In Leadville for a Day - What would you do?

Taking a road trip and will be in Leadville on July 7th and maybe the 8th. First time there and want to ride one or two sections of the course. What do you think gives me the best bang for the buck as I will be doing the race in 2021.

As a side note, if anyone is going to be around the area that day, let me know if you want to ride.

Have a great day!

I had some friends come meet me out there for a similar opportunity a few years back. For the views we collectively decided to drive to the base of Columbine and ride to the top. I would say if you are doing one thing, that is probably the best bang for the buck.

Another option would be to ride out of town and follow the route up St. Kevin’s and go as long as you would like, turn around and ride back into town. Depending on how far you want to ride you could take that route out to the base of Powerline turn around at the bottom and ride back up Powerline and reverse course back to town. I’ve done that too, pretty good day on the bike.


Agree with @Stringwise recommendations.

Columbine good for short ride. Not hard at all if you are fresh and not doing race pace, you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about.

If looking for a pretty full day, follow the entire outbound course to the top of columbine, turn around, and then you can turn back to town and skip powerline, sugarload, st kevins, etc. on the way back. It’s a longish day on the bike, but not crazy.

I’m hoping to get a trip out there as well this summer and I’m planning on doing at least one long ride day. Maybe full course, but may take one of the bail out options back to town before powerline if I’m not feeling it.


these are all good suggestions. I did the race once, and about a month before the race I spent 3 days in Leadville and pre-rode everything EXCEPT Columbine. I’ve been wanting to go back and ride Coumbine just to enjoy the scenery. That part of the course is probably the most spectacular (remember to bring a raincoat and don’t get stuck up above treeline in the afternoon when the July T-storms start coming in!)

The other option, if you are really trying to recon for the race, is to focus on the other end of the course. Pre-riding this part is very valuable for the race but maybe not the most fun.

You could ride from the start to St. Kevens and back or even all the way to the bottom of the Powerline descent or the fish hatchery and back (that would be getting up to a 40 mile ride, pretty long day)

The very first few miles contain some turns on and off the pavement. On race morning you’ll be cold and going surprisingly fast downhill in a huge pack. Those turns can sneak up on you, so knowing how to position yourself in the pack for those turns ahead of time can be valuable. A lot of people quickly scout this section a day or two before the race if they come to town early to acclimate.

Scouting the end of the course is valuable, too. remember that the final few miles are slightly different than the outbound - it’s not EXACTLY an out and back course and the race is like 103.3 miles, not a round 100. So if you haven’t scouted the finale, on race day when you are bonked and miserable you might be wondering where you are and when the heck the race is ever going to end. There also is a loose babyhead climb in the final few miles that is worth seeing ahead of time.

But in any case, have fun. I’m jealous.

These are the prerides I did on successive days before my first LT100.

FWIW - I think Leadville to the bottom of Powerline and back is a more fun ride than the Columbine climb.


Me too actually. The people I rode with weren’t in PBville 100 shape so Columbine in terms of overall time in the saddle was a better choice for them even though it is a big climb, it’s pretty gentle if the only thing ridden for a day and at a endurance pace.

I did downtown to the base of powerline and back twice prior to the race. Here is my strava file if you want to download it for navigation purposes:

Great feedback everyone and while I’ve been consistent with training the weight has stayed the same during Covid. So sitting at about 250 FTP and 230 pounds. 2.4 w/kg The climbs I know will be a beating carrying the weight up but it’s all good. There to have some fun and recon the course. Liking the town to end of powerline and based on the map it looks like there are some good spots where the wife could meet me along the way for a mobile aid station. She’s super awesome and best support crew.

Stringwise - What do you think your w/kg was when you did that in 4 hours?

Thanks all,

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I wasn’t really into the numbers back then like it seems we all are today :grinning:

If I had to make a reasonable guess I would say 170 lbs and 285 FTP so maybe 3.7w/kg give or take? My finish time that year was 9:11.

You are correct there are places along the way to resupply where your wife can meet you. I like that stretch for a really peaceful ride. I don’t think I saw another person on the trail either day I rode that route.

I’m jealous would love to be out there this year!

Agree with the ride from town to bottom of Powerline, or a little further, and then turn back and ride back with doing the normal finishing route on the way back.

