Thursday, August 25, 2005

Our Cycling roots...

K. Daum

Do you know why you ride, take chances blazing down the single track or soaking in the scenery on a long road ride? It hit me this evening, nearly two weeks after returning from the Leadville 100 - I finally figured out where I obtained my obession and madness for cycling and the journey known as the ride. The R.I.D.E. gene comes from within my family. It appears I obtained the vital R & I genes from my grandfather, William and D & E genes from my mother and father - thus creating the near perfect R-I-D-E gene.

I was presented with the following article this summer, taken from a Mansfield newspaper 60+ years ago. My grandfather, Willam Daum age 14, his brother Jack age 16, and Cousin Richard age 18 traveled 997 miles from Mansfield, Ohio to Washington DC and back. On SINGLE SPEEDS!!! Carring their water in Canteens and the total trip only cost them $15.00 each! They slept in barns and jails for free. I spoke to my Grandfather and uncle Jack a couple months ago and the story was astonishing. I'll reflect on that conversation in the near future. Until then, click on the photo below to read the article, you should be able to enlarge the photo twice to view. Enjoy.

The Daum clan spinning on classic single speed bikes, 997 miles from Ohio to Washington DC and back - 60+ years ago!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Other Leadville Articles - check em out!

A great article about the 2005 Leadville 100. The first is a must read by the fat cyclist who took a tape recorder and asked people questions during the race, you can only image their responses. The second link is to his blog, check em out!

CyclingNews.com

Fat Cyclist Blog

tpurvis

5280

Friday, August 19, 2005

Leadville Trail 100 - version '05

If you never try, you’ll never know!
The Kevin Daum - LT100 Story

The journey to Leadville is more about the ability to overcome… as race promoter Ken Chlouber says in his opening remarks, “Dig Deep….You’re better than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can!”

My second Leadville 100 is a story about life, love and inner desire to push myself beyond where common sense screams and fights with you inner will to stop. Unbeknownst to myself, the second journey started 3 weeks before my first LT100 in 2004. It was a sunny day at the end of July, I was putting the finishing touches on my mountain bike when the love of my life, my wife Connie, tapped me on the shoulder and presented me with the gift of life. “What does that mean”, I said as I wiped the grease from my hands. She looked at me like I was joking, but I really had no idea what color represented what? “Uh, I think we need to go to the doctor before we go to Colorado. We’re pregnant! She gleamed!

Three weeks later we where in Leadville Colorado for my first LT100, what an epic experience. I drove myself into the ground, 6 feet under to be exact. I had no idea how I crossed the finish line? I zoned, zonked and blacked out! I thought it was going to be my last race, so I pushed myself beyond my limits falling short of my 9 hour goal by 45 minutes. A baby on the way, I’ll be a family man in 7 months, no way I will return to Leadville. My first LT100 in 2004 destroyed me and I did not want to return to this state of broken, mindless, senseless, and downright insane decay of body, mind and soul.
Click here for my first LT100 story.

Let me fill you in on a brief description of the LT100 before we move on. America’s highest altitude 100 mile off-road mountain bike race. “The race across the sky” is what they call it. It is one of the pinnacles of ultra distance races, both for bike and running. Yup, that’s right…they also hold a 100 mile running race, takes most participants 20-30 hours to complete and takes place the weekend after the bike race. Back to the bike race, the obvious goal is to win but that is not the vibe at this race, for 80% of the racers the goal is to survive your mind telling you to quit, find fortitude and finish the race in under 12 hours. If you finish with 9-12 hours a prized trophy is yours…a beautiful handcrafted silver belt buckle(only 60% finish within the 9-12 cut off time) Once you know you can finish in under 12 hours the race is on for the under 9 hour finish, and the coveted large “silver and gold” belt buckle, usually reserved for the top 50 racers. The bike race travels mountain trails that gain and descend 15,000 vertical feet. Hypothermia, altitude sickness, broken bones, delirium, exhaustion and lightening are just a few details that we participants encounter. The race starts in downtown Leadville at 9,000+ ft above sea level and climbs a total of five mountains on your way to the out and back 103 miles, the highest point of the race occurs around mile 50, a 12,800 foot climb up Columbine Mountain. The air is thin; the trail gets steep and your head pounds, searching for oxygen to supply the muscles and heart with the needed energy to keep systems a go! Then you turn around and descend at speeds close to 40 mph on loose and rocky fire roads, climb two more mountains and return to the town of Leadville. Are you ready?

November 2004, I’m finally recovered from my first LT100 when the postcard arrives in the mail, indicating that all entries into the 2005 race must be received soon, very soon, the next day in order to be accepted into the 2005 ultra long distance event. What do I do? My wife looks me in the eye, senses my nervous tensions and says you know what you need to do! “Don’t question yourself, go for it” she tells me. I bark back about the baby on the way, how the hell am I going to train, adjust and adapt to our new arrival. She smiled, shrugged her shoulders and said “send the entry in, we’ll find a way.”

