THE ROAD TO LEADVILLE: USA MARATHON CHAMPIONSHIPS

by Dave Wiens

Yesterday marked the first Firecracker 50 in years where I didn’t flat. For once, I was one of the guys who was able to be steady, not flat, and I did not suffer a mechanical.

This course is absolutely brutal on tires and equipment. Guys all around me were blowing up or getting flats. Amazingly, I found myself in 3rd place halfway through the last lap.

My start was brutally hard. But I managed to stay toward the front; still not able to go with eventual winner, JHK and the leading group, but I did hang onto the second group…that is until we hit the trail off of Boreas Pass.

There, I thought I was going to die. My legs were cooked and I was thinking that it might be the beginning of the end.

Having no choice, I backed off and eventually fell into a group that contained Jeremiah Bishop, Jay Henry, Jake Wells and Burke Swindlehurst.

Late in the lap, Jake fell off the pace and then Jay charged up the road while JB, Burke and myself settled into a pretty sane pace.

As the course hits the dirt, there’s a little side-show party called the Wild Turkey Jump. My advice is avoid it! If not, you’ll be able to find yourself on You Tube if you search dumbass bike racer!

JB and Burke slowed and let me get back on for the 3% grade of Boreas Pass. Burke dropped back just as we caught up to a suffering Jay Henry
entering the singletrack.

Jeremiah was riding hard and had opened a gap on me but began losing his battle to a slow leaking rear tire. He slowed to a stop to make a repair as I rode past. Been there.

On the last lap, I passed another victim with a flat on the narrow flume trail that is a mine field of razor sharp rocks.

Other than some quality leg cramping (if you ever cramp, my advice is to just keep the legs spinning and don’t ever get off of your bike)  I kept it steady to the finish and crossed in third place for the day. But I was still many minutes behind the team Gary Fisher steamroller of JHK and Sam Schultz.

I went into the race with very little riding the week before, which is not what I usually do. Resting two days out is typical, but I usually like to get in a decent ride the day before which was difficult due to family obligations.

My internal fuel consisted of two french toast bagels with peanut butter and jelly. A banana, too. Those fueled me really well. I added three gels per lap and drank about two bottles of Gatorade spiked with maltodextrin.

Now, I’ll take a break for 3 or 4 days and then continue with randomly purposeful training for Leadville that might be summed up as less time on the bike, but with more focused intensity.

My biggest challenge at Leadville this year will be how to ride hard enough to make the initial selection and not be totally blown from that initial effort.

If I can hang, then I’ll still be able to get to the finish line. Maybe with a respectable time!

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4 Responses to “THE ROAD TO LEADVILLE: USA MARATHON CHAMPIONSHIPS”

  1. Dave,

    It looks like you are still riding a 26″ bike? If so, why? I currently ride a 26″ rigid titanium with 100mm shock up front, but I’m wondering if I should take the next step to a 29″? Your thoughts are appreciated.

    p.s., kick LA’s ass this year!

  2. Team sponsors Rotwild and Magura do not make 29er products.

  3. @Joe: But Rotwild is a german based bike manufacturer. And here in Germany 29ers do not sell. Don´t know why, but its the same thing with Fullys. Still tons of folks ride races on hardtails.

    Has Lance already announced his participation for Leadville ?

  4. Dave Wiens Says:

    Yes, it’s true that Rotwild does not make a 29er. I’d like to try one but for now my 26 is fine. I think the whole 29er thing will be clear in a couple more years. If the top XC guys in Europe start using them and win on them, then there’s something to it. In my mind, the jury is still out, although JHK tells me he thinks his is a huge advantage.

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