Leadville Race Report:
I will try to be as eloquent as some people have been with the race report write-ups. Amazing stories out there. With that I will start with the pre-race meeting we had on Friday Afternoon.Seeing the veterans of the Phoenix Patriot Foundation and the riders associated toughing out this race with no arms, or one leg; pure will power is something that most of us Endurance athletes know all about. I cannot compare myself to these amazing veterans that not only know this will power to succeed and complete such a monumental challenge, but have physical limitations on top of that! KUDOS to these guys and gals that push on, what an inspiration and tear jerker as Ken Chlouber speaks with so much emotion and conviction that we would not have this race series if it were not for the freedom we have in this country.
20 Years this race has gone on with so many inspirational stories. I am honored to have had the opportunity to become 1 of the 2000 people that gain access to this race though an individual whom some day will over come the pain bodies that keep this person from completing a race like this. As I sit in this gym looking at the amount of people thinking back at the movie “Race across the sky” that now I am one with this family, my nerves get the best of me and I find myself having watery eyes listening to the stories of Ken and feeling an overwhelming sense of emotion. Heavy pain, sweat and sacrifice has gone into making this event even possible to me. A few years ago I went biking with a good friend Jeff Ritzheimer whom told me about the Leadville race as we were heading to Rampart Reservoir in CO. I thought this was crazy but felt I can do this. Just prior to this I was motivated to loose weight (50 Pounds) as I was at 199.7 Pounds by my own wife Rachel Rachel Shaw Carlson. Lugging around the only bike I had which was a Specialized Enduro 34 Pounds worth I found myself doing hill repeats early in the mornings. Soon after I met up with Daniel Munoz and Father Jr. Munoz as they took me into their pack (few years ago). Never would I think to do even 50 miles on a mountain bike this reality was soon broken though the push and dedication that Daniel Munoz has with people.
So here I am tears and all feeling honored to be with this new found family as Ken puts it. Preparing to “Dig Deep” as the miners did here in Leadville. My goal was to complete this course in less than 9 hours and bring home a big buckle to hang proud along side the Big Barn Burner buckle that qualified me into this race. Ken finishes the racers meeting with “You are better than you think you are, You can do more than you think you can” asking us then to repeat after him “I commit, I won’t quit”, soon the entire gym then chants this commitment. I feel so empowered to get this done! I can do this, and I will not quit.
Race Morning Saturday Aug 10th 6:15 Daniel and I ride up to start our day long journey in these mountains. We seemed to have been blessed with a beautiful sunrise with no clouds in site, as previous days have been cloudy and rainy. (Photo left courtesy of Pink Shorts Photography) It is cold, and I was not looking forward to taking off my jacket. The Race promo video starts up and pumps us up for the monumental task ahead of each of the 1800 men and women standing there, followed by the Star spangled banner as being broadcast with the sight of the flag waving in the wind. Time to take off my jacket suck up the cold. The gun fires and we are off, racing down 6th street at 35-40 Mph.
The buzzing of a thousand knobby tires on asphalt was amazing. Everyone has there race face on and ready to concur this course. People bumping each other and weaving to move ahead of the peloton to gain the advantage of climbing our first climb St. Kevins without people stoping in front. I hear someone yell “come on men, I didn’t buy this 19 pound bike to slam my breaks” Before I knew it we were at St. Kevins (no relation I was climbing like nobodies business and feeling great! Yelling out my moves to people ahead, Cheering on friends that I pass (Mike and Laura on Tandem), then soon after Lauren. Zoom zoom.. we go though the woods and already the first checkpoint and down to the bottom of Sugar loaf climb.
Here I was now at the top of Powerline decent and seeing the same as others, many people coming to a stop at the sight of the smallest rut.. I start to yell come on boys, keep it rolling, looking for a safe place to pass, and telling the person good job as I do so. Knowing that having a fast descent is not going to win this race I love the adrenaline rush of the faster descents Flying down the last stretch of power line at scary speeds (oh so fun) we head out on our way though pipeline over to the next mind blowing battle of Columbine. Looking down at my time I am ahead of schedule (1:27) and ready to kill this course. I remember thinking I cannot wait to see my kids and wife cheering me on giving me the motivation to keep it up, and next I know here they are! The sounds of “DADDY” and “YOU GOT THIS” come though with joy and the amazing bottle hand off as I start up the first climb over to Columbine.
OK OMG this climb is never ending, round and round the crank goes, sucking down Powerbar gels, sipping my prolong endurance drink. I need to eat, but I am not hungry.. EAT now.. but Im not hungry.. this battle kept up till the last part of columbine, the infamous lung burning part where most everyone walks the bikes up to the last crest.. Thinking I can climb this I just did it no problem, except wait we are at over 50 miles now.. and thousands of feet already climbed. I am not sure if its a curse or a sight of beauty as I see the Check Point and SAG Tents at the top of this mountain still seeming miles away and hundreds of bikers hiking up this grade. Alas I make it, snag a banana ok maybe 2 of them and heading back down to meet up with the Kids and Rachel. Not bad as I look at my time and see I still made my time queues for an 8:30 finishing time. SO much fun flying down that mountain! Time to recover but keep those legs moving!
I arrive back at the sight of my family showing the pain of the prior climb in my face and sigh. Soon to follow Travis meeting up with his wife Paula. “Kevin have any enduralites” No sorry man… I take back off and head back the same way we came, knowing the next major pain will be Powerline climb. Uhh oh something happened to my power on pipeline, energy started to dwindle, but I am still ok for the moment just need to eat, and keep drinking my fluids.