Landon was born four months after I sent my entry in, on March 31, 2005 to be exact. A glorious day! Four days after my birthday and 135 days until my second attempt at a sub-nine hour finish at Leadville. Training was right on schedule, up til now. I knew what I had to do, but how can I do both? The search was on to find a new balance in my life - to be there for my new family and to find time for my passion in life…the bike. I fought with myself, searching for harmony; “Dig Deep” had a new meaning. Waking up with Landon three times a night and still getting up before work to get on the trainer, or to slip in a quick ride after work, before I got home. When I got the chance I would throw on my winter gear and do a 6-8 hour Sunday ride with my training partner and chief motivator Ken in the middle of a nasty, cold and salty Ohio winter. I watched in horror as my training volume was cut in half, but those hours became more specific and defined. “Is it possible?” I would ask myself as I looked in the mirror and saw the dark circles under my eyes. There came a time where I told my wife I am not going, it’s not fair to you and baby Landon. Then I would try the selfish excuse, I don’t want to put myself through the pain and agony of Leadville for another 9+ hour time, I already had the small buckle, don’t want another. I desire the coveted big daddy gold buckle reserved for the 50 or so sub nine hour finishers if I’m going to wreck my body again. She just smiled, I tried to argue why I shouldn’t go and she saw right thru me.

August 13, 2005, 5:30 am, 40 degrees, I’m lining up for my second Leadville Trail 100. I look at my 4 month old son with tears in my eyes and say this one is for you little guy. He smiles back, he knows!


At 6:30 the start gun fires off and 750 rapid and hungry mountain bikers are on for the battle of their lives. The 360 days of training, educating, and nourishing my body are behind me. The long discussions with Ken about what changes we are going to make this year are complete. This year I kept refining my diet, I’m 15 pounds lighter but still tilt the scale at 185 with a 6’-4” inch frame. I make the brutal decision to switch bikes and save even more weight by riding my hard tail bike rather then my full suspension. I decide to take less gear and food with me, lightening my load. I feel good. Damn good to be alive and descending with the pack out of downtown Leadville and into the mountains. I move up into the top 40 riders or so and go thru the mental check list. SCREECH, BAMB, POP, SLAM….the sounds you do not want to hear, they are behind me, a nasty crash at 30mph, a couple riders go down hard. I hope Ken escaped the carnage. I’m glad I pushed to get up front and out of the nervous energy in the middle of the pack. After 3 miles of gently swerving road, spreading out the pack a bit, the pace vehicle pulls off and the race is on. I’m up front and watch as the leaders find their rhythm. I watch the other Ohio rider Garth, (a top 20 finisher several times) stand up and puts the power to the cranks and catches the main group. I hang on to the back of pack and drop into my zone. I watch as the leaders race up the first hill, St. Keven…they are gone!

Click here to view a video of the start of the LT100. You gotta see what 700+ riders looks like (I had no idea)

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LT100 Start

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LT100 Start

The race has 5 time check points, they are there for safety sake, everyone is encouraged to continue, even if they are off the pace, but will eventually be pulled from the race if they can not complete the 103 mile race in under 13 hour time pace. I had studied the check point times and had planned for a nine hour race. The split times where taped to my handle bars. My own race was forming, the race from checkpoint to checkpoint.

STATION....Time Goals..Actual Time In/Elapsed Time Place
Start
Pipeline - Pass 1.....2:00....8:28:00./.001:58:00...........33
Twin Lakes - Pass 1...2:44....09:12:00./.002:42:00..........34
Columbine Mine........4:30....11:09:00./.004:39:00..........53 (the climb)
Twin Lakes Pass 2.....5:10....11:42:00./.005:12:00..........59
Pipeline Pass 2.......6:10....12:38:00./.006:08:00..........56
Finish................8:57....15:18:56./.008:48:56..........58

I could not believe Ken & I started the morning with no breakfast, yes, that’s correct…no food leading up to the race. I’ve been studying nutrition for a bit, still have a lot to learn, but we picked up a ton of knowledge from Hammer Nutrition. The food you eat in the hours leading up to an ultra event have the potential to sit in your stomach and cause huge problems later in the race (ask Ken about 2004) We started our 100% liquid nutrition diet from the start line. No solid food for 8 hours leading up to the event, and none during the 9 hour attempt. I felt great.

