Aclimation to the Leadville Trial 100…


My good friend and Herbalife 24 teammate Phil Mooney and I flew out of San Francisco early Tuesday August 31st bound for Denver Colorado. Moments after we landed we were met by Eric Sammuli and an Herbalife 24 teamcar which whisked us up to Leadville–the historic Colorado mining town located 10,200 feet above sea level. Home to the Herbalife 24 Basecamp, our home for the next two weeks…

The driveway.

I’ve traveled for lots of cycling events, and what’s funny is that every arrival goes the same way… Bags are quickly dropped in the direction of the bed you’ll be sleeping in that night, and with little regard to anything else, bikes begin to be unpacked and built.

But what was interesting about this case, is that Phil and I were only about 10 or 15 minutes into this process when we bashfully admitted to one another that we had some pretty gnarly headaches setting in. These were the consequence of our morning’s jump from sea level into some serious elevation. But determined as we were to get a ride in that afternoon we did our best to power through. And things started looking up when Eric dropped some fortification on our workbench…

High Mountain Pies is just across the street from Basecamp. The “San Luis” – Garlic oil base, braised pork in ranchero sauce(that’s vegetarian, isn’t it?), green chiles, manchego cheese, fresh avocado and cilantro.

…which went down as one of the tastiest pizzas I’ve ever eaten. And then 30 or so minutes after that, the bikes were nearing completion, and Phil and I were hitting the first wall of our Leadville experience. The elevation sickness was putting us to sleep, and it became nap time!

We each slept two hours, hard, but when we woke up the headaches were gone and we were ready for our first ride…

Just completing a long season of professional road racing with Jamis, Phil was enthused about his first ride on a new mountain bike.

We were still adjusting to our new climate and surroundings, so we took it pretty easy. We pedaled the asphalt up and took some fun singletrack back into town stopping regularly to enjoy the scenery and day one of our bike vacation…

Stopped to enjoy the aspen trees we were pedaling through.

So, we were obviously having a rough go! And the next morning was worse…

That’s when we were set up with our new Herbalife 24 team gear and hit the trail for a preview of the course. Eric and Phil were my guides. Eric’s summer job has been to live and ride from Basecamp everyday and both of them raced Leadville last year.

We rode the start of the course and the infamous Powerline fire road which on race day is descended at breakneck speeds on the way out and climbed on the return at a point in the race when your body is ready to call it quits. Next Saturday this road is gonna be all kinds of suck, especially on the return, but this time it was fun and relatively easy. And even made light by the fact that while there we met up with Chad from Velonews who was there to shoot some video of us as we “trained…”

Eric and I on the climb up to Powerline

Today was worse still…

We enjoyed more course preview at a leisurely pace and for our return to Leadville endured some miserably beautiful, and blissfully perfect Colorado single track. Argh! I don’t know how much more of this I’m gonna be able to take.

Today’s ride courtesy of Strava, found here.

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