Strongest field in a long time so it’d be likely to be fast. I think he’s crazy, but I don’t find the drops more comfortable or faster than an areo grip on the hoods, or centre of my MTB bars.
Dylan said on his Pod he’s running aerobars. Another one where I wish they’d just rule them out, not because they’re and unfair advantage, or that the Pro’s can’t ride them safely. But the mid-pack riders, riding in groups, in and out of the aerobars on unpaved roads is sketchy.
When I was racing LV last year the guy who was in roughly 15th place as they were coming down Columbine was riding a drop bar MTB so it’s not unprecedented
Had a recovery ride on the schedule today so did roughly pipeline to the end of the single track. This was my first time on that section and have a question. I’ve already said I’m a nervous descender and when I got to Little Stinker (least I think that’s what it’s called), I walked down it. Maybe I’m a giant wuss but do other people walk down this on race day? I would much rather lose a couple of minutes vs. crashing my brains out.
I’ve found that descent (Little Stinker/Clavicle Hill) has been in a little better shape the last two years compared to 2019 when it was more deeply rutted. Obviously you have to do what you are most comfortable with, but keeping your weight back and braking lightly should get you down it. It’s nice to get a little momentum off this short descent to help carry you through the next section and then ultimately up the hill leading the single track.
I am unfortunately not doing LT100 this year, but am hoping to do it next year. To that end I have been doing major research on what XC bike to get (I currently own a 35 lb trail bike which is good for developing skills and fitness but not training). At this point, is it pretty much just old thinking to get a hard tail MTB? None of the big brands seem to be putting any resources into their HT bikes, just into FS models like the Epic, Spark, Oiz, Supercal, Scalpel, etc.
On the other end of the spectrum, I am curious about just getting a downcountry bike like the Epic EVO. I wonder if we will all be riding 120mm travel XC bikes at Leadville 2030 with the way trends are going.
There is no correct answer in the HT vs FS debate for Leadville. Both work well so it’s really a matter of personal preference, riding style, and budget. I’ve ridden both in Leadville and prefer my FS (Trek Supercaliber) to my HT (Niner Air 9 RDO). The SC is a little slacker and a whole lot smoother, which tends to take the edge off on the longer days. In the rocky sections I don’t have to worry about being careful with picking lines as much.
I’m sure some do but we’ve always ridden it in the areas of the pack I’ve been in. I think it’s always easier on race day when you can follow the lines of the people in front of you.
The only section of the course that actually gives me pause is there is a very rocky water bar you have to cross coming down towards Pipeline. It’s totally rideable if you pick the right spot but also looks like it would be easy to flat there or even endo if you panic and grab brake. To walk it would take 3 seconds so it’s not a big deal, but need to make the game time decision.
Ironically I could either see it being that or it pivoting hard the other way to drop bar suspended gravel bikes for the pointy end.
I’m a big FS fan because I don’t have the luxury of having a bike I’ll use only for this event and a 120mm FS bike is just far more versatile for the rest of my everyday riding. Modern FS bikes have gotten much lighter and with a good lockout you really aren’t losing much efficiency on climbs.
I agree with @Kuttermax that there’s no single right answer to this, but my personal opinion is that unless you live somewhere where a HT is all you need that a FS bike is the way to go and will actually be faster for the significant majority of people.
Now, if things start diverging to have sufficiently suspended drop bar aero gravel/MTB hybrids I could see the advantages stacking up, but that will be a bike for a very specific style of riding.
Got the epic EVO and a Canyon Exceed. To me, FS would feel overkill and slower. LV100 is a gravel race but just chunky enough to be a little sketch on a gravel bike. Bike choice more about wether you can afford to have two bikes and if you want comfort over speed.
I ride my exceed HT a bunch on fire roads in Colorado where FS is overkill but where a gravel bike just isn’t fun… so there’s a need for all my bikes (I have to tell that to the wife often)
Got me thinking, do any of the pros ride FS at Leadville? I could see a trend towards more gravel bike at LV100, but just don’t see it go the other way. My two cents.
It wasn’t that long ago that Levi won LT100 on a fully 26”. You’ll see plenty in the top 20 on FS.
Lots of HT with the pro’s, but there are some FS as well. Howes and Morton have been on FS. I believe Alex Grant rode a FS that last couple times he did Leadville as well. Jeremiah Bishop mentioned on the Bonk Bros podcast this week he will be on a FS but is riding more to have fun this year. Payson McElveen rode a Supercaliber last year and has even ridden a Top Fuel in the past. I would think he’ll being the new Allied FS this year.
I think it’s also important to keep in perspective your anticipated finish time. There is a big difference being a fast pro on a HT for 6 - 6.5 hours versus someone in the 9 - 12 hour range just trying to earn a buckle. Over those extra hours the fatigue is going to add up.
I just looked at my buckle, it doesn’t say gravel. It says, “MOUNTAIN BIKE RACE.” Ride whatever makes you happy. I ride my FS MTB everywhere, I just put the right tires on for the occasion. MTB,
Road, gravel, whatever.
There’s some of the downhill sections on the Leadville course that a gravel bike would be way outmatched on. The upper part of pipeline, the goat trail, some of the short rocky steeps near the single track, sugarloaf, Kevin’s.
For all the flats and nearly all the climbs, a gravel bike would be faster.
I think however you’d lose more time on the descents where all in a gravel bike would be slower. For me, I could probably ride my FS bike 2x-3x faster on those rocky descents vs my gravel bike.
“Most” pros will ride whatever their bike sponsors want them to ride. Bike companies/shops like to sell full suspension bikes because more money, more moving parts, more maintenance required.
You could fit the new carbon Giant Revolt gravel bike with some 29x2.2 Race Kings. It has room for 53mm tires. I’d love to see a pro take the win on that setup.
Far from comprehensive, but 3 out of 4 of the male pros included were on FS. A bigger sample would result in more HT than FS but I think the time difference between the two for a lot of these top athletes on top end equipment would be very small. Keegan would clearly still win on a FS, but he’d probably still win on a 30 lb trail bike with the right tires.
It’s smoother than I thought, except for a couple of short, chunky sections. These descents are so nervy though, the speeds are so high. Definitely have to remember to drop your outside foot.
Looks smoother on video than in real life. Plus they were riding on the left hand, smoother side, on much of the upper descent on Columbine. On race day, that’s the side all the riders are riding up (I.e. the good line) which pushes descending riders to the right hand side of the track which is rougher and looser. Not a tech descent, but like you say, the high speeds, steep trail making it harder to slow down, (and narrow line due to ascending riders) makes things sketchy.
Regarding the water bar, during my pre-ride, I had decided there was no way I would ride it. Come race day, outbound it was easy-peasy. Inbound, I was wasted and I hopped off.
I rode it last year so don’t know what it is like this year, but the upper powerline seemed much more washed out and rocky compared to what is on this video.
For your enjoyment and/or edification:
Everybody is probably ready to do this. Researched everything, have plans. That was me last year too. But I’m the definition of “pennywise, pound foolish” or maybe just an idiot. I made some mistakes on every section that nearly cost me a finish.
- I was way too concerned about getting cold at the start of the race. I had on a fleece, knee warmers, full-finger gloves with latex gloves underneath, and I think I had a beanie on as well. The start of the race was 40 degree but felt warmer as there was no wind last year. It definitely cooled off as we approached St. Kevin’s but I definitely didn’t need everything I was wearing. By the time that I dumped it at Pipeline, I was drenched.
- I had one pair of glasses. Instead of shelling out some money and having some glasses that performed in all conditions, I had a cheap pair that may have cost me $30. They began to fog up about 25% up St. Kevin’s. This normally didn’t cause an issue for me but since I was surrounded by so many people I had to take them off. I hung them from the front of my jersey and about 2 minutes later they fell off. It was impossible to stop and retrieve them. At that point, I should have asked people at Pipeline or had my crew member ask people for an extra pair. I’m sure they could have found some. I didn’t think of that though and subsequently did ~98 miles without glasses. This would have been really nice to have around mile 35 when I ended up behind a side-by-side on the gravel for nearly 5 minutes.
- Related to above, I was beginning the descent of St. Kevin’s and rode under a streamer which was marking the course. It struck me just below my right eye and wasn’t that big of deal. But 1 inch higher, it would have hit me directly in the eye.
- I feel bad about this one because I almost ran into people. I pre-rode the bottom 3/4s of the descent of Powerline. I knew that the little bump before the final descent could essentially be crested if I kept all of my momentum and just pushed hard for 20 seconds or so. That was my plan. I thought everyone would do this but apparently not. I rode up the back of 2 guys and narrowly made it between them. But then there were more people and I had to brake and suddenly downshift to my lowest gear.
- I did nearly the same thing at the very end of Powerline where you make a right hand turn onto the paved road. The guys I rode up behind did not maintain any momenturm and suddenly I was in the incorrect gear. I actually had to violently unclip for that one and put a foot down.
- My 2 crew mates had never crewed before. Both of them arrived late the night before the race so we didn’t have a chance to go over every detail. We knew that the aid stations would be busy so we basically decided which side of the trail the crew would be on and then would try to be as conspicuous as possible. Crew mate #1, I’ll call Slim, decided to set up directly across from the official aid station. This was an ok idea in theory, but was terrible in practice. I was completely distracted by the official station. Slim saw me and was yelling my name, but I didn’t hear him. So I proceeded to soft pedal the entire aid station which was ¾ of a mile long. I got to the end and I was like, well, I guess I’m screwed. I looked back, should I pedal against the race? No. I was completely out of water and food. I was drenched in my clothes. Thankfully, a fellow had set up an aid station at the very end and so I stopped there. He only had water (no energy drinks) but that was enough. He also had some Skratch energy chews which I was familiar with and some Skratch Pistachio granola bars. I decided at that point to dump all of my gear with him. I had crewmate #2, who I’ll call BRO, call Slim from Twin Lakes alternate and tell him what I did and then Slim went and picked up my gear from Aid station guy from Heaven. This whole disaster took 5 minutes alone at the aid station and over 100 people passed.
- I left Pipeline and just decided to try to put down the 2 granola bars. I hadn’t planned on really doing any solid food, but I had no choice. In my haste, I literally inhaled an entire pistachio from the granola bar. Thank God, I immediately sensed it and violently coughed it out. So that happened.
- No major mistakes between Twin Lakes and Pipeline but it was the closest I came to crashing when I briefly lost my front wheel in some loose gravel. I guess I did overshoot the entry into the singletrack due to speed (even though I had pre-ridden it) and had to ride in the brush for about 15 yards. I also came upon a fellow who unfortunately may have broken a clavicle or separated his shoulder on the single track.
- BRO was at Twin Lakes Alternate. His conspicuous choice was basically to be the last person separated by 20 yards. This made sense from his perspective and I definitely didn’t miss him but I did have to soft pedal essentially the entire aid station.
- The only thing that happened on the Columbine ascent was that a woman decided she needed to pass me at one point. It was just when it moved from the full road to being more narrow. I lost my line and actually had to put a foot down almost into oncoming traffic. Thankfully, no one was coming at that moment, but it could have been a disaster.
- On the descent, I had a lot of chain slap and it kept hitting my ankle. I finally realized I could shift down a few gears and put my ankle out of harms way. I also lost a water bottle on the descent but that wasn’t a big deal.
- The last near self-induced crash approaching Leadville. It was the road that you take that goes by the mobile homes just before you make the left hand turn with the small climb and final approach into Leadville. Anyway, I came in to that flying with a couple of other guys and was not prepared for the depth of some of the potholes.
- I decided to wear a skin suit. Yeah, sometimes I felt like an idiot. I think it would have been an ok choice, but I went cheapo and got the Black Bibs skin suit. This would have been fine if it wasn’t completely black. I would strongly recommend wearing white as it did cause me to overheat at times.
- It would have been nice to have some crew with me the day before the race to help prepare. I felt like I was on my feet for a lot of the day prepping everything. BRO also wasn’t able to get to the house we were staying until nearly 10:30 and I couldn’t sleep waiting for him and just nerves.
Final Major mistake: I was not comfortable with my gear and set up prior to race day. I actually switched my saddle to my road saddle the night before the race which I think was the right call. But I was uncomfortable with my shoes and pedals prior to coming in.
Post-race: I had not consumed caffeine for 1 week prior to race. I was unable to calculate how much caffeine I had during the race but I’m guessing around 600 mg, maybe a lot more. I also took a steam shower that triggered severe coughing for hours. This could have been coming anyway. The combination of these things kept me from sleeping for hours.
Recommendations: I had Slim dump our entire cooler of ice and water on meat Pipeline inbound. That was great.
I also had some great moments of serenity walking my bike in the shade on the upper half of Powerline.
All in all, I really didn’t have any bad luck, everything happened from my poor decisions.
Good luck out there! You’re going to need a little