It all started with an invitation to participate in a annual Mountain Biking weekend in Colorado in 2006. Before that I hadn’t been on a mountain bike since 1993, when Joanne and I, Ohio residents for 2 days, loaded our mountain bikes on the roof of the Subaru Outback and headed west for eight weeks of camping and mountain biking. At the time of the 2006 trip, I was still riding the same mountain bike, one of the original Specialized Stumpjumpers from the late 80’s — a hard tail, no shock, 35 pound monster of a machine. Mostly I used it to haul the kids in the Burley. I opted not to take this embarrassment on the trip to Colorado. Instead, I demoed a state of the art full suspension free-ride bike with a confidence inducing 6 inches of suspension travel. It would go over Ayres Rock in one bound without bottoming out. Mountain biking surely had changed since my last exposure in 1993.
Having just finished Ironman Wisconsin, I was looking for a new challenge. My family wasn’t quite ready to be subjected again to the rigors of Ironman training right away. For years, our Coloradan friends Chris and Sheryl had been telling us about a daunting mountain bike race that they did each year called the Leadville 100. Around that time, local bike mechanic extraordinaire John Satory also began regaling me with stories of the Leadville 100. He told me how exhilarating his three Leadville finishes had been. (He neglected to tell me that he had participated 5 times. The first time he ended up in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism from the altitude and the second time after watching a fellow rider get hit by lightning on the course, he missed the time cutooff at the final aid station.) During a slightly inebriated dinner with my old friend and fellow adventurer, Kevin Czinger, I learned that Lance Armstrong was expected to compete in the 2007 Leadville 100. We decided if it was good enough for Lance, it was good enough for us. Kevin and I both applied for the lottery to get into the 2007 Leadville 100, but in early February we were disappointed to learn that we did not get in. Lance didn’t race Leadville in 2007 either.
During our 2007 annual Mountain Bike Excursion to Colorado, I decided to buy a mountain bike so I would be prepared if I was ever successful getting into Leadville. Naturally, when 2008 rolled around, I applied for the Leadville lottery again. This time I enticed several other Ohioans to join me in the entry process. Fellow Ironman Kevan Millstein was so taken by the Silver Buckle awarded to Leadville finishers, that he decided rather than counting on the luck of the lottery draw, he would sponsor the race and gain entry in a more certain fashion. In early February, I got the good news that I had won the lottery and the training began. I learned that there WERE mountain bike trails in Ohio – one anyway. This webblog is the story of my now two three year old quest for Leadville Silver.
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