I made it up the first mountain, St. Keven and down the other side, then made the climb up Haggerman Pass which leads up to the 2nd mountain of the day. Then the ever popular Powerline decent. A 15 minute downhill joy ride through rocks, water bars and huge rain ruts - a giant smile on my face…I was relaxed and having a good time. What made the downhills so much fun is our preparation. The week before the race, my family drove out to Colorado to help crew for the race. My dad volunteered to drive Ken and I up to the top of each mountain, sometimes twice. So we could save our climbing legs for the race and master the downhills. I hope my father realizes how much that helped us, knowing which turns we needed to snag a tad of brake and others we could take at full speed. So the Powerline held no real surprises this year, it was rough, nasty and pretty darn predictable. Thanks Dad! The race was on to check point one!

I made it to check point one, looked at my time…I was two minutes faster then I needed to be, that was good. I knew the big climb was coming after the next aid station. I worked with several guys, actually…one guy pulled the entire pipeline. I was ready to exchange pulls, but he kept a good pace and never looked for help. I was in 34th place at the bottom of the climb and right on schedule, but the bastard climb was right underneath my tires! I had worked and trained on the hills as much as I could, but I still weighed 50 pounds more then most of the sub-nine Colorado finishers. Last year I lost over 40 positions on this climb…well…I dropped into my climbing zone and went at it. By the time I was at the top, I only lost 20 positions, I wasn’t happy, but a good improvement over 2004, and I felt 100% better then last year. I snatched some watermelon slices, grabbed my bike and began the descent. The entire mountain from top to bottom was filled with riders ascending to the top, the determination on everyone faces told a different story about way they were there. A senator, a governor, a cancer survivor, doctors, lawyers, all together with a common bond of hurt and fortitude; we were all connected in our own personal goal of conquering this race.

The race was on to check point 4, the final crew station. After dropping time on the climb, I recovered a couple of minutes on the descent. On the pipeline, I again worked with several guys the entire way, the strong guys pulled for minutes, the weaker for a couple of seconds, giving what they had but each contributing…until the end of the race that is…we’ll get to that in a minute.

I made it back to the final check point, 5 minutes ahead of schedule. The sub nine is within reach if I don’t blow up! I try not to think about it. I decide on just two water bottles, some Hammer Nutrition pills and I was off. Hooked up with another guy and we worked the road back to the Powerline, trying to get others on board as we passed them. Then it appeared…the POWERLINE, the monster climb at around mile 80. I rode up the first part as much as I could…way to much as a matter of fact. As I dismounted to begin the hike-a-bike I was out of breath and my head was spinning and throbbing - I thought I was loosing it. I rested my head on the handle bars for a few moments, nobody that passed me asked; they were all going thru the same thing. I opened my eyes and saw the pictures of Landon I had taped to my handlebars.

I smiled, grabbed my bike and pushed on. After the push I jumped on my bike and did not get off til the finish line. I set a pace I was comfortable with, I did not care if anyone passed me, ½ hour later I was at the top of dreaded climb number 4. A guy behind me gently spoke between breaths “way to go - perfect pace”. Danny was his name, Brenkenridge was his game. He was on my wheel the entire climb. Last year I stopped several times on this climb and walked. This year, aside from the lower half, I rode the entire thing. I was shocked, personal goal achieved! I talked a bit with the rider, it was his second year also. He finished 4 minutes ahead of me last year but he had also done the running race. I descended the next hill a bit faster but he caught up to me on the next climb and set a perfect pace. Nothing was said, middle ring climb for a good 20 minutes, it was my turn to get on his wheel. We made it to the mini-check point at 8 hours. We had instant respect for each other. I had a managed a sub-nine smeark as a volunteer filled my bottle with water…I think I have it…9 hours that is. I continued the climb and then the descent down St. Keven’s. (during the awards I learned that there were several nasty accidents here, broken leg, broken collar bone, broken tail bone, concussion) Made it to the bottom and I latched onto another riders wheel, he got tired and I jumped up front for a long time. I slowed and pulled off a bit, 5 guys behind me and nobody jumped up to take a pull. I know we all had the goal of a sub nine hour finish and we were on the bubble…lets work together. Then Danny from Breckenridge caught the group, he smiled and said it’s my turn, sit in for bit. We exchanged several pulls, with the same guys on the back. When we hit the road, Danny yelled, “do any of you know what a pace line is?….come-on…let’s work together.” (On a side note... Mtn bikers are hilarious when they try to organize a pace line - taken from Fat Cyclist Blog comment) At that time a few guys tried, but I think they were cooked. After a while Danny and I looked at each other and we took off, two guys hung on and then only one.

