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Experience Vs Ignorance | Can You Ride 100 Miles Blind? | GMBN Races The Leadville 100

October 24, 2019


(fire crackles) (owl hoots) (wood creaks) – I’m here in Leadville,
Colorado to find out can a novice mountain bike marathon racer take part in one of the world’s toughest mountain bike marathon
races: the Leadville 100. (energetic music) (cow bell clangs) – [Chris] To make the
race even more interesting I’m going up against the experience of two-time Leadville veteran
Walter Summers who knows all the ups, downs, twists
and turns of the course. Walter is also a Garmin test rider. So how am I supposed to measure up against Walter’s experience? Well, I’ve teamed up with Garmin and they’ve kitted me out
with their new Edge 830 unit which is going to help
coach me through the epic. I can use the climb pro
future to educate me on the gradients and climbs ahead, I can even set food and
hydration notifications to ensure I stay on top
of my fuelling too. All I have to do is follow
the course and pedal and let the Garmin worry
about the finer details. That’s the plan anyway. But why me? Well, for years I grew up
riding and racing on the road hearing about all these
great mountain bike events that I wanted to take part in, but because I had a busy
training and racing schedule to stick to, it meant I
could only read about them in magazines and on the internet. One of the big events
that sticks out in my mind is the Leadville 100, a 105 mile mountain bike marathon
event across Colorado. Now in it’s 26th year
I finally get my chance to have my first go at a
mountain bike marathon event. And I’m not going to lie, when Blake and Neil
asked if I was interested I could not have said yes fast enough. – I mean everybody’s heard
about the Leadville Trail 100 it’s you know, the world’s
most iconic mountain bike race. – Leadville is grit,
guts and determination. – You can’t help but lift
your head up and look around because it really is
stunning terrain you get to ride your bike through. – There’s very little that’s
not either up or down. – I entered Leadville in the first place because I was curious what
all the hype was about why all these people
were coming to this race in you know this tiny weeny mountain town in the middle of Colorado. – Registration limit’s about 1,800 couple hundred or so will get cold feet and chicken out before the starting line. Tank’s empty, you got to dig deep you got to do exactly what the Leadville miners did
150 years ago: dig deep. (energetic music) – [Chris] Garmin didn’t
want to let me walk away with the bragging rights without them putting up a decent fight. But unlike me, Walter didn’t come alone. He came armed with his riding buddies from Garmin HQ in Kansas
City: Jordan and Andrew. The first few miles are actually on tarmac and it’s onto the first section of dirt where the route starts to get
narrow and starts to climb. The course really starts to get hard at the bottom of Columbine. Up to then it had been tough, but not an hour and 25 minutes
at an average gradient of 8%. The return leg of the event is surprisingly much
harder than the way out. Some say the race doesn’t start until the top of the mountain. The toughest part of the entire event is Power Lines on the return. Pitches of up to nearly
40% on the lower slopes total of just over 5 km
uphill at 7% average gradient. From here to the finish, you
can really find your groove and push hard to make
up a little bit of time. The route doesn’t ease off until you climb the final grade into
Leadville and cross the line. A total of 105 miles,
4000 meters of climbing and all run off at over
2,800 meters of elevation. Now I could stand here
and tell you all about the Leadville 100 but I’ve
never ridden it before so we thought it was a better idea to chat to the founder and
one of the most famous names from the race’s history. – There’s very little that’s
not either up or down. – It’s the headwaters
of the Arkansas River so we’re right between where two mountain ranges come together. Sawatch Range to the west,
Mosquito Range to the east and Leadville just sits right
up there in that high valley. – There are a lot of things that are special about Leadville. 1) The elevation puts you above tree line in such amazing terrain, breathtaking. The other thing is it really is a huge gathering of the cycling tribe. You know, I’ve never
done a mountain bike race with thousands of people, all on the same course, all just wanting to be outside and ride their hearts out. So for me the first year it
really felt like kind of like the Tour de France of mountain biking. It was crazy, like screaming fans and you never see that
in mountain bike race. You’re usually alone. Just this small town vibe of hospitality and the locals welcoming you and everybody just really appreciating the mountains and the beauty of this place but the people are really special too. – I was an underground shift
boss at the Climax mine great job, God I loved that job. Went to work one swing shift got all the gear on,
ready to go underground and the mine boss called and said “Come on up, we’re going
to have a meeting.” Went up to the mine office and he said “We’re closing the mine. Go back, tell your crews to go home. Their unions will be in
contact with them tomorrow and we’ll be in contact
with you. It’s over.” Overnight we became the highest
unemployment in the nation. – It’s our family. The athletes that come here
