirt road leading to Twin Lakes.  I was pacing with a guy and ended up riding next to him. We started talking and he was telling me how terrible things were. That was not my experience, I was having a blast and I ended up dropping him on a little up hill section.  At this point I saw a low flying helicopter that I was pretty sure it was filming the leaders.  One of my goals was to get to Twin Lakes before the leaders got there as they were returning from Columbine.  Not sure what the helicopter was up to though because I left Twin Lakes before the Leaders arrived.
When I got to Twin Lakes, I stopped at our tent to swap out my water bottles and Camelbak.  Cyndi, Dan, Mary and others were at the tent. They were having, what looked like,  a good party. I was thinking that I might have wanted to stay for the party, but I was headed for the base of Columbine.
One of the great things about this race is the number of people along the course cheering for the racers, both sides of Twin Lakes dam were packed with tents and people cheering.
Heading into the base of Columbine there was a bunch more tents and people cheering for the riders.  Columbine is an eight mile climb that ends at the turn around point. I settled in and told myself I could “go hard on the Boulevard.”  After about 5 miles of climbing,  the race becomes a Hike-A-Bike. Many people were hiking with their heads down and not moving very fast.  At this point, I was still feeling good and also feeling happy, I held my head up and smiled and walked past some folks.  The toughest part of passing people in this section was it was close to the turnaround and with two way traffic I did not want to get in anyone’s way.  I was thinking “it’s not that bad, — it’s great.”  I was hoping to get to the turn in less than 6 hours and I got there in 6:03.
Going down Columbine was rough but it was good through the Hike-A-Bike section and super fast to the bottom.  At some point as I was speeding down, I heard a pretty bad sound and looked down at my bike with concern for a mechanical.  My water bottle jumped out and  it was gone.
Back at Twin Lakes, I again swapped the Camelbak and added fresh water bottles. The crew at Twin Lakes still looked like they were having a good time too.  I had to make an additional stop at Twin Lakes to let a train out of the station. This made me feel good, like a dog that runs around the yard after setting a train free. I again wanted to pedal hard through the rolling section of the course and again told myself “go hard at the Boulevard.”
Going up the single track section,  there was a girl behind me who was saying: “Great job everyone!”  “Keep it spinning!”  “Look how beautiful it is!” Upon hearing that, I looked around, it she was right — it was beautiful and I found myself thinking “ride with gratitude.”
I kept spinning to the Pipe Line aid station where I refilled one of my bottles with Perpetuem and ate a banana.  The flat(ish) section back to the base of Power Line was a little wind. I found some nice people to work with in a pace line. Going up Pipe Line was a Hike-A-Bike slog. There were several people that were cheering for the Hike-A-Bikers which was nice.  Another challenge with Power Line is there are several false summits. As I was walking my bike past the second false summit my knee was sore and it was very hot.  I was starting to have negative thoughts and as I was starting to have negative thoughts I heard this guy behind me saying, “this F***ing sucks.”  It was perfect for me to hear this because my next thought was, “It’s not that bad”.  I was still feeling sore and tired but after hearing that negativity and saying to myself “It’s not that bad”  — I started to walk a little faster.
Soon enough I was at the top of Power Line where there was a girl cheering and another girl giving out HotShot.  HotShot is an energy drink that tastes terrible but they claim it stops cramps — so I tried it, “what could possibly go wrong?”  It did taste terrible but I did not get any cramps.
One more climb left then I could “go hard at the Boulevard.”  That climb started with 3 miles of paved road where I settled into a spin.  On the climb there were a couple of little kicks to the crotch of steep sections.  When I got to the top, I knew that I had about an hour of riding and less than ten miles to the finish.  Next up, I got to go down the St. Kevins climb and it was a great and long downhill.
At this point,  I was starting to smell the barn. Just before the Boulevard is another steep rocky kick in the crotch.  Walking half way up this kick in the crotch,  I saw a line I thought I could ride so I hopped on and started pedaling.
I was now on the Boulevard and, finally,  it was time to go hard. I had no “go hard” left in me, I could not have bought a match to burn at any price.   I kept pedaling and a guy rode up next to me and said, “Congratulations we’ve done it!”  Getting into town I saw Dave Wiens and he cheered me on. Over a little hill I could see the finish.  There was a huge crowd around the finish line and a little narrow line that is the red carpet to the finish.  In the middle of all these people Cyndi was waiting to run the red carpet and I some how found a match to burn and stood up and sprinted (it felt like I was sprinting) to the finish.  Marilee (one of the race founders) was at the finish to put the finisher medal around my neck.  Neal and Mary were also there and it was great to see them as well.
Leadville Finisher and Founders

Greg, Cyndi with Ken and Marilee, founders of the Leadville 100

My finish time was 11:36:23.
I am already signed up for this race for next year and looking forward to doing it again.
I am also looking forward to training with the BRUTEs next year.
I need to thank Cyndi because I do not feel I could have done as well without her excellent support.
Thank you to Coach Scott, the BRUTE coaches and all the BRUTEs for your support.