I started Monday morning with a rib-sticking breakfast cooked by Wild Bill and his wife, Cathy. Soon after, I was changed and out on the bike with Art and a couple of other Leadville 100 hopefuls. We rode the first 26 miles or so of the race course, which was interesting since I was on my singlespeed, and they were on geared bikes trying to take it easy. I ended up riding up the climbs ahead of them and just waiting at the top.
I’m mad at myself for not bringing a camera. There were some beautiful views out there. I had to chuckle a little bit- Art said that the first climb is the steepest other than the initial section of powerline on the “back” direction of the course. I rode most of it until the pitch near the top. While I was pushing my bike, I watched the grade, which was usually around 17-23%. Compared to what I’ve been “hiking” on the Breck course, this was a kitten.
The next climb was great- it wasn’t very steep, and there was an occasional tailwind that was strong enough to feelÃ‚ like a push up the hill. On the way down “powerline,” I spotted Amanda Carey (who wrote the best race report for Marathon Natz that I’ve seen so far), who was on her way up. I can see how that climb would be painful… it was a little bit more like the Breck climbs as far as length of the insane steep part, and the terrain was a little rocky.
It was a nice ride- we ended up with just over 30 miles and about 3000ft of climbing.
Once I was back, I cleaned up and watched a replay of Sunday’s Tour stage. Too bad about Lance crashing and losing all that time- it’d be more fun to see Alberto beat him fair & square instead. After that, I sat around on the porch talking to the hikers that were staying in the hostel. One girl had been at the Breck hostel the first night I was there, so it was fun to exchange stories about what we’d done since the last time we’d met. She’s on her first thru-hike, and it’s great to hear about her learning experiences along the way.
After a while, a few of us decided to go to the local Mexican place for dinner- Keith (given the trail name “Sir Mix-a-Lot” when he hiked a good portion of the AT eating nothing but trail mix) on the left, and John (no trail name) on the right:
Keith is from Pennsylvania. He graduated high school, worked full time for a while to save money, then decided he wanted to hike the Appalachian trail to West Virginia. He got bored, though, and hitched/hopped a bus out West to hike and just explore random places. Pretty awesome for 19 years old.
John is a Colorado Trail thru-hiker. He’s going slowly and enjoying every minute. After his rest days here in Leadville, he’s going to go on an epic hike to summit fourteen 14ers (peaks over 14k feet), and invited me to join him for one. It sounds crazy enough that I just might do it.
The last couple of days, I’ve realized that the best part of this trip isn’t the racing, the scenery, or exploring new places- It’s the people that I’ve met along the way. The scouts in Whiteman Vega, the locals in Breck, Dejay & friends, the hikers, Wild Bill, Art… everyone. We tell our stories, and everyone inspires everyone else in some way. It’s something I didn’t expect to get out of this trip, and it’s beautiful.