Editor’s note: The road to Leadville twists and turns taking riders through disparate parts of the world. For many of the hearty souls starting Colorado’s Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race, getting there will mean pedaling countless hours on the roads and trails near wherever home may be.
For others — like Lance, who won Leadville in 2009, and Levi, a likely LT100 rookie — the road runs through France. For Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, another Leadville 2010 newbie, the road includes cross-country races in North America and Europe before ending, or beginning, in Leadville, elevation 10,152 feet.
For six-time LT100 winner Dave Wiens, the road to Leadville is a well-trodden route, one he’s written on and off about over the last few years in a training diary on the Ergon blog. Leading up to the August race Dave is once again chronicling his training, which we’ll have here on Singletrack.com. So, without further ado, here’s Dave:
I’m a huge advocate of keeping a training log. That being said, I have some gaps in my training history over the years. Even during my prime as a pro, I occasionally fell off the wagon and didn’t document short time spans during the winter. Of course, nothing very specific was happening then anyway.
Then I straight-up stopped tracking my training altogether after the 2000 season and didn’t pick my pencil back up until my prep phase during the summer of 2007 as I was preparing for the Leadville 100. That ended up being the race against Floyd and I mapped out training and tracked what I did beginning right after the Firecracker 50 in Breckenridge that July 4th. (Okay, I just looked high and low for my training from the last few years and came up empty. We just moved one of the twins into a new bedroom, formerly my office, and all of my stuff is in disarray. I’ll find it eventually and may refer to parts of it for this blog.) I stopped logging that year right after the race with Floyd then picked up again in 2008 beginning around April 1st.
Being highly motivated, I was a devout logger from that time through the Leadville race last summer; that’s well over a year of daily fitness activities!
However, I stopped after that race and have not picked it back up. And I won’t. Not for any good reason other than that life is busy and I’m keen to see how I go at Leadville this year without really mapping it out and tracking it, other than what I put down on this blog. I’m a lousy blogger, by the way, so don’t be surprised if this is my only entry between now and the race!
Also, I likely won’t include many photos. Stopping to take photos while training is counter intuitive to me; I’m just not going to do it. Also, if you’re a hardcore training science kind of a person, you won’t get much out of what I do. If Carmichael’s web site is www.trainright.com, mine would probably be considered to be www.trainwrong.com by the cerebral training elite out there. — Dave Wiens
Entry #8 (Previous entries): ROAD TO LEADVILLE: MONARCH CREST
by Dave Wiens
Friday July 16, 2010 – My only obligation for the day was an 8am meeting in Salida. For those of you that don’t know, the drive from Gunni to Salida is on US Highway 50 over the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass. That just happens to be the start of the world renowned Monarch Crest ride. I didn’t want to end up back in Salida, which is the classic way this is ridden, but I did want to get in about 4 hour of riding at high elevation.
My plan was to simply ride the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) south for about 2 hours, turn around, and come back. The CDT crosses Highway 50 at Monarch Pass and the typical Crest Trail ride starts on the CDT on top of Monarch Pass. Early on, the Colorado Trail (CT) joins the CDT from the eastern side and, now as one, they continue south across Marshal Pass finally intersecting the Silver Creek Trail. Silver Creek is the Crest ride and drops back down east toward Salida.
At this intersection, I stayed straight on the CDT/CT combination. It was decent trail for a few more miles – some steep, loose climbing – but then it topped out and started a rocky, eroded plunge. I continued on, hoping for a respite in the rate of descent and an increase in the quality of the trail. I knew I’d be pushing my bike back up this and when it only continued to plummet, I finally made the call to turn around. I was only at about an hour and a half into the ride so I knew I’d need to supplement somehow to get to four hours.
The CDT/CT straight-up sucks in this area and I’ve heard from Colorado Trail Race (CTR) veterans that the Cochetopa Hills area, which I was just getting into to, is one of the most brutal of the race. Isolated as hell, rocky and steep up and down as the same, and only about half way to Durango.
Needless to say, many a rider with CTR ambitions ends up pulling the plug once they get through this section and to Colorado Highway 114. Quitting the CTR here means you’re only 40 miles of paved headwind from civilization and McDonald’s in Gunnison. I couldn’t help but think about Jefe Branham and Jeff Kerkove and the rest who would be on this same section of trail with much heavier bikes and legs in a couple of weeks. Good luck fellas (and ladies, if any are up for it. Not sure if a woman has completed the CTR?)
On the way back, I turned down Silver Creek but only went about a half mile before turning around and returning to the CDT/CT. As I mentioned, that’s the classic ride and supposedly one of the best descents around as it heads down toward Salida. I have never done it. I live in Gunnison and a ride that ends in Salida creates some issues, mainly that have to do with time. I have done our version of the Crest ride a bunch of time, Agate Creek, but I’m sure it pales in quality compared to the classic Crest Trail ride.
The trail rides great back to the north with some punchy climbs. Since it was a weekday, I encountered few riders. I would not recommend riding the Crest in this direction on a weekend. Can you say MTB traffic jam? I got back to the top of Monarch at about three and a half hours and 4,500 vertical feet of climbing.
I really wanted closer to four hours and 5,000 feet of climbing so I crossed 50 and rode the CDT north to Old Monarch Pass and back. Done. It was 215pm and not a thunderhead in sight, which is very rare for this time of year. I battled back to Gunni with RV’s and a small group of ding-dong motorcyclists that couldn’t decide if they wanted to ride at 65mph or 45 mph (in a 65mph zone). Much danger!
Killer fresh coleslaw (cabbage, carrots, onions, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, Serrano peppers, cauliflower, broccoli and radishes), gnocchi and designer sausages for dinner with the boys and a patio campfire.
Not a clue what ‘s in store for my weekend riding but I’m feeling the need to get out on the road bike at least one day. When is my wife coming home?