I made it to Leadville this afternoon and pre-rode the first third of the course. I definitely wasn't the only one out on the trail today. I ran immediately ran into a group just before the first dirt road outside of town, and made friends with a guy named Scott from Arizona. It was also his first time doing the Leadville 100. We did St. Kevins before running into two more guys pre-riding the course. We all rode up Sugarloaf Pass and down into the Powerline descent.
My bike is solid, with the exception of a few squeaks here and there from a dry drivetrain. Everyone I talked to about race-rigs agreed that my Specialized Epic was the way to go. While not the lightest setup amongst the group it was definitely the fastest and most comfortable on the descents, something that'll be a major factor over the course of a 100 miles.
I forgot my heart rate monitor strap at the lodge, so I couldn't record my effort. All I know is that I was definitely in zone 4 for the majority of the ride. The altitude is really affecting me. I started the day with a minor headache and shortness of breath. I could tell my heart-rate was elevated, which means I have to back off on the power and spin more.
The long descent from St. Kevins, followed by a short climb up to the start of Sugarloaf pass. This will be a make or break section on the way back.
Off-roading gone wrong. These guys were trying to drive up a steep stone grade and got stuck.
Turquoise Lake stretches below, separating St. Kevins and Sugarloaf Pass. It was really beautiful and exposed to the elements. The climb up Sugarloaf was really loose and rocky. While not as steep as St. Kevins it makes up for being more technical.
Just before the Powerline descent. It turns out to be a lot more gnarly than I thought. It's loose, and extremely fast. You have to make sure to pick the best line, otherwise the deep ruts will swallow your front wheel. I'll be riding down this very conservatively, giving the guy in front of me enough room. That way I'll be able to see the right line.
The course so far lives up to its name. There's a lot of climbing right off the bat, and it'll be important for me to pace myself early on. Some of the steep descents, such as the road descent from St. Kevins and the Powerline, will be daunting being towards the end of the race. My plan is to race conservatively all the way up to the Columbine mine climb, gauging to see if I have enough to push harder through the second half. Tomorrow I'll be previewing the Twin Lakes aid station and climbing to the top of Columbine.