For those of you that didn’t get into the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race via the early lottery, I mentioned in a previous blog that there would be three qualifier races this year. They are:
June 19th, 2011 100K Wilmington/Whiteface
July 10th, 2011 Lake Tahoe Trail 100K
July 31, 2011 Crested Butte Alpine Odyssey
The qualifiers are intentionally selected and designed to mimic the conditions at Leadville, sans the altitude.
Each of the events will have 100 slots for the qualification process. The qualification process at each event is:
Fifty (50) spots will be allocated based on the top age-group performance. The spots will be proportionally spread across age groups based on the age-group profile of registered athletes (e.g. if 70% of the registered athletes are men, then approximately 70%, or 35, of the slots will be allocated to men). There will be at least one qualifying spot per age group.
The other fifty (50) spots will be allocated by drawing among finishers who meet the time standard specific to that qualifier. The time standard for Leadville Qualifying Series Races is designed to establish a threshold level of performance that suggests that an athlete has a reasonable likelihood of finishing the Leadville Trail 100 in less than 12 hours.
The time standard will vary from race to race depending on the race's length, profile, total amount of climbing and base altitude. The number of spots per age group and the time standard for each race will be posted no less than 48 hours before the start of each race.
Only riders who achieve the time standard will receive a spot in the Leadville Trail 100.
The Leadville Trail 100 (LT100) is well on its way to becoming the Ironman of mountain bike racing. There are plenty of people unhappy about the direction the race has taken, others are happy and others have no idea there are any issues.
Let me explain.
The LT100 began in 1994 as a quirky mountain bike race. The major goal of the event was similar to that of the Leadville 100 Run, beginning in 1983, and that was to bring visitors to Leadville. The economy in town was facing hard times and race directors Ken Chlouber and Merilee Maupin wanted to do something to help. They dreamed of athletes being drawn to Leadville for some of the most challenging events in the world.
Each year, their event grew in popularity. Most of the growth was due to word of mouth. Mountain bike riders that completed the event told their friends about it and recruited more mountain bike riders for the next year. Though the course is not considered technical by mountain biking standards, good bike handling skills are necessary as is good fitness. Many riders struggle to reach the four time check points.
Missing a check point means getting pulled from the race. Missing the 12-hour cut-off time means no coveted belt buckle.
Certainly the event was growing nicely on its own. The first year I entered the event there was a lottery system and not all entrants got into the event. There were 750 entrants, 600 toed the start line. After Lance Armstrong did the event in 2008, the event saw a lot more media attention.
The race not only received more media attention, but it also received more attention from sponsors. The list of sponsors interested in being associated with this event grew. The event attracted the attention of Life Time Fitness owner Bahram Akradi and Life Time Fitness became the title sponsor of the event.
Those familiar with triathlon know that Life Time Fitness was the title sponsor of the first event to pay good prize money to triathletes with the “Equalizer” event. It paid $250,000 to the first male or female across the finish line. Life Time literally changed the pay scale for professional triathletes.
The media attention for the Leadville 100 (LT100) mountain bike race expanded exponentially in 2009 with the release of the film by Citizen Pictures, Race Across the Sky and more Lance Armstrong effect. Suddenly people everywhere around the world wanted entry into this extreme challenge. In the 2010 event there were 1,553 entrants via the lottery system – more than double that of just six years ago. How many racers tried to enter, but were denied entry is uknown but rumored numbers are big.
The LT100 is now faced with what many business owners want - and that is growing pains. Your product is so successful that people are clamoring to get it.
Most people want growth but cannot foresee the problems that growth brings. Successful businesses, and make no mistake this is a business, find ways to solve the problems so the customer (sponsors and racers) remains satisfied with the product.
What are some of the issues that this growing business faces? Below are a few that I gathered after talking with several racers post-event. In no particular order:
Now with all these issues and more that I didn’t mention, it seems that I’m complaining. Not exactly.
You see, I was able to get a personal best time in 2009 because I seeded myself in a good location, was able to descend at a pace that matched my skills and I found great (skilled, fit and experienced) riders to work with on many of the flat sections so I wasn’t solo time trialing in the wind (like this year).
Are there solutions to all the problems?
Of course, but not all riders will be happy with the changes.
This race has the power to inspire a wave of mountain bike enthusiasts like Ironman helped inspire the growth of the sport of triathlon. It can do it with dignity, responsibility for rider safety, and a fair enforcement of rules and standards for all riders. This can grow the sport for everyone at all levels from the individual rider to the businesses behind sport.
Will those things happen?
Time will tell.
To help 100-mile mountain bike racers with some training references, this blog is a good start. Many of the resources can help 100-mile mountain bike racers for any event. Some of the resources are Leadville 100 specific.
First, training plan help.
