Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Full Circle - The Journey to the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race

On the Leadville 100 MTB course heading out to Twin Lakes

I started this blog site five years ago in the beginning of 2012, the blog began as a narration of the  journey of my training for the Leadville 100 Trail Run race. It then followed me through my adventures of life eventually leading me to my thru-hike of the PCT in 2014, in which I wrote everyday. I haven't posted in over two years and the last post was about me completing the PCT. Today, August 9th, 2017, I find myself back at Leadville 3 days out from one of the biggest races I have commited myself to complete...The Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. So here I sit almost full circle five years later ready to attempt Leadville this time not by foot, but by bike.

Let me back up a almost three years ago a bit. What happened after the PCT? Where did I go? What was I up to? Well, I found myself back in the Bay Area taking another traveling job, just because I didn't know what to do or where to go...I just wasn't struck by an answer. Life was so easy on the PCT all I had to do was follow this three foot wide trail north, but after the trail, there wasn't but one path to choose from. How was I to know what direction to go? I gave myself three months in the Bay Area and then I would leave after that assignment.

It was during that time back in the Bay Area, I reward myself a gift for hiking the first mountain bike and shortly there after (maybe 3 weeks?) I entered my first mountain bike race at the CCCX Series in Monterey. I knew how to ride a bike from my triathlon history, mountain biking couldn't be any harder right?
My New Bike-A gift to myself for hiking the PCT

My first Cross Country Mountain Bike Race, Febuary 8th, 2015, CCCX Series, Cat 3

That was a muddy race!!!

I quickly learned that mountain biking wasn't that required skill and time. But I was hooked. I continued to race Cat 3, I continued to race the CCCX races, Sea Otter, Tahoe 50k, and some other local races.
My Biggest win of the 2015 season: 1st Place 30-39 women, 6th overall Tahoe 50k

As I was busy diving into the world of mountain biking my three month assignment was coming to an end...I still had no answer to what I was going to do or where I would go next. Then one day I noticed Stanford was building a cancer center in the South Bay. I went online and discovered a job posting that was exactly what I was looking for. I applied for that one job, no others, and things kept falling into place. I accepted a permanent position in June 2015, my first permenant job in almost three years. I was scared...this meant I had to stay in one spot longer then 6 months, I had to sign a year lease, I had been living this carefree life of not being tied down to one place for longer than 6 months and I was giving it that up, but the opportunity was a great move for my career and I couldn't turn it down. So I have now permanently put down roots in the Bay Area.

Fast forward to 2016 and I continued to fall in love with the sport of mountain biking and racing. I moved up to Cat 2 and continued to develop my skills as a rider and saw continuous improvement.
CCCX Race, March 27th, 2016 Toro Park
Austin Rattler 100k, April 9th, 2016

Carson City Off Road 50miler, June 19th, 2016

As the 2016 season ended. I was left feeling a little unsatisfied. I was improving on the bike but my race results weren't where I wanted them all the time I felt like I was all over the board. I knew if I wanted to continue to progress I needed to hire a coach.

In November of 2016 I started working with my first coach, Steve Heaton at H3Coaching. Steve got me to a level and prepared me for the 2017 season that I never imagined I could have. With his encouragement I moved up yet again and was going to race Cat 1 for the 2017 season. I went from riding 3-4 times a week to 5 times a week. I also got accepted to race for a team for the 2017 season: Team Cycle Sport-Specialized p/b Muscle Milk. Between working with a coach and racing for Team Cycle Sport my racing and riding was taking on a whole new level, I was stoked and loving every bit of it.

In January I found out I got into Leadville MTB race via the general lottery I was shocked. I never thought that would happen. My goal was to qualify for Leadville either at the Austin Rattler or Tahoe 100k, and probably defer to race in 2018. But I got in for 2017 in January and this was enough time to prepare. I was trembling and crying when I found out...this meant this was the year I got to go back to Leadville and finish what I couldn't do in 2012 in the run (I didn't make the cut-off at the 50 miler mark for the run). This was not only a bucket race for me...but I truly had unfinished business at Leadville and I was not going to go back unless I was entirely sure I was capable of finsihing well above cutoff times.

Early in the season we focused on the shorter XC races: Sea Otter and local CCCX races. The 100k Austin Rattler was thrown in there too.
CCCX Race, March 4th, 2017 Cat 1

Sporting my new Team Kit

After completing the Wente 8hr solo race, June 3rd, 2017

After Sea Otter in April, I switched coaches and started working with Chris at Burnham Coaching the focus of training really changed from shorter harder intensity to focusing on Leadville 100 training. I continued to see progression in my training. In June I had my first hiccup at a race, I DNFd at Carson City Off Road 50 miler, due to heat exhaution. Four weeks later I was at Tahoe 100k hoping for a good finish that would move up my starting corral position at Leadville 100 MTB, and I had a horrible crash 15 miles into a 60 mile race. (I'll upload the race report in my next blog post). The instant I crashed...the first thing that went through my mind was "NO! Not Leadville." Well lucky enough, I walked away with badly bruised ribs and was back on the bike training 3 days later. Not without significant pain, but I wasn't letting that stop me from a finish at the 2017 Leadville 100 Mountain Bike.

So here I am now. Almost 4 weeks out from my crash at Tahoe 100k, and 3 days out from Leadville 100 MTB. I have two recent DNFs leading up to the Leadville and am terrified for another less then optimal outcome. But I truly believe I know what I am capable of and I hope that I can show what that is on Saturday. I have been in Leadville for almost two weeks now acclimating to the altitude. For those of you unfamiliar with Leadville, Leadville is an old mining town in Colorado situated in the Rocky Mountains at 10,200ft above sea level. The mountain bike race is 100miles that climbs up to 12,600ft at the Columbine mine, it's an out and back race, with a mass start of close to 2000 racers.

So was only appropriate I started blogging share my story of the Leadville 100 mountain bike race.

Some photos of where my bike has taken me these past two weeks in Leadville

Top of the Columbine Climb, 12,600ft above sea level
Turquoise Lake

Beautiful scenery everywhere

Bottom of Powerline

Mineral Belt Trail


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