Lead filled legs in Leadville. UPDATED: with write-up

Joey finishing Leadville Joey D was one of the 4 Rhinos that did Leadville this year. Said the race was going well until he ran out of fuel. This is what happens when you ride through a bonk. Went straight to the Medical tent and had an IV put in. Good on ya Joey for finishing upright.

UPDATE: Here’s Joey’s write-up.  Sounds like fun?

I am laying down in the medical tent in downtown Leadville, CO struggling to keep my eyes open with an IV bag attached to my arm. My wife and two kids are by my side. How did I get to this point?

The Leadville 100… The first thing I learned about The Leadville 100 is that it is not the Leadville 100. It is The Leadville 104! That is what I found out when my Garmin hit 100 and I was still 4 miles away which is about the time I bonked and had to dig deeper than I ever had to just to finish. That is the first goal I always give myself when I do an event like this…. Is just to finish. I really never think it will get to that point but it did this time. The Leadville 100 was pretty hard but the last 4 miles were the hardest 4 miles of anything I have done in my life. Now that is not to say that the first 100 miles were not hard.

For all of you who have done El Tour De Tucson I think you will be able to relate to start of The Leadville 100. The first wave starts with the pros and people who have previously finished under 9 hours. The next wave are people who have finished between 9 hours and 12 hours. The last wave is all the first timers to Leadville. So I started behind 1500 some odd people. I arrived at the start line at a little before 5AM to get my spot. I was really fortunate to have many other Team Rhinos with me at the start line including Chad Kasmar, Jim Kirk, and Mark Fuller. So I was in a familiar spot I have been in many times before. It was cold, dark, I was with many friends from Tucson, and I was a little nervous not knowing what to expect. I have been here before… I think.

So the race starts and I know I have to get to the front. The first 3.5 miles is on pavement and followed by St. Kevins which is a narrow dirt road and the beginning of the first climb. The race starts and it takes me about 2 minutes to get to the start line and then the crowds start to thin out and I am able to pick up some speed. This is a race but at the same time I do not want to be that jerk who runs someone off the mountain. I am able to pick up some time on the pavement and I get up to 30mph and then I hit the dirt. All of the sudden my speed goes from 30mph to about 7mph and there is dust everywhere. When a couple thousand people hit the dirt at once that kicks up ton of dirt and there was dust everywhere. It felt like I was in the middle of a Haboob! I find out later that I moved up to about 300th place or so which is ironic because that is about the place I ended up at the end of the race. So now I have to get to the front because I know that once we hit the road again I want to be in the front because drafting is a factor in this race. It is very difficult to pass people on a dirt road going up when there are hundreds of people in front of you but I manage to make up time.

Next thing I know I am going down Powerline. Now this is the first part of the race which got me. Powerline is a dirt road with rocks, whoop de doos, major erosion from water, single track, roots and people going way too slow in front of me and passing me way too fast on 30 percent grades! Now let’s set the record straight! I am no slouch of a mountain biker but at the same time I know where I fit in the pecking order. I am accustomed to riding with guys like Rene Ortega and Kyle Akin whom are both are amazing mountain bikers. Whenever I go riding with these guys I feel like beginner. I know I could have made up like 10 minutes going down Powerline if I had the skills or the huevos. So the main thing is that I made it down in one piece and I get to look forward to the climb up Columbine. My support crew was great! They met me right where they said they would be, just past Twin Lakes.

Next stop 12,500 feet at the top of Columbine. The climb was very hard and near the top my legs starting cramping so bad that I had to push my bike. They say misery enjoys company which may be true but does not take the pain away. Fortunate for me I was passed by Tyler Ford and Richard Biocca from Tucson whom both gave me words of encouragement. Then my cramps hurt so bad that I could not push my bike and had to stop. I pushed my bike for a long time until the grade got easier and I was able to get back on my bike. One thing I did learn is that I do not push my bike very fast. I was passed by many people going up hill who were pushing their bikes faster than me. This was discouraging to me considering all the running I did over the summer. The previous weekend I actually did a The La Luz Trail run in New Mexico. I made it to the top and then turned around to go back to Leadville. Now I get to go down. The descent was fast and furious. I thought I was doing better this time on my descent until the road opened up and all these guys just starting blowing by me. The bottom section of the climb had some shade so it was not easy for me to see the road and there were roots, rocks, dips, etc. But that did not stop everyone else it seems to just fly right by me. I made it to the bottom in one piece again and made two stops on the way to climb up Powerline.

My support crew met me at Twin Lakes and Pipeline. I was able to hook up with two guys I was able to ride with for about 20 miles or so and we worked together and were able to catch up with one guy that whose brother I was riding with. It was pretty cool to see these guys reunite. About 5 minutes later the guy we caught up with got a flat and one of the riders I was with was really upset. He told us that that guy we caught up with was his brother but he was so close to breaking 9 hours he could not stop to help his brother with his flat. We were going at a pretty good pace at this point and were well under 9 hour pace. Our average speed at the time was 12mph. Next stop Powerline. I had heard this was a make or break climb. This was the beginning of the break for me. I have never climbed a mountain that would never end like this one. Every time I thought I was finished there was another climb. I managed to climb most of Poweline with just a little walking. Another thing I learned about myself is that when my legs start to cramp really bad it is better to keep on biking rather than stop. Whenever I stopped my bike my cramps got so bad I could not bike so I learned to keep on pedaling. I made it to the top and had a great descent. Next a nice climb up a paved road that took every bit of energy I had to make it to the top. The paved road turned into a dirt road with more climbing and I ended up walking again. Finally I got to the top of St. Kevins and now it was time to let loose. I knew I had time to make up but my average was still on track to break 9. So I hauled ass down that mountain and made great time. Now I am thinking I have made it. At this point I am completely bonked with nothing left in the tank. I am just riding on fumes. I am able to make it a mile or so on a flat dirt road leading into Leadville and I am doing OK until I hit the last climb which is a long straight dirt road. I put my head down and start to grind it out until I can barely pedal. At this point I have went from trying to break 9 hours to just trying to finish. I am getting passed by dozens of people now who are just pedaling by me as if I were walking and I am wondering to myself how do they have the power to keep going at this speed. I think about my family and friends waiting for me at the finish line and I just lower my head and keep the wheels moving. I finally get to the paved road and there is a slight uphill before going down to the finish. I slowly crawl my way up and then start my way to the finish line. I do not think I have ever biked so slow in my life. My average for the last mile was 5mph. I cross the finish and need help to get off of my bike and I sit in a chair. I can hear the crowd yelling but I am just sitting there wondering what should I do. They tell me I can sit there as long as I need. So I sit at the finish line for about 15-20 minutes with a camera man taking video of how shot I am. I finally get the willpower and help from Chad to go to the medical tent. Where I lay down and close my eyes. At this point keeping my eyes open was huge effort. They take my vitals and tell me my blood pressure is low so they give me an IV. By this time my wife and two kids are there for me. Both my kids keep on repeating how daddy pushed himself to the limit. After one bag of fluid I come back to life and I am able to walk myself to the car and get ready for the 13 hour drive back to Tucson so my kids can start school Monday morning. Looking back on the race I realize I should have had two more bottles of water during the race. That might have made the difference between 9:14 and breaking 9 hours. The Leadville 104 was hard as they billed it out to be. I was well prepared but the high elevation and Colorado Mountains did get the best of me that day. All this means is that I have to go back in 2012.

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