We hit the Boulevard climb, 3 miles to go! Just Danny and I. Last year I was crushed by this section, little ring and walking. This year middle ring and 10-14 mph…Danny and I were hurt’n, yet cruising towards sub-nine. We hit the cement and crested the hill, saw the finish line and we smiled. We decided we would cross the finish line together. We slowed down a bit, nothing to worry about, 13 minutes to go til 9 hour cut off time. Then out of nowhere comes these guys sprinting passed us. I look at Danny, Danny looks at me. I told Danny, sorry, I can’t let this happen. I tossed the chain into the big ring, stood up and hammered down. I heard the announcer yell, “it looks like we have a race!” The crowd got excited as the finish line neared, then the competition folded, submitted, he had no more. I glanced back and shook my head. I could not believe this guy, after Danny and I pulled him to a sub-nine finish, but hey...thats racing, ain't it! I was looking forward to crossing the line with Danny. Connie came running up and exclaimed “that was awesome, you just gave him THE LOOK” (referring to the famous Lance Armstrong to Jan Ullrich look at the Tour de France) Danny pulled up next to me, three places behind me and shook his head. I was gasping for air after the sprint, but managed a sub-nine grin. We shook hands to a job well done and he invited me out to Breckenridge to show me his home town trails. No doubt…I’ll find a way to get there! (one a side note, the racer who passed us came up after the finish and thanked us for pulling him in, he said he had the speed coming down the hill and had to give it a try)

I took off my helmet and let it soak in. Ohio boy gets sub-nine! Goal accomplished! I caught my breath and looked for Danny. I forgot to get his contact info…he was gone! I asked Connie if this guy existed or was it an illusion. She smiled, he just left, you’ll see him at the awards. I looked over and saw Karen, Ken’s wife…I knew if she was there Ken was on the way. Would he break nine hours also? Sweet! She said he was 16 minutes behind me at the last check point. Way to go Ken! To be honest, I thought Ken would crush me this year. He set the tone for our training and helped push me through some very rough weeks. I knew when I was not training he was, so I would get up and go pound some pavement when I should have been catching up on some sleep. Ken also visited Mt. Mitchell twice this year to train for the Columbine climb, on the weekend of Landon’s birth non the less. I looked at my watch, “dang” I thought, he’s going to punish his finishing time of last year…right on! 33 minutes later we looked down the road, not sure who the rider was until I noticed the sure fire swagger of Ken’s pushed past the limits body language. He beat his last year time by over 1:38 minutes! His training and planning sure paid off this year! Way to go Ken!

The one thing that really hit home to me at this year Leadville 100 is there is always room for improvement and never underestimate or doubt yourself. Motivation comes from everywhere, find it. The top finisher and winner this year was three time Champion Dave Wiens, he is over 40 years old and finished in 7 hours, 17 minutes. I have room for improvement and years to do it. I’m contemplating a return for a shot at sub-eight one of these years. On the way home that night I was looking out the windows at the surrounding mountains and I had a vision. A tandem bike, my son Landon and I, gunning for a sub-nine finish. Time will tell.

Thanks again to my parents for coming out and crewing for the second straight year. Could not have done it without ya! Thanks again to my parents for watching baby Landon during the race and while I was training. Thanks to Tim, for the two weeks off work so I could acclimate to the altitude and thin air. Thanks Kellie for letting some of her RAAM knowledge help me with this small race. To Ken for the training, coordination, motivation and RV. The Rogue Mechanic for “dialing in” a sub-nine race bike and back up rig. Solon Bicycle - need a bike…ask for Dan. To our sponsors, Rock Shox, Avid, Rudy, Clear Choice, Hammer Nutrition! Most of all…thanks to my wife, who never doubted my ability to return to Leadville. It was a crazy and tough return, but our relationship has flourished and our bond is ever so greater due to the magic and mystery that surrounds this larger then life event. And to my chief motivator, my son, Landon, who smiled and laughed when we walked up to receive the gold buckle at the awards ceremony. I hope to cross the finish line with you one day, if you decide to guide yourself down this mysterious road called Leadville.

A few photos of the two weeks spent in Colorado. Conquering another 14er – Mt Lincoln and Cameron. Riding the Monarc Trail in Salida. Randy and I jumping off a mountain outside of Vail and soaring with the eagles.








Thursday, August 18, 2005

Leadville 100 Start - the video

Click here to view a video of the start of the LT100.

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LT100 Start

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LT100 Start

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

LEADVILLE 100 - take 2

Why?
The Ken Frankenbery LT100 Story

Well that seems to be the question everyone asks. After almost killing me last year, (and right after the race swearing I would never ever do this race again) why go back? A couple of reasons.

