I made up to Truckee, CA for this weekend's Leadville qualifier. I arrived a couple of days early to get used to the thin and dry mountain air and pre-ride the course.. It was a beautiful drive through Donner Pass to Northstar where I'm staying, which is where the race starts, too. It's only a three and half hour drive from San Francisco.
After checking in and grabbing some lunch I ran into some riders that were also pre-riding the course, but was told it wasn't completely marked. I had the entire afternoon to myself and decided to ride the course anyways. I went at half speed expecting an easy ride. I got turned around a few times and doubted my sense of direction, but sure enough I completed one of two loops.
The Northstar resort sits at around 6,800' above sea level. The air is incredibly dry and thin. I didn't think altitude would affect me, but I have noticed my lack of power and shortness of breath while going at half my normal race-pace. It was really hot in the afternoon, and I think it had an additional effect on me. Thankfully I have all day Saturday to rest up, pre-ride the course again and acclimate.
I'm not sure what my plan of attack is, but this course is a lot harder than it looks on paper. Each lap is over 30 miles and climbs over 4,000'. The first section pretty much climbs up the face of a ski slope, making it one of the harder sections of the course. It's a loose and long climb before it flattens out and turns into single-track. It's a mix of fire road, double track and single-track going around the base of Pluto Mountain. The grades are deceiving and hard on your legs, but maybe that's just the thin air.
Speaking of Saturday, Dave Weins and Rebecca Rusch, both Leadville 100 champions, are hosting a group pre-ride, discussing race tactics and course details. I saw Dave later in the evening pull up to the condo next mine, talking briefly with race organizer and founder Ken Clouber. It's really cool to see these figures of the sport roll up next to you.
Overall I'm feeling pretty good about Sunday. I rarely get to chance check out the course beforehand. It's a real advantage to know when and where to push your tempo, where all the technical and easy section are for recovery and making up time. I'm hoping to do one more lap tomorrow before the big day on Sunday.