Leadville Equipment Dilemmas

There’s a few things I haven’t mess with on my bike. Cable routing is one. Bleeding brakes is another. I go to the pros for that :grin:


socal unfortunately. if you are ever down this way, HMU


I have never raced Leadville, but I am an MTB instructor.

If you rank your MTB skills at 4/10 I would suggest the single biggest things you should do is take some lessons from a PMBIA certified instructor. A basic skills course will fundamentally change how you ride. More advanced lessons can help you work on line choice, climbing, pressure control, and descending rollers.

Different equipment will never make you a better rider.
Maybe a slightly better passenger.


DanF, where do you live? I did Tahoe and leadville, both for the first time last year. I am in Reno and doing both again this year.

@elliotg898 I’m down in Auburn, not to far from you. I plan to do a bit of riding up near Tahoe once the snow melts. I’ll be doing a lot of road / gravel riding before that. I live right by the start of the Tour de Placer Roubaix gravel ride.

I’ll be up there pre riding the course in the summer if you are ever up there. I do a fair about of road racing before the summer starts, then transition over. What was your time last year?

That’s a great idea! I pre-road the course last year. Helped a lot. I finished last year at 6:14. My training was all volume based. I am hoping that with a more structured training plan this year I can get that down below 6 hours to put me up in the green corral. At this point, I have no real goals for Leadville other than to finish. Hit me up when you’re pre-riding Tahoe and I’ll try to join you.


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That’s awesome man! You got under 6 for sure if you train! I’ll for sure let you know whenever this snow melts and I make it up there! lol

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Hardtail vs Full——- This depends on couple things how skilled you are on the hardtail. There is four sections of around 1 mile each Powerline, Columbine, Sugarloaf, and St. Kevins descents these are sections to navigate but a good bike handler will crush these by choosing a good line. The nice thing with a full suspension is that the down hills can become much more recovery oriented. From my first three times I rode Scott spark 2x and scale (HArdtail) once. Leadville should not choose a bike based on the downhills. Ask yourself two questions which bike am I most comfortable riding and where on the coarse can I gain the most time, most likely this on the up hills…The FS made me swear a lot on Columbine and Powerline with a semi locked out shock, more weight and remember you do need to push these things as well 2-3 times during the day.
I will be hardtailing it this year 2019 …no dropper

Gearing is tough one I will be running Double XTR 36/26…possible 38/28 if it fits…reason is that the first six miles are at 30+ mph…Hyper cadence elevated my HRT in this section I would prefer to minimize cadence to around 70-85…The double gives you a wide range 36/26 40-11 gives you a little more ability to hit the sweat spot for the pedaling portions …traffic usually forces you to get off on the really steep parts anyway so having the mountain goat gear in my opinion is not needed, but the start, Powerline to twin lakes is 20miles of flat and rolling terrain having the power oriented gear is my preference I am 195 lbs 6’2 …

Tires for this one I have had good luck with Maxxis: LAst year I ran Aspens 2.25 front and rear. 25-30psi…Year before ran Tread Lite 2.1 front and rear …first year some heavier nobs which was absolute overkill…Make sure the tires are 120thread count with EXO and put them on a week or two prior to the race and there should be no problems…There is over 30+miles of pavement and a whole ton more hard packed gravel.


this is exactly the type of info i was looking for- thank you! from forum feedback and various podcasts/people, i am definitely leaning HT at this point.

gearing is interesting since i too may opt for your double strategy and run a XTR 34/24 if the speeds . i didnt realize the speeds hit that fast.

Now that the weather is getting better, I’ve broken out my MTB and getting it ready for the season.

I added TOGS and ESI grips closer to my stem on my bars to give me a narrower grip option to be more aero for Leadville. Seems like it will work. I’ll test ride to see how long I can stay that narrower grip position comfortably.


I foam wrapped my bars near the stem so I could get aero on the road flats. It worked well I think you will be happy with it. I never touched them other than on the windy pavement sections but I was definitely faster using them than not.


Good discussion above and the race is rapidly approaching.

Any more votes for tire options or changes any of you are settling in on?

Listening to the podcast I’m intrigued by the Schwalbe Thunder Burt / Maxxis Aspen type fast rolling tires. I haven’t committed to them but am definitely open to considering.

I’d go with the fastest rolling tire you are comfortable with that has good durability. All of the major brands have pretty good fast rolling XC tires at this point. Just avoid the “Race” “Sworks” sidewalls since having to do a boot is going to cost you way more time than the extra 50-100g will.

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Don’t bother with the dropper. Seriously, the descents aren’t that steep and there aren’t any real technical features to deal with. Any benefit of having the dropper would be outweighed by my concern that it might fail at some point, which would really suck!

Only done LT100 once, but here are my thoughts:

  1. If the HT and FS were within a couple of pounds, then go FS. A 5 pound difference is big, so I’d go HT unless it will beat up your back too badly. It’s by no means technical, but it is a long day and being a bit fresher at the end would be fantastic.

  2. Can you put a 30T on the Felt? If so, I’d go with that and keep it 1X. I dropped a chain twice due to terrible shifting caused by race brain. Didn’t cost much time, but still be nice to have one less thing to think about with the 1X.

  3. Yes, you need sturdy sidewalls. When you’re coming down Columbine all the way to the Twin Lakes aid station there will likely be traffic going the other way (unless you’re close to the cutoff times) and that limits your line choices. Tore a sidewall (about a 1-inch slit in a Burt, non-Snakeskin… doh!) just a couple of minutes before getting to Twin Lakes inbound while trying to avoid traffic. Not good.

Also descending Sugarloaf there are some pretty sharp rocks and trying to keep your rear tire clear is a challenge at 7+ hours and you’ve just finished hiking the Powerline climb. Don’t need much tread or width, so go light but with sidewall protection! I’d be comfortable with the Ralph/Burt combo again or Ikons, don’t have experience with much else… and probably 2.25 front, 2.1 back.

Bottom line, all of this stuff will make a 5 or 10 minute difference at most IMHO, so don’t sweat it too much and have fun!

For folks like me that finished in the low 9 hour range 5-10 minutes definitely matters! 9:01 to 11:59 is the same to me this year. I don’t want to cut corners but at the same time if there are intelligent upgrades over what I’m running it seems reasonable to want to flesh those out now.

I am probably going to buy a Burt and run it on the rocky trails here in Texas. If I don’t cut it here I will feel pretty good about it surviving Pbville. Happy to report back here with any updates.

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It would be nice if this website was updated with the Aspens, so we’d known how rolling resistance compares vs other tires.


I rode the continental race king pros 2 years ago. Plan to do the same this year.

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Oh, I hear ya, I finished in 9:13. :scream:

At first that bothered me, but it didn’t exactly affect my paycheck. :wink:

Once I realized it was just my ego getting in the way of an absolutely awesome day on the mtb… I got over it pretty quick. 9 or 12 or whatever hours is a completely arbitrary cutoff, but I totally get the desire to chase and reach a challenging goal. I try to judge myself by effort and fun nowadays and not much else.

The entire race is arbitrary, really. Is it not?

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