1. The Leadville 100 is the best supported-most organized race I have ever done. The town is 100% behind the race. From the time you get into town, to the time you leave-people are super. Last year while coming into town at the end of the race, (In a near death state), an older women cutting Her grass, stopped to cheer me on! - The Vibe for this race is awesome. The people who put it on are super. Plus the town and area are beautiful. From the old restored buildings downtown, to the gorgeous mountains and forest, it’s an outdoor persons dream. The more time I spend there, the more I fall in love with the town. That and a chance to spend 2 weeks in Colorado, where big factors

2. Even though I finished last year, after some reflection, I felt if I was better prepared, I could do much better. The whole race just left a bad taste in my mouth (and I don’t mean from getting sick and throwing up at mile 70) I just felt like my finish position (296 out of 750), or my time (11.02), was a reflection of what I was capable of .I wanted to leave Leadville knowing I gave it my best.

After talking with Kevin, he also had some unresolved issues. He finished in 9.45, and those familiar with the race know that of the 750 people who start the race, only a little over ½ finish. Those who do, get a Silver Belt buckle. But those few that can do it under 9 hours get a huge Gold Buckle. Kevin felt with what we learned last year, He wanted to go back and get a coveted Gold Buckle.

So it was on! The crew this year was Karen-Randy-Brenda & Kevin. Kevin’s family and Connie would drive out and meet us.

Prologue

Last year we spent two weeks getting used to the altitude in Colorado before the race, and besides having a great 2 week vacation, it seemed to help us adapt to the altitude (well as much as people who lives at Sea Level can adapt).

So this year we had the same plan, but try to visit a different part of Colorado-while working our way up in elevation...

We started in Colorado Springs- a neat town, but no Boulder (Boulder is one of my favorite spots- very bike friendly-clean –a must see place for bikers). We did a couple neat rides around Colorado Springs, best was a 15-mile loop around Rampart Reservoir just west of Colorado Springs, it was like riding on the buckeye trail (not that I would ever do that!), with great views.



A trip to the U.S. Olympic center, some cool hiking, exploring some old caves, a drive up to Pikes Peak and checking out the city made several days fly by.



Our next stop was at Cannon City, where we got a great view of the “Great Gorge”
After, we drove to Salida Colorado- a cool little town, kind of like Moab Utah. Some awesome rides in the area, but so many to choose from it was hard to pick just one. We ended up doing part of the Colorado trail, where it follows The Continental Divide trail. We had Karen drive us up to Monarch Pass- about 12 thousand feet, where we caught the trail, and rode it just past Marshall Pass, not far from Salida. It was some of the best single track I have ridden, with awesome views as you rode across the top of the continental divide. The trail would drop down, and every few miles duck in deep Aspen forests, rock gardens, this trail had it all.



Then after about 16 miles, we start descending. This stretch was non- stop rocks and jumps at 40 mph!

We fit in a couple great hikes, Mt Lincoln & Mt Elbert – 2- 14 thousand footers which are adjacent to each other (And a lesson that even on cloudy cool days at 14 thousand feet you need sun tan lotion! Ouch! The back of Kevin’s neck was glowing red) Karen and Brenda did a great job on the hike, soldering up to near 14 thousand!



I love the people in Colorado- very into the outdoor life style-in general most people you meet are super nice.

Interesting billboard in a shop in Salida

“At Least when Clinton Lied-Nobody Died!!”

Amen is all I will say to that.

It was hard to leave Salida- I defiantly want to stop back there, but it was time to head up to over 10,000 feet-Leadville!

Leadville

Cool town-lots of restored old homes and buildings. Neat restaurants, coffee shops and stores (if you ever go there go to Melanzana’s outdoor clothing store-they make there own clothing right in the shop). Then just 2 miles from Main Street, great forests, mountains and awesome views.

A couple days of short hikes, check out some local mines, take the Railroad tour, drive over to Aspen and of course ride parts of the racecourse each day. It was tough not to ride too much, but one lesson I learned last year, a race like Leadville demands you rest up for weeks in advance, you will need everything you have.

The weather leading up to the race was ugly. Rain everyday, cool temperatures (In the 30’s at night and some days not hitting much over 60) Anyone who has been out west knows when it rains, it not like when it rains in Ohio- storms come up fast, the temperature drops even faster. This is another factor in making Leadville so tough-last year race started at 630am it was 35 degree’s; by noon it was in the 80’s. In the past, people have been pulled off the course with hypothermia. I will never forget talking to Jim Olander (Who had been out to Leadville twice) before I went, and I asked Him what kind of gear I should bring for the race- His reply was fast and accurate- bring everything you got, cold weather gear, rain suits, cut off jersey’s sun tan lotion, lots of gloves (winter –and summer) and be ready you could use everything in one day!

The Race

The forecast looked cool and wet. But at 5am, it was a not so bad, 42-degree’s. We got there early to get a decent starting spot (it’s first come and people are there before 5am- the race starts at 630) Kevin wanted to get a spot up front; I went a few rows behind him.

