Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Leadville Silver Rush 50 recap

Last Saturday I raced in the Leadville Silver Rush Mountain Bike Race. I would exactly consider my performance "racing," but I did manage to survive it.

The Leadville Silver Rush is a 50 mile mountain bike race that is set up as an out and back. In other words the 3 climbs that top out at 12000 ft on the way out are the same as the 3 you see on the way back in. The route itself was not too technical, and while the jeep trails that constituted the majority of the route were quite rocky, the altitude, gradient, and length made this race so brutal. I managed to complete the 50 in just under 8 hours. For comparison, the overall winner finished in just 4:24! I was not last by any means, but there are several things that I could alter to bolster my chances next year:

- purchase a suspension fork: whoever said on the mtbr.com forums that you don't need suspension for the Leadville races was wrong. Riding a rigid bike over 50 miles of trail really took its toll on my back, shoulders, and triceps. Of course, had I been out for 6-6.5 hours that probably would have been lessened. Which takes me to my next point.

- run a lighter gear: this was really my biggest screw-up and probably cost me an hour or so of race time. Once again, going by what the forums up at mtbr.com suggested, I ran what I thought was a suitable gear for the race. All suggestions that I had read recommended a 32x18 gear ratio. That's what I thought I was running. That was not the case, as it now seems that I have a 34 tooth cog up front. This, stiffer than recommended gearing meant that I was pushing the bike up hill more than I could have been riding it, wasting energy and more importantly time. By spending more time on the trail, I wasted more energy, so that really compounded the suffering.

- No cargo shorts over spandex - Despite being more fashionably sound, and giving me somewhere to easily store energy bars, the cargo shorts had greater negative effects than benefits. The extra layer generated extra heat and friction, resulting in a rather uncomfortable posterior and some spectacular saddle sores. Next time I'm leaving the cargo shorts in the car.

Despite the above problems, I felt pretty good during the race. I could probably stand to lose 10 or so pounds, but having a bit of extra padding probably helped my stamina. Of course, most importantly, I managed to finished this beast of an event and nest year I should be able to improve on this years' performance. Of course now that means I'll have to race it again next year.