Every once in a while I do something that doesn’t fall into the categories of swimbikerun or eatsleep. (I know, I was shocked too. I had to check with The Whip Cracker to make sure it’s even allowed.) This weekend is one of those times and I’m super excited.
The Support Staff, along with more than a few members of his family, is tackling the first running (riding?) of the Leadville 24 Hour mountain bike race.
It’s my turn to be support staff! I hope I have the endurance to pull this off.
The story of the Leadville races is a great “give a community a fish, teach a community to fish” story. This guy, Ken Chlouber, who totally personifies Leadville and its spirit, started the 100 mile trail run to bring more tourism/money to town after the mine closed, taking something like 50% of the town’s jobs with it. The race begins and ends with a shotgun shot. The prize: pride and a belt buckle. More races like the 100 mile mountain bike race and the 10k road run followed, all of which start in Leadville, at 10,200’ the second highest town in the US. And then the coveted Lead (Wo)Man: complete all the events….which means a 10k road run the morning after the 100 mile mountain bike race. The Lead (Wo)Man prize: lots of pride, a few more buckles for other races, and a plaque. (Never mind that none of those people have any sort of gut or extra large pants waist to necessitate even a belt.) Recently Lance Armstrong decided he was all about the mountain bike and the whole thing exploded.
Last year I was fortunate to crew The Support Staff and others in the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. The atmosphere on race weekends is absolutely electric. The local basketball gym (think Hoosiers) hosts the pre- and post-race ceremonies and with people hanging from the rafters, Ken - one of the most inspirational and energetic speakers I’ve ever heard - gets everyone to call-and-response his mantra: “you’re better than you think you are; you can do more than you think you can.” I get chills just thinking about it!
Click here to watch Ken telling it like it is. "We didn't do all this work so you could go out there and be a crybaby." And check out that plate holding his bike shorts up! I freaking love this guy!
Plus the sayings on the race posters are simultaneously hilarious and poignant. Who wouldn’t want to do an event where the tag line one year was “If You Have Tears, Prepare to Shed Them Now”?
I think there is something to be said for being realistic about the challenges we face in sport and in life. To say “This is going to suck, but you are going to better and stronger for having done it.” No pulling punches, no pulling out, just pulling on our big boy/girl pants and grunting it out.
Sometimes that’s the purest, most real thing we can do. It can literally make us free.
Where’s my mountain bike?!?! I want to race too!!! Wait a sec…I think there might be some swimbikerun in that…I’ll be over here, preparing coffee and hot soup…which I’m much better at preparing than I think I am….