In my newest book, Training Plans for Cyclists, you will find two foundation fitness training plans. (You can see the table of contents online.) The two foundation fitness plans are designed to help cyclists maintain or improve fitness in the off-season. Often, there are two Levels of training plan presented in the book. Level I is for completion and Level II is more competitive. Level I and Level II descriptions are also relative to event distance. For example, I classify a Level I rider looking at a 100-mile mountain bike race differently than a Level I road rider looking to complete a century. Of course, the event route itself can have a major influence.
The book contains detailed, daily workouts. (Not just general instructions on how to assemble your own plan.) Here are athlete profile descriptions:
Level I Profile (Chapter 19)
The plan in this chapter is designed for a Level I rider. Before beginning the plan, you are riding two or three times per week, indoors or outdoors; but, your workouts are not consistent. It is not a problem for you to ride for an hour, though.
You are looking to build strength, endurance and increase your riding speed. You’d like to begin a weight training program, but don’t know where to begin.
One big issue you have is time. There is never enough time and you don’t have much of it to devote to staying fit. If you can see a training plan that would whip you into shape on three to six hours a week, you’d jump up and down.
Get ready to jump.
(This plan is available in electronic form on TrainingPeaks)
Level II Profile
The plan in this chapter is designed for a Level II cyclist that is riding three or four times per week before beginning the plan. You are currently capable of comfortably completing a two-and-a-half hour ride. Your current long ride is mostly aerobic, but may include a small amount of intensity.
You are looking to build strength, endurance and increase your riding speed for next season. You want a weight training program included in your plan that will deliver on-the-bike speed later.
Your schedule allows you to train six or seven days per week.
(This plan is available in electronic form on TrainingPeaks )
It really doesn’t matter what your season goals are (road vs. mountain) because the foundation fitness plans can be used for preparation for century rides, multi-day tours, short-course mountain bike racing, 24-hour races or 100-mile mountain bike races.
After you have built foundation fitness on your own or used one of the above plans, then you transfer that fitness to a more event-specific plan taking you right up to race day.
Keeping attention focused on just the mountain bike events for now, below are the plan descriptions contained in the book:
Chapter 16, Level I Rider, 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race, 16 Week Plan
Before beginning this plan, you are riding consistently and doing between five and six hours of training each week. Your long ride is around two hours long and it includes some intensity as well as hill riding. At least one other ride during the week contains some intensity. That ride can be an indoor spinning class.
If your current fitness does not meet the description above, begin your training journey in Chapter 19 to build foundation fitness. After the last week of the Chapter 19 training plan, begin with Week 1 of this chapter.
During the week, you are limited to an hour of training on three days. You need two days off for other activities. Additionally, you do not have time to commute to a mountain course, so the training needs to be on an indoor trainer, spin class or a road bike.
Your goal is to comfortably complete a 100-mile mountain bike race. While you want to ride in a time that is as fast as possible, you realize you are restricted for training time. You want the best time, given your limited training time.
(The biggest training week is 13:30. The online version of this)
Chapter 17, Level II Rider, 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race, 14 Week Plan
Before beginning this plan, you are training approximately nine hours per week. You are riding two long rides each week. One ride is around two hours long and the second one is roughly three hours in length.
You are riding two or three other weekday rides that are an hour each. You may or may not be strength training.
This plan is designed to follow the Level II Foundation Fitness training plan found in Chapter 20. After completing 18 weeks of that plan, you can move directly into the plan in this chapter. That combination provides you with 32 weeks of training.
If you are not using the Chapter 20 training plan, review the last few weeks of that training plan. Before beginning this training plan you should be capable of completing those workouts, or similar workouts, both in time and intensity.
Due to the volume of training necessary to complete this plan you will need to focus on recovery as much as you focus on accomplishing the training. Improved performance is accompanied by recovery techniques and high density nutrition. In summary, in addition to completing the training sessions, you need to get adequate rest and eat nutritious foods that fuel a high performance body. Be sure to read Chapter 3 that covers nutrition.
Your goal is to ride a 100-mile mountain bike race in a personal best time. This competitive goal is more than just completing the event, it is competing at the event. The competition may be for a spot on the podium or to beat a past personal record (PR). You want a new PR.
Now that the training portion is covered, below is more information within columns and blogs:
Description of key points and challenges in the Leadville 100 mountain bike race: (Note that the entry numbers are low compared to 2009 because the column was written in 2005):
Description of key training elements to any 100-mile mountain bike race and a few Leadville specifics:
Two-part training-specific interview with Dave Wiens after he beat Lance Armstrong in the 2008 race:
Acclimatizing to altitude before a race:
Altitude training strategies:
Wiens and Williams family photos – for fun
Found here is my personal training plan, unconventional for a mountain bike racer. I will often post what I’m doing for training on this blog, Twitter and Facebook. I also try to answer as many questions as I can on this blog.