Lining up for the Start
Two down three to go! I have always loved the Leadville Silver Rush and this year was no exception. The Silver Rush is all uphill and down hill. It is a high altitude incredibly fun mountain bike race that I would recommend to any one that wants a good challenge. Just to get things off on the right foot we start by running our bikes up a hill that is too steep to ride. From there we go up; 6,980 ft of climbing at an average elevation 11,100 feet and topping out at over 12,000 feet. I didn’t want to kill myself on the run up the hill, but at the same time I needed to be close to the front because we immediately jump onto a fairly rocky double track. With 486 starters, I did not want to get caught in the traffic jam.
And there off!
Dan & Charlie Lead the Way!
Nice way to start a race!
It worked out the way I planned, I was in the top 30 at the top of the hill. Even then it was chaos. The trail was dry and so dusty I couldn’t see anything. Riding pretty high speed in a crowd on a rocky dusty trail while blind. I think ZZ Top has a song about that. After a while things started sorting out an I settled in for a long climb. The first part was not very steep and my legs felt a little dead. I didn’t panic, just focused on staying relaxed and enjoying the fact that I was embarking on an epic ride in an incredible place. There were people going around me including Phil Schweizer (Of Koobi Saddles fame) who I knew was in my age group. We have been taking turns beating each other over the years with him coming out on top the most. He (and the others) looked like they were working awful hard for so early in the race, so I stayed relaxed, focused on form and did not chase. Gradually the trail became steeper and as it got steeper my legs seemed to "wake up" and I was passing a lot of those, including Phil, that had passed me earlier. Once at the top I took some electrolytes (as I did every hour) to ensure I didn’t cramp up like last year. Then it was a screaming descent down a dirt road with a few rocky sections. I was able to hook up with another guy and we kept slingshotting off each other all the way down. At the bottom of the road we dropped down a loose rocky double track for some very rough but high speed descending. We were descending together, until I overshot a switchback and skidded into the woods, but I was still able to keep him in sight through the descent. Then it was steep climbing towards Ball Mountain and above tree line. There was a group of us going back and forth taking turns passing each other until some steep loose descents off of Ball Mountain. There we kind of split based on descending skills and I was able to stay with the front, although I almost bit it. From there it was all out racing to the turn around point at 25 miles. I saw Dan Durland coming back on his single speed, easily in the top ten and Charlie Dunn also on a single speed was hot on his heels. I arrived at the turnaround and Roswitha was ready, we switched camelbacks, a new food bottle, Hammer Gel, and was off. I was told I was 25th place overall. I was feeling incredibly good at this point and knew that this race was only going to get better.
Refuled and Ready to Go!
Headin out for the second half of FUN!
Going back to Ball Mountain entails climbing some very steep loose rocky sections (The same sections that split our group descending). We pushed our bikes up this section, barely able to breath at 12,000 ft or so elevation. I was able to pass a few people here probably due to all the running I’ve been doing, but I certainly wasn’t running. I continued to be amazed how good I was feeling on the climbs and slowly reeled in whoever I saw ahead of me. At one point I was climbing a steep section and found myself grinning ear to ear, I was loving it so much. When we hit the final major climb, which was the dirt road we screamed down a couple hours before, I saw about eight riders strung out as far up as I could see. Right then and there I decided I was going to catch everyone of them. I immediately dropped the guy I had been going back and forth with all day and started closing in on the first victim. Once I caught him I rode his wheel for a second or two to catch my breath then sprint past to make sure any thoughts of trying to stay with me were crushed. I did this to everyone, and as I passed all eight, I could see more in the distance. I continued catching and passing everyone I saw all the way to the top. Then came the long, fast incredibly fun descent. I just let if fly. There are sections that are pretty rocky so I did my best to pick lines that would least likely cause a flat, but that wasn’t always possible. I was a little concerned about flatting, but I didn’t want anyone catching me either. I saw a ProCycling jersey ahead and it was Charlie. He was definitely at a disadvantage here because he could not pedal fast enough for this section of downhill. We exchanged encouragement as I went by, and I continue to hammer to the finish. Just about the same place as last year I started to feel some minor cramping. I backed off a bit and focused on riding as relaxed as possible. The last section, although predominately downhill is rolling with a couple power climbs. I relaxed through these and the cramping went away, just as someone caught me from behind. Luckily I was able go all out and hold him off and actually put a little distance on him by the finish. Finished strong, ended up 13th overall out of 486 starters, and 1st in the old guys age group. I’ve had a lot of second places here (age group) due to getting off course, cramps, mechanicals, so it was super sweet to finally win one. Today, everything went right, fueling, pacing, stayed on course, no mechanical, and only minor cramping toward the end. ProCycling did very well. Dan won the single speed divison (6th overall), I won the Masters class, Charlie was second in the single speed division, and Kara won the womens single speed.
Coming into the Finish!