Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Leadville Silver Rush 50 MTB, Winter Park Valley to Valley MTB, Maroon Peak
The last two weeks have brought a great deal of fun in the Colorado Rockies!
The Winter Park mountain biking series (www.epicsingletrack.com) has long been a staple of the Colorado mountain biking scene. On Saturday the 10th, I found out just why the races are so popular: excellent courses combine with a great environment and strong competition to make a great overall experience. I have not done too much cross country mtb racing and do not hold a pro license, but the Winter Park series allows all comers to race pro if interested. I have been focusing on cycling, so I decided to give the pro race a shot. Things went well on a steep, uphill start, and I got out in the top four heading into 23 miles of superb singletrack. After a bit of battling with another rider, who eventually pulled away on a winding section, I finished third overall.
A week later, Leadville, a classic Colorado mining town at 10,200', was the stage for the Leadville Silver Rush 50-mile mountain bike race. Part of the Leadville Trail 100 series, the course includes plenty of climbing and descending on steep, loose singetrack and two-track trails. I have been around the Leadville races since I watched my dad run the Leadville 100 when I was a little boy, and the series holds a special place in my heart.
The Silver Rush begins with fifty meters of bike-carrying up a very steep hill, and I made it to the top in third place. Excited to get ahead of any potential problems on a steep singletrack section a few hundred meters away, I took the lead shortly after the top of the first hill. The course wound over three significant climbs before the turnaround at 25 miles, and I had gained a lead of about ten minutes by that point. Feeling good, I continued to push hard to the finish and completed the race in a course record 3:52:34. I was happy with the win on a beautiful Colorado day!
Post-awards ceremony, it was off to a drive over Independence Pass for some camping at Crater Lake outside of Aspen. I met my good old friends from childhood at the Lake in the evening, and we woke up early the next morning for a summit bid on South Maroon Peak, a fairly challenging Class 3 peak. Through much perseverance up a very steep three thousand foot climb followed by some tricky route-finding, we made the summit just after 10am on another perfect mountain day. Summiting was a fitting pinnacle to the bachelor party of the one and only Erik Jackson!