What I needed was a quick jolt of sugar to get back into the game, so I snag a cup of coke at pipeline sag and continue on. Ok feeling better as I remember, lets catch back up to Travis only a few min ahead of me at this point..
CLICK CLICK CLICK CLANG KLACK, My rear tire froze up as I come skidding to a stop at 20+ mile per hour. I remember OH man this is not good. I get off my bike and see my rear derailleur hanging off my frame. I say to myself its ok I have a hanger in the car. I look down to assess the damage as people come flying by knowing they are saying “That sucks”, “Bummer man”, “Oh thats not a pretty sight” Well they were right, I would have said the same thing in my mind. My Chain was wrapped around my rear cassette not once, but twice. I looked at my front derailleur and see that its majorly bent. I walk up a few feet to county road 11a and talk to a volunteer directing traffic to ask if there was a SAG truck. Not that I know the gentleman said. I then pulled out my phone and it said searching… DAMN, Can I borrow your phone?
I called Rachel and left her a message thinking, I hope she gets this.
Turning my bike upside down to start tearing down the damaged parts, I take a photo to post on Facebook with the title “Looking Grim” Later to find it never posted… about 45 Min Pass by, and I see the sight of Rachel in the Touareg So happy.. This is not over yet. I will not get my sub 9 hour but I have made the commitment that I will not quit. Also knowing that Dan was about to finish the race I called Corey (his support) to prepare his bike as he comes in as I might need to finish on it. I pull out my tools to start fixing the bike, and realize how much worse everything was. Front derailleur was torn but still bendable and can manage the remainder of the ride, however the pulleys were broke for the rear derailleur, not to mention the carbon gage was also torn being healed on by 1 layer of carbon. We stripped the Bolt for the derailleur hanger, so now due to the force of the hanger being jammed up into the derailleur we had to try to get the sucker off. Matt Buffington (wives cousin was also there) thanks to him I was able to get this job done. The bike was patched up but then noted that the chain was bent in two places, fixed this and continued to the next hurtle the rear break pad spring had somehow got bent.. so I had to unbend this and get the wheel spinning again.
FINALLY YAY.. Im off, but have to suffer the wind by myself heading back up route 300 to Powerline. The Strava people as promised were just past the fish hatchery and I grabbed my small can of coke (yes another). Tossed it and continued up power line.. WOW I am amped! and it was showing. The Crowd on power line was still there and everyone was walking their bikes up the crazy first part of the climb except one peaker… Yes that would be me. The crowed was going crazy as if being awoken again from a daze. They were grabbing people out of the way and yelling “GO GO GO”, “LOOKING GOOD”, “YOU GOT THIS” then I over corrected a turn and came to a stop, however as I am balancing my bike on this incline, somehow manage to correct my turn and continue to peddle. Again the crowd went crazy yelling “OMG”, “WHAT A GREAT RECOVERY”, “AMAZING”. Yes it felt good and the people in the race walking their bikes also greeting me with excitement and encouragement. After about the 4th false peak however my drivetrain started acting up and causing issues. I decided at this moment it was not worth the extra effort I was putting into this as I was not going to finish in less than 9 hours.
I needed to just finish the race, and get my Buckle. Taking the descent down Sugar loaf slower than I normally would as I didn’t want my pulley cage to snap, and making the last major climb back up to St. Kevins (yes again no relation though i need to check him out sounds like a good dude) I remember getting to the last check point feeling wiped out from that last climb up Hangerman Pass. I actually stopped this time and grabbed another banana.. I hope the video doesn’t catch me lol. Home Strech! Down the mountain I go.. OH SHIT I forgot Little bugger of a hill. OK NOW Im home stretch down the hill I go to the boulevard, a long and nasty feeling incline dirt road back to 6th street. I remember looking down at my Garmin seeing 102 miles, moving along and looking down what seemed several minutes later and it still being at 102..
I passed Ricky McDonald “Team Huffy” Yelled you got this! Go Huffy. Not realizing this was his 2000 mile year. (20 years of riding this race)
The Red Carpet was in view now..
Danika (my daughter) comes running out yelling Go Daddy Go.. She runs along side me to the finish, and tears come to my eyes as I am watching my daughter look up at me with so much excitement. Kaden comes running to me yelling DADDY! I am done now. 10:40 min what a long day. So much to take in.. I would have not finished this race if it were not for my amazing crew.. (Matt and Tammy and Rachel) go Carlson’s. Rachel was out with the kids all day long 3 and 6 years of age, dealing with my drama and the kids. So proud of her.. I wish there was a crew metal for this race, because she deserved it. Daniel finishes in an impressive 7:3o minutes, guess that means next year we will have to do it again.
A few days now have passed, waiting for the videos to air and the photos to roll in.The excitement is starting to die down. The lessons learned from this event and leading up to it will forever be engraved here on this post and in my memories. Thanks everyone that helped make this possible. Also thanks to all the great friends I have around to support me! B-Rads Bike shop for the last minute repairs and expertise! Also thanks to John Bailey for a frame that was strong enough to make it though the race (as we later found it was cracked). Bailey ended up replacing the frame as part of there amazing warranty (as it got damaged)! Crank Brothers deserves a shout out as well, because due to the derailleur jamming the rear wheel, not a single spoke was busted.
For info on what this belt buckle is all about check out this great video: