Leadville 2021 Thread

I just went back and checked my strava from last summer when I did a solo pre-ride of the first ~80 miles of the course (using the detour around private land). I hit the columbine turn around at 53.1 miles, that that would mean ~2 additional miles outbound and another 2 miles on the return. It’s possible that I had some extra miles on the pre-ride due to a course mistake or something, but I don’t think so. If they are adding 4 miles to this race, that’s probably ~15 minutes additional time.

Sorry for creating any confusion but I don’t think the course is going to be significantly longer. I’m sure they said though the part of changing it to avoid the private land, but perhaps someone else will be able to clarify how things are adjusted so it isn’t 4 miles longer.

Do they provide a ridewithgps or other digital route when it’s finalized, or is the course so well marked That any changes won’t confuse us?

On Race Day it will be really well marked with pink flags/ribbons. Between that, the other riders, volunteers pointing at certain spots, and even spectators lining the course, it should be very easy to follow.

There should be some GPS files to download but don’t know if there will be an “official one”. I found those helpful for pre-rides when the course wasn’t marked. On Race Day I didn’t find the GPS that necessary except for using to load data for the Garmin Climb Pro screen, which I like to use on some of the long climbs to track progress.

1 Like

No worries, any info is always appreciated. Is it possible they were talking about the trail further up columbine past the alternate feed? I believe there were some private land issues there in the past also, but a minor course change was made to deal with it.

1 Like

I suspect that is what it is.

This is pretty much how it was at this weekend’s Silver Rush 50. Volunteers had pitchers and would refill for you or you could refill yourself at coolers. For food it was the same - a volunteer would happily grab what you wanted if you asked or you could grab it yourself.

1 Like

I was debating about tires and chainring size. For tires, I was debating between 2.25 Mezcal which I’ve ridden in the past vs going with 2.2 Race King ProTection. I ended up getting a set of Race Kings on sale but haven’t mounted yet. I wouldn’t call the Mezcal chunky… but boy kind of concerned at how little tread there are on the Race Kings. They’re like gravel tires, almost no shoulder knobs at all. Will mount them and give them a shot but still have my doubts.

For chainring, personally I’m sticking with 30T oval. Was super close to putting on my 32T oval instead but after SR50 last weekend and re-listening to @Jonathan ‘s LT100 recap podcast I’m sticking with 30T. I could ride pretty much everything at SR50 last weekend on the 30T and I think keeping riding when others are walking is going to make up more time than I risk losing spinning out on pipeline outbound. Need to mount the Race Kings and do a test on pavement to see at what wattage I spin out, but in previous tests it’s been at wattages that would be stupid to sustain following my pacing strategy. Sure some others will disagree, but I think the “you need a 34T to hammer pipeline outbound” is bad advice for vast majority of riders.

1 Like

The Race King is fast and I was surprised how much traction it provided as a rear tire. The sealant leaking through the tread made me nervous though. I’ve since talked to a number of riders who use them regularly and say the sealant leaking through is “normal”, but for an “A” race like Leadville I just didn’t feel comfortable with that and went back to Schwalbe. If you like them though, maybe consider running it in the rear and then something with a little more bite in the front?

For someone gunning sub-9, a 34T up front with a 10-52T is very reasonable gear. Above 9hour goal, then dropping down may make sense. With oval I would think a 30T is about the equivalent of a 32T round. On Race Day, the steepest sections are usually walked, including a good portion of the Goat trail at the top of Columbine and the steep 22% section of Powerline. The rest of Powerline is a grind though, with all the rocks, but at a steady slow cadence it can be climbed fairly easily on a 34T/10-52T combo. If you really like to spin and not grind a low cadence, then a smaller front ring would help.

I agree that hammering on the flats and exhausting yourself doesn’t make sense, but there are a number of gentle downhills where light pedaling, rather than just coasting, can definitely help. An example of this is the bottom of St. Kevin’s heading back. Assuming you still have some energy left at this point, you can make up some time here by not coasting. A bunch of other spots like this around the course where you can pick up some time by pedaling and not coasting in the big gear.

I do appreciate your perspective and acknowledge these things are very subjective.

I’ve done the race before and am familiar with the overall course flow. I have not ridden Columbine since 2018 though so perhaps I’m being naive in thinking I can ride a lot of the goat trail. I could ride almost everything up at 12,000ft at Silver Rush last weekend as well as other high altitude routes like Kenosha Pass without walking using a 30T. Not sure I could with a 32T but I am a high cadence / spinner rather than a grinder. I find the biggest barrier to riding these sections is maintaining traction and that grinding a big gear is generally a detriment to that.

I’m shooting for sub-9 (barely) and no way I’d even consider a 34T. I’d consider 32T with a 52T but I have the older Eagle with a 50T rear and don’t feel like buying a $300+ cassette just for this event. Again acknowledging that there’s not a one size fits all for everyone, but @Jonathan rode 8:14 on a 32T, said he never spun out, and said he thinks vast majority of people should be on 28T.

1 Like

I’ve ridden the LT100 twice on Race Kings. I’ve also ridden the White Rim on Race Kings, as well as riding regular MTB trails on the Race Kings to get used to them before Leadville.

The Race Kings work great for Leadville. The sections you need to be most careful on are the loose over hard, fast descents on the Lower part of Powerline, and the fire road portion of Columbine. You can still ride these fast, just need to pay more attention, in particular when you have to brake or turn.

I’ve never ridden Mezcals, but they also look like a fast tire. I don’t think they’re quite as fast as the Race Kings though, so all in for a race like Leadville, I’d go with the Race Kings.

And FWIW as a point of comparison, I would not ride the Silver Rush with Race Kings.


With a 10-50T and the 30T oval, it does sound like a good fit for you, especially if you like to spin. I think 30T oval is pretty similar to 32T round, right?

When you hit the Goat trail in prior event, did traffic allow you to ride it? When I did it in 2019 it was impossible to ride near the top because it was just a giant line of people walking. For the fast folks who get their earlier, there might still be an option to ride.

I did switch to a 10-52T in the rear with Leadville in mind and that’s given me the flexibility to keep the 34T in the front. If I was still running a 10-50T I’d go 32T.

As much as I respect @Jonathan I don’t think a 28T for a relatively fast rider (sub-9) makes sense unless they really love spinning uphill. I know earlier this year he talked about the advantages of larger front rings from an efficiency standpoint as well and made a switch on his own bike to a bigger front ring.

Marvin Sandoval, a Leadville local legend and very experienced rider, was on the Leadville podcast a few weeks ago. He discussed trying a 32T but went back to 34T. He is an 8 - 8.5hr rider working on trying to break 8 hr this year. I was privileged to ride with him on the Leadville course a couple of weeks ago. He’s on Shimano and had 51T in the rear with a 34T up front. He tends to climb at a slower cadence and mostly out of the saddle.

Oh I’m with you on that, I don’t think sub-9 people should be on 28T and I don’t think Jonathan meant that either. Sub-9 is around 20% of finishers, so for the other 80% they should probably consider going 30 or 28 though I expect very few would go 28T. IMO for most people who are going to be on the cusp of sub-9 then 32T is sweet spot, and for people like Martin who are much closer to 8 I can see 34T with 51 or 52 for sure.

When I did the race in 2018 the upper goat trail was a conga line, no way I could have ridden due to the people. I was in a worse wave and quite a bit slower then in general so I’m hoping I’ll be at a point with more riders this year but that’s still pretty doubtful. I have a power meter and plan to go out following my pacing plan and I expect a lot of people to be out in front of me chasing early race excitement before realizing they’ve overdone things probably exactly when they hit the goat trail.


It would be interesting to hear from others at what point upper Columbine starts to back up? Do you have to be a sub 8 rider to not have to walk the top?

1 Like

what was your silver rush time?

Got a few questions for the Leadville vets here. This year is 1st time riding at 10k+ elevation from 3600ft, 1st time 100 camp, 1st time SR50, and 1st time MTB 100.

Here are my questions:
Do some people naturally adapt quicker and better to elevation over others?

At the camp I really didn’t notice the elevation change like I thought. 3rd day was just as strong as 1st day and I was finishing in the top 20 or so at the camp. I really wasn’t pushing at the camp since I was really only looking to see the course and yet many were talking how strong I was riding being from Texas. This past Sunday I raced the SR 50 and had a similar experience. I was shooting for .7 IF at 210NP after factoring in elevation and ended up 209NP. The problem is I had a ton left in the tank at the end, which stinks since I end SR with a 5:07 and missed next corral by 7 min! So now I am totally confused how to pace the 100!

I plan to sleep at elevation 9 night prior to the 100 - What IF should I shoot for? Should I pace based on elevation FTP or normal FTP based on how good I felt at the Camp and SR? Is .75 iF too high you think to shoot for?


It can definitely vary. Have you been riding a lot in the Texas heat? Some have suggested heat training helps with altitude since there may be some overlap in the adaptions such as increased plasma volume and hematocrit. With Leadville being cool, you may have benefitted from the cooler temps and then not been hit quite as hard by the altitude.

Coming nine nights before and staying at altitude will help. My own experience is that after 7 days I feel the altitude a lot less. Team Sky reported in the past that 7 day altitude camps were ideal for their riders.

Given the length of Leadville, you might want to shoot for 0.7 IF during the first half. If your FTP is accurate, I think 0.75 in the first half might be a little risky. After Columbine, if you are feeling great, then you can start to push a little harder knowing you are in the back half. The big test is Powerline at Mile 80. On race day this is probably the biggest challenge on the course. If you feel good after that, you are golden and can drop the hammer until the finish.

Would also like to hear from others but I DM’ed Jonathan on a similar question and he said he pedaled up Columbine and his finish was ~8:15.

It’s been cooler than normal here in Texas, but I am well adapted to riding in the heat. I like your thoughts on starting at .7 and adjusting at Columbine. Totally agree on PL - just glad I got to ride and see it all before the actual race. I got the .75 IF from Jonathan when he did Leadville but understand I am not him…lol

Most certainly. Count yourself lucky if you didn’t suffer any huge effects. I personally really struggle with the altitude coming from sea level. The charts I’ve seen say to adjust your power down ~15% for 10K feet of altitude if you are acclimated and even more if you are not. That’s inline with what I see. The biggest discomfort for me is the breathing. I am sucking wind and suffering at 230 watts in leadville and I can ride at 270 watts comfortably holding a conversation at sea level. It’s almost a sensation of drowning or suffocating. The legs are OK, but I hate the constant gasping for air. Hard to eat and drink. I’ve never properly acclimated, I always get a little less than a week in. Some people say it’s best to arrive the day of the race or one day prior if you can’t get up there for 2+ weeks prior. I can tell you that wouldn’t work for me. I’ve tried to ride day of arrival and the following day, and I suffer bad. After about 3 days, I’m doing much better, but I still see the huge power drop off and rapid breathing.