In a previous post I alluded to a bike race I am doing this year. That race is the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. This will be my third year battling the course. I wrote a couple of columns about the event in 05. At some point I will disclose how it is someone manages to cross the finish line with only five seconds to spare; but not today.
Today's story really began late in 2006. The story line has all the ingredients of a good western movie, set in an old mining town with a history of heros, power disputes and clandestine plans. Leadville is the perfect setting for a showdown between Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis and the lesser-publicized Dave Weins.
Late in 2006, the Leadville Chronicle released a story that confirmed Lance planned to race in the 2007 event. His interest in the event was sparked by his long-time coach Chris Charmichael's participation in the 2006 event. Chris apparently lost a bet that he would complete the event under nine hours, the special time cut for "La Plata Grande" the BIG belt buckle.
Race Director Ken Chlouber invited Floyd to do the race after Lance decided to do the event. To have two strong horses race though the middle of town is a good opportunity for the race and the city. For many, these guys remain heros of the American cycling movement. Yep, a grand opportunity for a good showdown, horse race or both.
After press, stories and the ususal hype expected from this kind of a race, Lance announced that he had a "scheduling conflict" and would not be able to do the race after all.
Last week Chris Charmichael reported he rode the Leadville course with Lance and hinted to the possibility that Lance may still race at Leadville. Ah, clandestine plans.
Also last week, Ken Chlouber made it very clear he wants Floyd on the start line and is willing to find an independent insurance company to insure the event. The race is sanctioned by NORBA for insurance purposes. NORBA is the National Off-Road Bicycling Association and a division of USA Cycling. USA Cycling falls under UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) rules. Floyd is currently under investigation for doping charges and if found guilty will be ineligble to compete in any UCI events for two years. Chlouber will do whatever it takes to have Floyd on the start line at Leadville.
Floyd said in a press story last week that he still plans on doing the event and has been busy whipping that new hip into shape.
Meanwhile, quietly preparing for the event is Dave Wiens - I'm guessing. There has been some press about the four-time Leadville winner, but not much. He is a Colorado native, former World Cup racer and a 2000 inductee into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. Leadville racers love him. He is approachable, friendly and shouts encouraging words to racers as he passes them when he is returning on the out-and-back course.
Now that you have the basic story, belly up to the bar and place your bets.
Will Lance do the race?
Will Floyd's new hip work as well or better than his old one?
Does living in Colorado and knowing the course give Wiens an advantage?
Which horse will charge across the finishline first?
On Wednesday I go to Leadville for my pre-ride of the year. If I see any secret training going on, I'll let you know. You may want to change your bet...