are part of our family. – When we started out, it was– and this was from day one– because our community was hurting so bad was all about what we could
give, not what we could get. And we’ve maintained that all these years. We still do that. Because it’s grown so much, it gives us the opportunity to give more. – One of the stand out features of the Leadville 100 is the altitude. It starts at 2,800 meters
and goes up to 3,800. Where we live in the west of England it’s not anything like that. We’re basically at sea level, so we’re going to go out
for a couple of hours gently on the bikes to get used to
the altitude a little bit. Ideally you’d have done
this three weeks ago, but you know, what can you do? (lively techno music) – We had a real blast up on the mountain side of Breckenridge. A few final tweaks to the bike and a couple of tough efforts to get ready for the race tomorrow. Right, we’re driving to
the start at the moment. It’s about 25 minutes
away from where we stayed. There’s a little bit more
traffic today then there has been but we’ve got the world’s biggest vehicle a big Suburban, so we can just
push people out of the way. Don’t think we’re going to have
any issues getting into town This is Leadville,
starting line in Leadville. Not the start line, 100 meters
away from the start line. Fill up my pockets with all of my food. Make sure I’ve got everything else I need. Try and find somewhere
to have a little wee, alley way type thing. And just make sure I’ve got everything. Try to get to the start line
on time. That’s most important. This will be the most people
I’ve ever lined up in one go. Normally in a bike race you get 200 guys and there’s what? 2,000 people here today? So ten times as big, except it’s not just ten times as big it’s hundreds times as big. Like, it’s the biggest, most well known epic mountain bike cross
country race there is. – No sign of Chris. We think he chickened out. – Yeah, might be a no show. – He might be, he
could’ve been too scared. Entirely possible. – Yeah, we think Mr.
Opie is chickening out. We’re all looking for
him, but we don’t see him. – Right, this is it, we’re going. We are actually going to go. All right, record some carnage. Have fun. – Off the start, it’s
kind of nerve racking. 1,700 plus riders descending and trying to fight for position. We talked about that early on and we pretty much concluded
that all of the descents should be played pretty safely. And that goes for the beginning too. You know, there’s no worse place to crash then the beginning of a bike race, especially when you’re bobbing down hill with 500 riders behind you. – I’m overtaking 700 people, 800 people– (mumbles) and I’m quite
pleased with that– probably before we got to
the first gravel sector most of them, because I was in my element. It was like being a road
rider but on a mountain bike. Big bars to fit through these
tiny gaps, quite enjoyed that. It was a little challenge. – The three of us being out
there was really really nice. That was kind of a really fun, like we mentioned before,
Jordan’s a pretty fast roadie and whenever we’d hit a
big, hard, flat road section we were like “everyone
forgot to bring their Jordan out with them” you know,
because he’d just get in the front an rip it for us. (exhilarating music) So for the first two hours I chased pretty hard to find
Walter, Andrew and Jordan and I just got to the
point where I was like “I feel like I should
have caught them now.” This is my ego from bygone years, but I just felt like I’d
ridden really quite hard for those two hours and I
needed to ease off a little bit. I’d kind of started to notice that I was finding it
harder than I was expecting. So from there on in, it got really hard. The Power Lines descent was probably, apart from the guy that switched me and tried to cross in front of me and then got upset with me, it was the best descent of the day. Just purely because it was 80–what 82.8 km an hour I did down there. Bearing in mind, you’re
on like marbly gravel, it’s average 12% but the
pitches are like 27% or more, and if you squeeze your brakes you’re just going to lock up your tires. And there’s all these
little kickers as well. So you actually get a bit of air. That was the highlight of the day. (funky music) So actually something that
really got me through the day was the little feature
that I use on the Garmin and that was telling me how
far I was to the next climb, how long the next climb
was, what the gradient was. The only thing it didn’t tell me was what the surface was made of. So I think everyone before the event had kind of made it sound
like it was quite gentle and you know, just gravel,
but it was not gravel. They were just rocky and
root-y and it was rugged. – It didn’t get terribly dark. I think riding with my buddies
was a big part of that. Honestly, probably the
darkest part of it is like, when I’m sitting behind their wheels and I’m like pinning it right now to just sit behind
Andrew, sit behind Jordan. I was like “These guys are so strong.” So that was probably,
honestly, the hardest part. Then I’d get my second wind and be like, “Now it’s time for me to do some work.” No, it never went super, super dark. Honestly, it was just
like we’d be riding uphill and you’d turn and it was just like a wall and you’re just like “Ugh.” So it was very temporary darkness. Then you’d get up and over and get back on your bike and keep going. So I’d say it was a little
gray out for most of the day. – The worse part of my day, it