The start was worse than normal. For anyone who has done large road races, you know how scary a tight pack of 100’s of riders can be. Well imagine 750 mountain bike racers, starting down hill in a pack, going down a curvy paved road, with several 90-degree turns. At 40 mph.

We did not go 500 yards before the first crash. I heard tires screech, and the sound of metal on the road just behind me, the first pile up. Another mile down the road and I see a bike flipping in the air, 2 guys had touched wheels and went down hard.

We hit the dirt, and the top 50 guys go at an all out sprint to get away from the crowd, Kevin is with them. I back off a hair, I want to be near the front, but do not want to spend all my quarters-this is a long race and I want to try to pace myself this year.

Things go well up first climb, down St Kevin’s, and threw Hagerman pass. We hit the top of The power line, and I am totally focused. This is the toughest downhill on the course. Ruts, rocks, on a downhill that’s over 5 miles straight down! I pick off several people, take some big time chances, but end up picking up several places and feel great. I hook up with a few people and we do a pace line to first check point. I hit it at 2.00, and this year, no stopping. Karen hands me a new water bottle, and I am off. I hook up with 3 guys and we work all the way to the next rest stop. I am feeling great, and way ahead of last year. I grab a camel back (it looks like rain, so I play it safe take a jacket & extra gloves), and am off to the toughest climb-Columbine- 3000 feet of climbing. It’s just as brutal as last year, and I go back in forth thinking I feel 100% better than last year, to thinking why the heck am I doing this? If my job were this hard I would have quit years ago. A few guys pass me, but I am doing well. Just a ¼ mile from the summit, Kevin pass’s me going down. I feel great, counting the riders going down, I know he is in top 60, and I am not far behind. At the top I am in 107 place, more important right on my goal time of 4.50 and unlike most others I do not stop. There are storm clouds, its 25-degree’s colder, no oxygen (its almost 13,000 feet at the top), and all I want to do is get down. As I start down (the top is super rocky and steep), I look at my watch and think this is it- if I am going to do well; I need to take some chances. I let it rip, and start picking off riders left and right. I know I am on the edge, but keep it going. When I get to the bottom, a few guys get me back on the flats over to check point 3, but I pick up several places from the summit-worth the risks! I ride alone, and hit check point 3 at 6.24, over 45 minute’s better than last year, and 20 minutes ahead of my goal time. I just grab a bottle, look back and rain clouds are coming! I am at checkpoint 4 at 6.24, almost an hour ahead of last year. Karen tells me Kevin is 16 minutes ahead, and looking good- I am happy, I have no illusion of beating him, (Just His time He set last year), I want to see Him get the Gold!

At mile 80, we hit the power line. What was a killer downhill is now a hike a bike straight up for 5 miles! I make it, and at the top lightning strikes off in the distance, and thunder booms threw the valley’s- this is not looking good! I look at time, 12 miles to go, and one more big climb up the Hagerman pass- I am starting to hurt bad, but keep a good pace going, maybe 2 people pass me. I hit the top of St Kevin’s and still no rain, I again take some big chances on the downhill, pass 2-3 guys and hit the bottom with only 5 miles to go. I am at 8 hours 50 minutes, and it hits me, I am not going to make 9 hours, but darn close- I realize now that I will beat my goal (9hours 45 minutes), and I start to get kind of emotional. That’s one of the things that’s hard to explain to people about races like this. You go threw the gamete on emotions. There were times going up the power line climb, where I was pushing my bike for miles, I just wanted to pull over and curl in a ball and lay there. There were times flying down the hills, passing people, I felt a high no drug could ever produce-I felt like super man. Then there’s the other riders-you push side by side with people, both suffering in silence, maybe a word here or there, and you suddenly feel a bond with people you don’t even know. A sense of being part of something that’s bigger than you. You notice the smallest details, yet at times you’re so focused on the job at hand you don’t notice the obvious. It’s something you carry with you for years- I remember driving my car down the freeway, months after last years race, and getting a flashback about the race- it’s something that you just can’t explain, but it carries into every aspect of your life. I can think of several times, things getting tough, and I would think, compared to the pain and agony I suffered at Leadville-this is nothing. Sounds corny I know, but when you talk to people who have done the race, they say the same thing.



I am pushing it for all I have now, but the guys I passed on downhill get me, plus a couple others. The clouds let out a couple drizzle’s, but for some reason it is not raining, its raining a; around us, but not on us- I can see the rain as I start the uphill into town, and at 102 miles (the actual mileage to the race is 103.5), I start to come unglued. The hill into town is not that big, but I am in the little chain ring, weaving bad, back and forth just to keep moving forward. I am starting to see black spots. I have to stand and pedal to make the last grade, and it takes everything out of me. As I cross the finish line, Karen is there- She starts to take my bike, and the next thing I know, I am on the ground with people around me yelling to not try to get up (Get up, Hell I don’t even know where I am or who I am!!). I fade in and out, and next thing I recall Kevin’s dad is caring me off the road to sit out of the way. When I crossed the line, I blacked out, I hit pretty hard (road rash on my side, knot on my knee), I can’t believe I make 100+ miles of pure hell without a scratch, then get hurt at the finish line in front of hundreds of people!

As I start to come around, I see Kevin, and know by the look on His face, He made it under 9 hours-I ask, He nods, great job, He is one of the top “ Non Colorado” riders in the race and gets the Gold!! I was in at 9.21.

We pick up our awards on Sunday; an awesome awards presentation, with some great stories from the race.

Epilogue

Kevin made His goal, and with a new family (He and His new Son Landon went together to get His awards it was great!), He most likely will not be back to Leadville for a few years (Plans to win the tandem title as a father son duo are in the works)

For me, I feel like I am leaving Leadville having met my goal, I posted a time I am proud of and if I never go back, I will feel like I had a life experience many never get to do.

But, there is that matter of the Gold Belt Buckle?????

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

12 Hour Solo Race - Vulture's Knob Witches Brew Endurance Race Series



The thunder rumbled in the near distance, the taste and feel of the air was beginning to transform, my lungs sensed the change. The race was going to undergo a drastic change, pedal hard, ride smart and go fast. I was feeling scary strong; this could not last all 12 hours, could it? The rhythm and flow was right on, a picture perfect start. The trail, oh the sweet trail was beyond mint, near perfect!

2 ½ hours prior, the race started with the sound of the famous VKnob “quack” duck call. We racers ran a short loop to spread out the pack, before grabbing our bikes for the 12 hour Vulture's Knob mountain bike race series titled "Witches Brew". I remembered last years run in which I went out slow, trying to pace myself and fell behind a few less experienced riders on the first lap. One of whom took a nasty dive in the rock tunnel taking me and several other riders down. That was not happening this year, as I was third in the run to the bikes and we were off. Once on the bike, I could not wipe the grin off my face. The trail was perfect, and fast. Mike Walewski got out in front and set the solo pace, wicked fast. I knew I was outside my zones, but what the heck, this was a training race, a time to experiment. Let’s see what breaks me.


rock tunnel

It was a full course green light, lower Killbuck, all hills, everything, just as it should be. I actually could not believe they added the lower Killbuck section, the 1/4 mile of log bridges we’re out, (apparently beaver had dam’d up that part of the course?) but the old trail next to the river was brought back to life. Why my disbelief, because there was a 50% forecast of rain, and that whole section gets heavy with water. But, wow was it flowing good…nice, dry and fast. If the rain holds off, race director Mark is the hero. If it rains…this will be the section designed by some sicko who watches and enjoys needless suffering.


elevated bridges in the swamp of lower Killbuck

The first laps went well (9ish mile laps) and were fast indeed for a 12 hour pace… 1) 51.ish 2) 51.05. (to my crew tent) Then on the end of the 3rd lap the skies opened up. I was near the over/under rock bridge and had to drop my glasses because the day became the night. The temperature dropped 10-15 degrees and the wind whooped up. The deep thunder roared all around the course, then we heard the rain hit the canopy of trees overhead. The trees held off the inevitable drenching for a few minutes, then the wetness broke through. I made it back in 55.30 + pit stop. The course was getting slick. I was chilled, grabbed a jacket, some more rocket fuel and I was off. Still feeling good, I was convincing myself to look forward to rain as an experiment in what to wear, and how to ride for this years under 9 hour attempt at the Leadville 100. This race was setting up to be the perfect experiment in equipment, clothing, nutrition and mental attitude. The 4th lap held a slight adaptation curve. The course was getting glossy. Not thinking much, I approached the infamous “cradle”, (off camber, rooted approach that shoots you like a cannon directly down a gully and into a u-shaped bridge that hugs the lower gully and looks like a cradle) I cleared all the roots in the typical approach, made the turn then slammed into the hillside as my front tire washed out on the wet, slick hard pack. It was slow motion, like a turtle flipped upside down spinning uncontrolled, I slid down the hillside. Nothing to grab onto, the water, my bike and my body slithered in the mud until a tree broke our fall and prevented us from dropping further into the gully. I jumped up, my gloves, covered in mud untwisted my handlebars from the frame, I surveyed the damage and I was on. Up the climb to the next downhill, when I went to grab my rear brake, the level pulled all the way to bar…nothing, well maybe a little something, but I could not tell. The next 8 miles were fun, to say the least. Lower Killbuck immediately turned into the famous mix of heavy, slick, nasty, slow going, peanut butter muck that is typical of river banks.