Not only is this a really fun ride, it will give you some really valuable recon. You will see some of the roughest portions of the course on Sugarloaf, and that can help you with understanding bike set up for the event. Getting up and down Powerline will also put things into better perspective for you since there is so much hype regarding that section. Finally, hitting the final stretch at the end of the ride will give you some sense of how it will feel on race day. That last stretch seems much longer than it actually is.

Columbine is a fun ride but very different on a non-race day. The last mile or two near the top are rideable but rocky and rough on non-race day. Then there is a bit of a false summit and it can be confusing at the top on a non-race day, so having a GPS is super helpful. On race day, the jeep track rocky section is mostly hike-a-bike on the way up except for the leaders.

Have a great time. Leadville is wonderful place and amazing community. Definitely going to miss it this summer.

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I’ll be in the Leadville area around the end of July and plan to ride some of the course. This thread is very helpful.


So did a class with Lee McCormack in Boulder on the 6th and since I’m beyond a newb with MTB the class paid huge dividends. Just did a lot of fundamentals and a lot transferred to the Leadville ride the next day.

Parked at the Aquatic Center to start the ride and had the wife there running support. For reference I’m still 232 pounds and 2.4 w/kg at sea level. To quote Stringwise from above, not in PBVille Race Shape. Only had 1 day at 5k and 1 day at 9-10k feet so not much acclimation. Plan was to ride to base of powerline and back. Spoiler, That didn’t happen. :grinning: Long story short at the current fitness level, the climbs were tough. Not so much on the legs but the cardio at altitude was lacking. Ended up doing hike a bike on the steep sections. Finally got to powerline and was too tired to hold a good position on the bike for the technical upper section and just did my best to get down. Made it to the bottom and was done for the day.

The good: course is amazing and the views over the lake were really nice. Really happy I could gauge the current fitness/skills and I know I need to drop probably 50 lbs and continue to build ftp before the race next year. I think this section gave me a good picture of the course. As hard as it was, I had a great time!!

Thanks to everyone that chimed in with where to ride and the course map provided by Stringwise. See you at the race in 2021.

Images are close to the top of Sugarloaf climb.

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Thanks for the info. I have also thought about taking a class from Lee. The feedback is interesting. I’ll be in the Denver area for several days before heading up to the Leadville area. I recently tested and I’m at 3.25 w/kg at sea level so I am interested to see how that translates on Columbine and Powerline. I met my goal ftp but I’m carrying about 6-8 Covid pounds that I need to lose. I really want to see what my current ftp and a week of acclimatization does for me as I plan for 2021 Leadville.

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Sounds like you found a good option for where you’re at.

I personally wouldn’t recommend riding any of that course if you’re in the Leadville area and have a mtn bike and some technical skills. Maybe the first 5 miles of dirt so you get an idea of the grades and what road condition to expect in the madness of the pack. It’s just dirt roads though and unless you’re riding with the lead groups or think you’re gonna be right on the cusp for podiuming or a belt buckle, I don’t know that course previewing helps that much.

I’d much prefer to go ride the CT trail. Brown’s Creek is beautiful. Tennessee pass is flatter, but nice singletrack. Monarch Crest is exceptional and not that far from Leadville. Dirty Copper Triangle (searle/koko passes) is a short drive away as well and ridiculously good riding.

That’s good practice for next year! Only the strongest riders can ride Leadville without hike-a-bike.

Playing devil’s advocate if you haven’t ridden any of the course and you want to do the event, I think time spent on the course is much more valuable than riding another mountain bike trail in Colorado. No shortage of awesome trails, no argument there, but of no value on race day. I was very glad I had ridden powerline up and down several times so when race day came I knew what was ahead.

You are welcome and congrats on getting out there and getting a taste. No you know what to expect next August and you will be better for it.

Your pictures are great, I miss being there!

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I still think the course profile can tell you what to expect there. It’s a really steep dirt road late in the race. Don’t burn all your matches on Columbine or on the flats back or you’re gonna have a bad time.

With limited free time, I’d simply much rather ride everything else CO has to offer. You do get valuable time doing that as well, since nearly every good/long ride in that area is going to have a climb that’s similar in length/steepness/elevation to columbine or powerline at high elevation. Most are a little or a lot more technical, but they’ll provide the same effect of getting the asphyxiation feeling of sustained steep climbing at 10k-12k.

For me the specificity paid off. No doubt there are probably better rides in the area but I wanted to experience part of the actual course. I’ll get back to CO down the road and do some of the other epic trails! Added the ones you mentioned to the list.