was it was Columbine Mountain That was where I really started to struggle with the altitude. Somewhere between 3,000-3,200 I realized that that was my limit and everything higher than
that, I was in a dark place. Didn’t think I’d get off and walk to be honest. Feels good though. Right now anything but
pedalling feels good. I’m getting passed by a lot of guys again. Don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say, I’m suffering more than ever. It’s just, I underestimated it massively. So I’m nowhere near my
goal of seven hours, but turns out that was
probably a bit stupid anyway. I am near eight hours. I was in a really dark place
until some friendly competitor came over and said “Look, it’s only the altitude
that’s making you suffer. As soon as you get back
down, you’ll feel better.” Your thoughts run wild, you feel dizzy, you can barely see anything. Glasses on, glasses off, doesn’t matter. There’s no oxygen in your brain. A lot of guys were cheering everyone on. Quite a few people do
recognize the jersey, which considering you
guys don’t wear lycra on the channel very often, it was quite cool to hear that. And I had the worst arm pump of my life. So, I was behind someone
that wasn’t that fast on Columbine, on the descent, which means you’re riding
the brakes the entire time. Obviously 34 PSI in the tires and the shocks are pumped up pretty hard. My hands were claws and eventually I said, “Can I just go by?” And as soon as you let off the brakes, it all disappears then because you’re not trying to squeeze
and slow yourself down. (funky music) (cow bells clang) – We had to–we bit off
a little bit at Pipeline our SAG crew was not there,
or we couldn’t find them, so we all went into that last three hours with one water bottle
and, you know, more sugar. We all had some savory stuff packed away we were pretty excited about And not having that was kind of a bummer. So trying to get around the fact that we only had that one water bottle for that last long section
was kind of a hiccup, then we got over it. – I think Power Line
was the hardest climb. I think Power Line is the
hardest climb on earth, actually. – I remember, as we were
approaching Power Line, thinking, “Feeling pretty tired right now.” – Until you see it, you don’t
realize just how steep it is and how unrelenting it is. – So we all took a jab at it, and watched Jordan ride away from us. I think I made it about
7/10ths of the climb. I looked back to see if Andrew
was behind me, which he was, but it was enough for me to
slide out my front wheel, and we had to hike the last bit of it. It was so hard. – Suffering like I’ve never suffered. It’s just how it is. (labored music) – I was ecstatic that I
made the nine hour cutoff. It was so exhilarating to come in and know I made it by just that much. And the whole crowd is there, everyone is cheering for ya. They said my name over the loud speaker “Jordan Miller from Garmin” It was surreal. Those final 10Ks were just all out. That was me in my zone, that was like riding a road race, you’re in a break or riding a time trial. I got aero, I went fast, and I crushed it. And I came in just like
that much to spare too. It was a special moment. – I did have a little sprint at the end, because when you ride to the
finish with another rider, you can just, well for a start
you can hear gear changes but then also the tempo rises. Everyone wants to finish
looking strong, right? Because that’s where
the people are watching. And you can just tell
what was going to happen it’s one of those things, you
get dropped in a bike race, and everyone just pedals
a little bit harder to get over the finish to make it look to their team managers that they haven’t just
sat up and cruised in. Stupid, really, like it means nothing. But this did mean something
because it was a proper sprint. That was quite good fun. Hardest bike race. Hardest bike ride. Hardest thing I’ve ever done on a bike. – [Crew Member] Coming back
next year, support team? – I’d like to recover first,
before I make a bold statement. I think it’d be really cool to come back and see if you can put
everything you’ve learned this week into practice. That would be cool. And the result on who
was actually fastest, the Leadville novice or the veteran? Walter finished the race in nine hours, seven minutes and one second And I, I’m pleased to say, did it in eight hours, 14
minutes and 12 seconds. About 53 minutes faster. But the most important thing
is that I was sub-nine hours which means I got one of these
big, shiny finisher belts. So it’s the morning after Leadville. After a night’s sleep, I woke feeling pretty
battered to be honest. But we’ve made it back
to the start town because the day after the event they give out belt buckles
to all the finishers. If you finish under nine hours, you get a big one, and you can see Walter, Jordan and Andrew
have all got theirs. It’s now my turn to go
inside and find mine. (quirky music) (indistinct voice through microphone) (applause) – We’re in a massive cue, it’s a bit like lining
up yesterday morning, to get the belt buckles. – That’s for– – Sweet! Thank you very much. Cheers! Got new toys. So, I made it out of the hall where I got my finisher’s jacket with my old nickname Speedy
Opie printed on there and my finishing time. But, more importantly, something that’s going to look
pretty cool in the dirt shed, hopefully, assuming they
let me put it in there. It’s my finisher’s buckle. Look at the size of that thing! See, you get the big one if
you finish under nine hours, and I managed it.

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