By Ina-Yoko Teutenberg
Earlier in the year I came with the idea doing Leadville 100 straight after the Olympics. My ex room-mates used to go to the race year after year and I was always jealous as it sounded like so much fun. A happening in other words and I really wanted to be part of it so I convinced Specialized in the spring to get me into the race and so they did! To be honest after the road race in London I thought to myself why the F@#* I got myself into the position to ride a 100m MTB race, but looking back on it I am so stoked I made the effort to go to Colorado and experience it.
After a couple of enjoyable days in London with more alcohol then needed it was good to get going on Thursday and making my way over to Colorado. My bike was shipped out to Denver and I was so excited I went straight there to get it. I am sure the staff thought I am mental as I asked too many stupid question about the bike and what to do….as you all know road bikes are fairly easy to figure out and all of a sudden this bike with brain shocks etc is standing in front of you and all I know about it is that I need to pedal but nothing else!
I took it up to Aspen and onto the trails, which was fun as long as I was able to breath in that altitude. I started to do research online as well what I all need to for the race etc…spare parts, food and drink wise and whatever I could read up. I was starting to get nervous days beforehand as I felt like I had no clue what I had got myself into….not that I wasn’t nervous for that big race in London the week before, but at least I am in my own back yard so it was scary ! Sure enough on the one long ride I did in Aspen I got totally lost…not a good idea going up a dead end canyon and bonking to just figure out you need to go all the way back and find a way home as well…guess first lesson learned for the roadie….no gas station to just pull over and have a Coke. I made it home that day somehow.
Thursday I made my way over to Leadville as Specialized had set me up to hang with the “Queen of Pain” aka Rebecca Rush, Greg and “Spidermonkey” aka Joe. We went out on a ride and I was at least pleased to know I wouldn’t be getting dropped badly on the downhill …was avoiding to think about the 3500m of altitude for race day. I just tagged along with Rebecca all day who showed me the ropes and how it was done at a MTB race. Think all those guys got a kick out of me not having a clue what I was doing and probably looking forward to seeing me suffer badly on race day…in a good way! The vibe in Leadville was amazing…you can feel the whole town is behind the race and so many people come in to do it so it is really busy all weekend long. The race meeting on Friday was an experience I will never forget. It is so different and I went out of there being pretty pumped up.
I think I had it all kind of figured out by the time we were about to start. I am an early bird on normal days but 4am wake up call on race day is even hard for me. A couple of coffees made it better but I have to say that breakfast did not taste all that great. It was dark when we rolled around to warm up a bit and when I found my place in the starting order. Insane to think 2000 people were at the start line with me and beginning the day long torture….I really had no clue what was going to hit me. The start was a lot of fun for me and I think I moved up about 200 places as people were so kind leaving lots of room…for sure way different than in road racing. The first part of the race I knew a little bit and I knew I better pace myself but as I sprinter that is always hard. Went ok up the first two mountains and found ok group before I got gapped off a little bit and came to the powerline downhill. They had told me it was bit steep and probably the hardest…I nearly shit my pants down there but I made it and ended up in a group with Rebecca. Now we had about 20m of flat roads with lots of wind….I over did myself a little bit there and started to bonked with about 60m to go…no big deal I thought to myself as I only had about 6h to go. And 6h it was where the first part going up Columbine hurt me so badly that I think I got passed back by the 200 people I overtook in the first couple of miles of the races. I had a bit of a problem with my bike as well but that figured itself out on the way down from Columbine and hard to believe but true I actually felt like I was recovering for the last part of the race which did last for another 3h.
To make a long story short…I finished my first Leadville 100 in 8h32 and earned me a big belt buckle (prize to finish under 9h for all the roadies who read this). My whole body was hurting and I was over eating race food. I went back straight to the house to open a bag of chips…. passed on the beer as I knew I would have passed out. I even had to endure being called a pussy later a night as I was still suffering so badly that I only had a beer or two…people who know me know that is unusual. Rebecca behaved like she had a walk in the park…holy shit do I have respect for those girls who do this stuff all the time. She won with a new course record and I got to say it was pretty cool being part of it and experiencing a total different side of bike riding…I WANT TO DO IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR AND GO UNDER 8H ….guess it didn’t hurt me long enough to not want more!
Thanks Specialized for making this happen!