Dirty Kitten Racing Elite Team Rider, Ivy Pedersen, raced the 2023 Leadville Trail 100 MTB (part of the Lifetime Leadville Race Series) last weekend.
The Leadville 100 was actually really fun. I say actually because I have never thought that an out-and-back format mountain bike race with only one mile of single track and lots of very long, very steep climbs sounded like a good time, but I was wrong...
The beginning of the race was kind of a blur: There was a long descent, some rolling sections, and then at mile 6, the first major climb called St. Kevin's. I rode my pace and passed and got passed continually. The descent from there was mostly pavement, and I think I hit my max speed for the day there at 46 mph, WEEEEEEEE!
Next up was the Powerline Climb, which was mostly a smooth dirt road until it became a very rocky double track. The views on this climb were so pretty and I was so happy being in the high mountains. The Powerline descent was steep and the dirt was in perfect condition so it was a total hoot. I took a lot of less than ideal lines through the rocks and water ruts in order to pass riders, and thankfully my bike cooperated nicely.
The next 20 miles were rolling/flat and I was surprised how quickly they passed. That one mile of single track was in this section; it was a really fun and really flowy mile. I met a lot of friendly riders throughout the day and everyone was encouraging. There were also so many people out on course cheering on all the racers. It was really motivating and nice.
At mile 41, I stopped at the Twin Lakes aid station to grab my jacket because it had been raining off and on all day. The biggest climb of the day was coming up: Columbine. Columbine is 10 miles long and climbs 3,800ft, topping out at 12,500ft elevation. I was pretty scared heading into it, but it was just a nice mountain road until the last few miles where it turns into a "goat trail." The goat trail is super steep, super rocky, super loose, oh and there is two way traffic for most of it. You basically can't breathe, can't pass, can't pedal over 50 rpm and can't see the top until the very end. But at the end, you are rewarded with a ripping 10 mile downhill! The two way race traffic was awesome too because I got to see how the front of the race was playing out.
Then it was back to the aid station for a quick bottle swap, 20 miles of rolling again, and back to the base of the Powerline climb. That really steep, really fun downhill was not quite as fun in the other direction. However, there were spectators lining the steepest sections, heckling, and giving pushes to riders, which made it a lot more pleasant.
The last mile or two it started pouring rain and my hands and arms went numb from the cold. I just wanted to get to the top so badly, and I knew that once I started descending in elevation it would warm up. So I rode steady, crested the climb, and basically went as hard as I could all of the way to the finish. There was still plenty of climbing and the last two miles were totally uphill.
The big goal with Leadville is to get a finisher's belt buckle. If you finish under 12 hours, you get a small belt buckle, and if you finish under 9 hours, you get a big belt buckle. My finishing time was 8:57:30, so I just barely made it (Big Belt Buckle)!
I'm really thankful for the experience and for a great race crew and team! - Ivy P
Photo Credit: @Swensonian_instatoot (Brian)