The Silver Rush 50…Strike it Rich in Boomtown!

“Hey Dad, where does this thing start?”

One of us had a doughnut for breakfast 

The Silver Rush 50 started at 9 and I left the coffee shop about 8:25. I had thought the night before about maybe trying to get to the race earlier but then realized that I didn’t want to stand around for 30 minutes with people who would tell me how much training they’ve done so stopped for coffee instead. One thing I did not calculate though was where the race started. I just knew that the town wasn’t that big and it went in the opposite direction of the 100 so it shouldn’t be that hard. Luckily my dad had woken up before me (I stayed in Leadville) drove up from Denver and still beat me there. Which was good because he could give me directions. 

I ended up being ready and headed for the start at about 8:47 and this was with a lot of dawdling. I left my dad at the top of the hill and headed to the bottom. I snuck into the side between a parked car and a trailer so was actually only about 2 rows back from the front. 8:52, really?!?! Maybe I should warm up, right, that’s what people do at these things. I left my bike and jogged over to the side and then did a few sprints half way up the hill. Ah, that’s good enough I got 50 miles to warm up. The race begins with a mass start up a hill that people sprint up (carrying their bikes) and then start riding. The guy I’ve been dating (like how I tried to sneak that one in, yah so did my parents and brother) is pretty well

versed in all things bikes and racing so he told me to wait to get on, to keep walking even when others start to mount up. It’s just a casual training ride with 800 other people, think of it this way, if you crash someone is going to know what happened. Then the gun went off, and I mean gun like in shotgun…welcome to Boom Town! I got to the top, said hi to my dad and kept walking. The guy I’m seeing was right most people had to dismount again because of the giant cluster it became. I just cruised passed them and then mounted up. Mentally I had been preparing for the first 10 miles to have an insane amount of climbing. I was delighted to find that it was a climb but nothing like what I had envisioned. I ducked behind another girl and followed her up for most of it. I thought about passing her a few times but the pace was pretty comfortable and I wanted to ride conservatively for the most part. At the 10 mile mark you turn onto a gravel rode and start descending. That pulls you into the first aid station which is littered with people starting about a mile out. The nice thing about being a girl is that there aren’t too many of us so people would get excited when they saw me and  cheer, “GO Lady!,” “Hey! That’s a girl! Go Girl!” or my all time favorite, “You Go Girl!” I didn’t stop at the station because I had quiet a bit of resources left and didn’t want to kill my momentum.You descend down some more and then start a climb back up to 12,000 feet. It’s a nice little climb up with breath taking views and plenty of guys peeing on the side of the trail to interrupt those views (guess that’s one advantage for them) and then you descend again. This descent reminded me a lot of Powerline (in the 100), with how rutted out it was in some places and how you really had to be careful to watch the lines you were taking and what the person in front of you was doing. It only lasted about 2 miles though. It was here that I saw the first place guy going back up. Holy hotness batman, that put them about 8 miles in front of me. I was about 2 miles out from the turn around and started to see massive amount of people when IT happened. I was funneling into a double track section (off of a fire road) when I hear the most disturbing noise. Brakes? Nope, they’re still working. Uh, someone else’s bike (please)? Nope. Shit! It’s my tire. It was losing air and fast. I must have punctured it somehow. Since I was running tubeless I got off and checked it over, somehow I had the smallest hole ever in the rear tire. I spun it around hoping to have the sealant take. Maybe, it stopped making noise so I hopped back on to continue riding. Ha, good joke, it didn’t take. There are enough guys around, do I unzip my jersey now?!? I thought about it but then flipped my bike over took the wheel off completely and spun it some more, threw up a Hail Mary and shot some air into it. It seemed to take. Just get to the aid station they probably have a pump to check it with. The tire held and got me the next two miles. I rolled into the aid station just under the 3 hour mark, a little faster than I thought I was going to be. I asked for a pump and filled my water and took some bananas. Sent off a quick text to my dad to tell him I was half way and then went to the bathroom because I can’t exactly pull off to the side of the trail. They didn’t have a pump. Okay just ride it until you have to change it. I did ride pretty conservatively though, almost like riding on egg shells because I didn’t want to have to change it. Fortunately the section that was pretty gnarly to get down was even worse to get up. It was one of those if you could

Oh yah….

ride it the people in front of you couldn’t and didn’t realize you were behind them in time to move out so then you had to pull off and start walking and there was never really a good section to start up again, so I kept walking. I was in a line of guys and thought about suggesting playing the one sentence game but everyone seemed to be breathing heavy. Don’t these guys know the ride is at 10,000 feet? Why are they not sleeping in oxygen chambers? So I stayed mum. It took a good while to get to the top, so much so that I was worried I wouldn’t make the 8 hour cut off. At the top I put some more air in my tire and then started the descent down. Which was pretty uneventful but anytime I would see someone watching I would ask, “Um, excuse me do you have pump?” and was past them before I could warrant a response.

