Labor Day, Leadville, & the real ‘adventure’

Labor Day traditionally signals the end of summer.  I’m never too happy about this.  Living in the mountains, the summer is short and passes by entirely too quickly.  Already, we’ve had a dusting of snow on the high peaks, frost at the house, and the air is noticeably cooler.

Despite the chill, I’ve still gotten in a few fun rides over the last couple of weeks.  One was a birthday ride to celebrate a friend’s 40th and I had the opportunity to take another friend out for their first single speed ride.  There’s something very rewarding to me about introducing someone to single speed riding and seeing it ‘click’ with them and have them enjoy it.  My experience has been that people either love it or hate it and it makes me happy when they truly enjoy it.  My friend Lee was amazed at the snappy handling of El Gato and the precise tracking of the American Classic (AC) wheels.  The tubeless AC’s are quite remarkable.  The new bead barb design has allowed me to seat all of my tires this year by simply using a floor pump.  In fact, I’ve been able to seat most of them using a floor pump with only one hand!

The racing season is also starting to wind down.  Being on the road for so many weekends during the summer definitely adds velocity to the blur of summer flying by.  The Transylvania Epic, which was the real start of the season for me, seems like it was just a few weeks ago.  Now, here I am staring Labor Day straight in the face and wondering where it all went.

Fortunately (or not) I have two significant races and road trips coming up over the next two weeks.  In fact, I’m looking at nearly 3000 miles of driving and 25 hours of racing over the next two weekends.  This weekend is the inaugural 24/12 Hours of Leadville.  Reba and I are heading down to Leadville, CO again to participate and I’m looking forward to spending a bit more time in one of my favorite towns.  Reba will be racing as part of a four-person media team and I’ll be racing the 12 Hr race in the solo SS category.  I had originally planned on racing the 24 hour race, but then another fun little event came on the radar for next weekend causing me to rethink the depth of my suffering this weekend.

I have to drive back to Idaho for a few days of work next week, but then I’ll be heading right back to Salida, CO next weekend for the Vapor Trail 125 (VT 125).  The VT 125 is in it’s 5th year and has been on my radar of ‘must do’ events for some time.  I’ve done many 100 mile races and many 24 Hour solo races from the east coast to the west coast and from Canada to South America.  I can’t remember the last time an event made me nervous.  I always go in a little nervous about how tough the competition might be but never do I go in nervous about how hard the event will be or how tough it will be to just finish.  That is, until now.  The VT 125 is different.  The race starts in Salida, CO at 7K ft. and the first climb takes you up to 10K ft.  The rest of the course stays between 9-13K feet in elevation until the last 8 miles when you coast back down into Salida.  The format is pretty incredible as well in that the course is one huge 125 mile loop that offers up 20K feet of climbing.  No laps, no repeating anything, just all new terrain in front of you the entire time.  I recently saw a belt buckle from a particular stage race that I’m also hoping to do someday.  The buckle boasted the stats of the race “250 miles, 40K ft of climbing, 6 days”.  It occurred to me that the VT 125 covers exactly half of that distance and climbing, but that it does so in one day, not 3.  As if that weren’t quite enough, the race also starts at 10 p.m. on Saturday evening.   We’ll ride straight through the night and, if everything goes well, I’ll be finishing sometime around noon on Sunday with a smile on my face.  What it comes down to is that this ‘race’ is as much about the experience and finishing as it is about competing with anyone else.  The VT 125 offers up the kind of adventure that first captured my imagination about endurance racing.  It’s about riding your bike for a long time.  It’s about challenging yourself and your perceived limits.  It’s about thinking, being smart, taking care of yourself, and enjoying the adventure.  Personally, I just looking forward to seeing the sunrise from high upon the spine of the Rockies.

I’ll keep you posted.


~ by ketchumgreg on September 2, 2010.

4 Responses to “Labor Day, Leadville, & the real ‘adventure’”

  1. Good luck over the next two weeks and thanks for the great ride, you have ruined me as I am focused on a new bike….Santa I have been a good boy this year I promise! Be safe

  2. WOW. I didn’t realize the stats of the VT125. Looks quite impressive and definitely should be on someone’s list to do.

    Best of luck to you. You will do fine in all of those events.

    • Thanks D-fresh!
      Great work in the Breck Epic yourself! How was it? Sounded harder than PA…? The altitude in itself is a whole other challenge. Any other biggies left for you this season?
      I’m looking forward to the VT125. I’ll probably be a bit tired. I raced the 24 Hrs of Leadville this past weekend and had to ride for 14-15 hours (if i wanted to win it), which was a bit more than I was hoping to. The VT 125 will have some really frigid temps in the overnight and a good dose of altitude to deal with. I’m really hoping to just finish it without ‘groveling’ through it.

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