One of the most challenging, and well known, single day mountain bike races in North America is being held tomorrow in Leadville, Colorado, where the Leadville Trail 100 will take place. The race is, actually 105 miles in length, featuring an out and back format that punishes riders not so much with its technical challenges but with the high altitude, and challenging climbs, that they’ll have to contend with. The ride begins at 10,500 feet, and includes over 11,600 feet of climbing, with a net gain of more than 2000 feet over the length of the course.
A few years ago this event was well known amongst mountain biking fans, but was barely a blip on the radar for the mainstream population. Than a little-known rider by the name of Lance Armstrong elected to join the fun, and managed to do quite well for himself, claiming second place in 2008 behind six time Leadville champ Dave Wiens. Armstrong’s participation in the race gave it lots of coverage, particularly after he failed to win, something that many people thought was a foregone conclusion.
Shortly after the 2008 Leadville 100, Armstrong announced his return to competitive cycling, and a more prepared, and in shape, Lance showed up last year to let everyone know who was the boss. That Lance Armstrong one the race going away, smashing the course record, and riding the last 65 miles alone, in the process. Unfortunately, he won’t be back to defend his title this year, as he pulled out of the race earlier this week.
Armstrong’s departure doesn’t diminish the talented field all that much however, as Wiens is back to try to reclaim his title, while fending off strong competitors like Levi Leipheimer, Armstrong’s Radioshack teammate, and Matt Shriver, who finished third last year. Other talented, but first time, Leadville hopefuls included Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Todd Wells and Jeremiah Bishop, all of whom have designs of winning the race.
Overall, there will be more than 1500 riders from 48 states and 21 countries, on hand to challenge each other and the course itself. Of those, there are 10 current and past National Champions, six U.S. Olympians, and four Mountain Bike Hall of Famers, making this one of the deepest fields in any race of its kind.
It should be a fun race, wish I were in Leadville to cover it. To my friends heading there, have a blast!
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