From here on, it was tough to figure out what was going down, everyone was so spread out. I got back to tent, spent a lot of time clearing the muck off the bike so I could get at my brakes. Finally, made every adjustment possible to no avail. I thought about switching bikes, but opted to destroy only one. I jumped back on the bike, and somehow all systems were go, the brakes worked themselves out. The lap times moved down to 1:10 – 1:15ish + pit stops. My confidence was gone in the cradle, though. As each lap I talk myself into riding it. Then bailing out each and every time as visions of my bloodied/muddied knee would enter my weak and simple mind. I opt’d to run down the hill instead, eating up time and my ego, but it was the safe thing to do…right? (“freak’n wimp” I screamed at myself) The sun would come and go, the clouds would pass, leaving a few drops here and there until the daylight was laid to rest.


one of many hollowed out 1/2 log bridges

There is something about riding at night that I truly enjoy. Everything changes as the night divides the day. I kept my lights off as long as possible and finally flipped the switch on the road to the upper section. When I started the climb out of valley I heard the strangest sound. My mind was a bit sappy but it sounded off again. It was the oddest sound, but it was strangely comforting. It seemed as if it was trying to tell us something. Was he welcoming us into his house or warning us of pending danger. A few minutes later, the same noise, only louder. It seemed to be an owl with a good set of Vulture's Knob lungs, or race director, Mark, was hiding in the woods with one of his duck calls gone lame. I rode most of the night laps alone, looking around you can see other racer’s lights, but we never crossed paths. It was very unusual, yet very serene. I looked forward to hearing the hoots and howlers of the nocturnal creature as I entered its house during each night lap. I felt at home.


rainbow bridge

I ended my 9th lap and sat at the tent with my crew pondering another lap at the 11th hour. I had a quarter tank left, but did not want to endure the Killbuck muck. I was sitting in second place, a lap ahead of the third place rider. That’s when the first place solo rider, Mike, passed me and I decided to check in at the scorer’s tent to see what was happening. While we were there, the third place solo rider checked in also. We all looked at each other and decided to hang it up, the race was well laid out and it was to nobody’s advantage to go out and risk another lap.

Well, to the true VKnob spirit, I must say the giant witch’s brew kettle was stirred a little strong, but it was tasty none the less. A job well done.

Thanks yet again to my fantastic crew – my Dad, who persevered the nasty weather and kept me going each and every lap. And to my wife Connie, who kept our two month old occupied during the day and came to the race to offer up much needed night time support and encouragement. Just her showing up in the late hours gave me another ounce of energy to keep going. My mother - who watched Landon during the night time laps from the comfort of her home. A job well done to the Miranda’s and volunteers who kept the scorer’s table enjoyable each and every lap.


12 hours (turned 11 hours) of VKnob Witch’s Brew Endurance Series 2005 Race #1

1) Mike Walewski – 10 Laps
2) Kevin Daum – 9 laps
3) Darin Evans - 8 Laps
4-10) unknown

vulturesknob - course website

www.kaslanphoto.com - more photos

Thanks for reading - Kevin Daum

Monday, May 09, 2005

Valley Circuit Spring Training Series Race #5.

Weather was cool, yet refreshing. A good turnout of cat 3, 4, & 5 totaling 40+ racers in the "B" class. Snakebite, Orrville, Summit Freewheelers, Stark Velo and more. Ross, Steve, Jason and I entered for a little spring race training. Since this was the last race of the series an extra lap was added making for a 6 lap, 30 mile fast paced ride. (23mph avg) I think this was the first race in this series for all of us? Mad man Ross found out he needs a major road bike tune up as he pulled off the front on the first lap to fix a loose skewer, twice. Steve and I witnessed several solo attacks that were short lived due to the windy front mother nature presented. You'd think we'd watch, observe and learn, but for some strange reason Steve and I still wanted to have a little fun and try a break. Steve lead out on lap 4 and I jumped on. Nobody followed us into the wind as we had a short gap on the group. The plan was not having a plan, neither of us have much road racing knowledge. Looking back, I don't know why we did not work this together, instead, he lead me out and I tried to take off. I got off the front a bit, about half a lap later I broke as I battled the wind by myself. I slowly sat up, grabbed my water bottle and waited for the main field. I sat in and recovered a bit while Steve jumped up front and did alot of the work alternating with a few guys. The sprint to the finish was typical, Brett Davis from Snakebite took off early to stretch the pack out which greatly increased our safety. A bunch of his teammates jumped to the front and lead the charge, very well done I must admit. Then as the burn tore into our legs the sprinters danced the width of the road in a chaotic mass finish.... I tried to figure where we finished...we're guessing 9th for Steve and 6th for myself? Matt Turi took the gold on this day.

- KDaum