Well, we made it to Leadville last night, elevation 10,200 feet and the simple act of carrying the bike up to the hotel room left me wheezing. I'm very nervous. I thought everyone at TransRockies last year looked quite fit, but they had nothing on this crowd. I feel out of place.
I made a desperate attempt to buy some speed by purchasing a pair of Kenda Small Block Eight tires last night for $54 apiece. Very low tread, fast-rolling tire. The tire of choice apparently. I'll have Crossmarks on my back-up wheels.
The rules for the race are a bit Draconian. We're allowed support crews and they can carry enough replacement parts to build a new bike, but I have to carry all of the tools on my person and I must do the repairs myself. Go figure. So, tonight, I have to make sure to install the back-up cassette onto my back-up rear wheel just in case I need it. Otherwise, I'd need to carry the cassette tool, wrench, and chainwhip in my Camelback. As if.
The riding we did on Wednesday and Thursday in Winter Park was awesome. I did the dirty and bought a lift ticket for Thursday, figuring I probably didn't need to do thousands of feet worth of climbing two days before the race. I did climb to the proper summit high above the lift at 11,200. Felt really good too.
But now I'm scared. We had an hour-long pre-race meeting today. The list of risks and hazards was long and ominous. Lance spoke for a while about how hard the climb to Columbine Mine was. He commented about hoping to stay within an hour of 5-time repeat champion Dave Wiens, but also mocked Chris Carmichael by promising to finish, eat, shower, and be on his 6th beer by the time Carmichael finishes. I have photos.
Kristin and I just got done driving to the aid stations. The main climb is going to be brutal. I've looked over the results from last year and it seems that the 20-mile roundtrip up the main climb and back down takes 3 hours for those finishing in the 11 to 12 hour range. 12 hours is the cutoff for "official finishers" and I'll need to be past the final checkpoint within 9 hours to have a shot at finishing. The final 26 miles seems to take roughly 3:15 for those near where I hope to be, so I'm hoping to get through there in 8 hours or so to not cut it too close.
This assumes that the body, weather, bike, and cycling Gods don't conspire against me.
The race starts at 6:30 am tomorrow morning. I hope I can get some sleep.