There are two poems that I have for some reason or another carried with me through out my life: The Highwayman and The Little Orphan Annie. The first was one that my grandmother would to recite to me often when I was child and the latter I had to memorize in the 5th

grade (Thanks Mrs. Stokes!). The only time I really seem to feel the need to recite them though is when I’m riding my bike, specifically when I’m climbing. It helps to have the rhythm of the poem to get into a flow, I’m not fast but when you get into a harmony, two verses seated one verse standing it can be almost mosaic. I do add some of my own endings to the verses. For instance “And the highwayman came riding- riding-riding, just keep riding-riding-riding” or “and the goblins will get you if you don’t keep climbing” which can also be switched out for drinking to help stay hydrated. Switching back between the two got me through the climb, it’s not super steep but rather tedious. At mile 37 you begin your final descent, there are still some uphills but it’s nothing like before. 

At this point most of the other riders thinned out and I didn’t see anyone in front or behind me, huh, guess everyone finished already. It started sprinkling which was a nice change of pace, especially because it created some nice puddles to work on splashing through. I kept riding and pushing and figured out that maybe, just maybe I could break 6 hours, if I kept this pace and didn’t have any major hiccups. I dashed through a creek bed and somehow in the process kicked up a rock and slammed it directly into my great toe. Son-of-a-gun, welp there goes another toenail…

In the last two miles there is a short hill that as I was approaching I saw most people walking up. If I can just keep riding until it becomes too steep or slippery that will help. I passed a girl at the bottom and rode up until I was forced off by someone in front of me. At this point I was in race mode and kept scampering up to not get passed again by that girl. I ran until it was flat enough I could stop and get back on my bike (because that whole cross mount thing still isn’t happening). I came around the corner and saw one guy who had snapped his chain and was having to walk his bike in, “Hail Mary, Full of grace….please let me make it, on my bike.” I was nervous about the finish because me and hills don’t really get along, if you haven’t caught on, especially after 50 miles. Instead of heading directly down they loop you around, it’s certainly a nice way to finish. I crossed the finish line at the 5:55 mark they announced my name and that I was second in my age group, which it’s probably easy for them to keep track of the women riders a little more so than the men. Holy Cow! That’s 1:05 faster than I was hoping to be. 

I called my dad to see where he and Mary were. “We’re just coming into Leadville.”
“Oh, I’m done, sorry I was faster than I thought I’d be.”
“You’re done?!?”
They came and met me at the finish. I wanted to stick around for the awards just to see if I had actually gotten second and if there were more than two of us in the age group. Because I was done earlier than I thought I would be we went and grabbed some food and then came back for more waiting and hanging out. The people coming in at the 8 hour mark

looked miserable. Apparently the heavens had opened up and unleashed massive amounts on water on them. I told Mary she was lucky that didn’t happen to me otherwise they would have had to come get me as I tend to be a fair-weather rider. Fortunately for my age group and gender the results are pretty close to the front. Good news, there were more than two of us in the age group, and I did get second. The girl who beat me looked fast and I remember seeing her at the turn around point as I was recomposing myself after the tire explosion. The 50 is a qualifier and both the winner and I were offered spots in the 100. We were both already in. They they told us we could defer to 2014, which we both politely declined. Third place took the qualifying spot, so at least there will be three of us in my age group. I had thought before what I would do if I got a spot and thought about deferring but realized I should probably make it through one before I get too ahead of myself. 

As we were walking back to the car I was going to ride my bike up and meet my dad and Mary there. I had told my dad earlier how the guy I’m seeing is trying to teach me how to mount my bike in a coordinated, flexible, smooth, seamless fashion (It’s more like he does it and I just watch) . I attempted to do a cross mount to get on and over shot my bike seat and hucked myself all the way to the otherside of my bike, taking it down with me. Fortunately my dad was there to catch me and I only ended up with a small gash in my calf and some bruising. My dad mentioned that I might need to work on that. Luckily I have a bit of time before the 100. 

My finish in the 50 did help to put to ease some of the nerves I had for the 100 and just seeing if I would be able to handle that environment. The girl that beat me did so by 4 minutes, which I told some guys at the shop that and they  said, “so you paid all that money to get second.” I ended up 10th overall for females. It helps to at least think I did something right with my training.  As my friend told me tonight, in case I didn’t realize I’m no longer in the building phase but my peaking phase. 

This one’s for the fridge!

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