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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In training for Leadville 100, do people do 10,000+ ft mountain bike days? How often in the 3 months prior to the event would one do such a ride?

What is a good benchmark to know if one can be competitive (i.e., earn a belt buckle, either one)?

I have access to trainers with powermeters, is there a 1-hr or 4-hr power level (i.e., 200 watts, 300 watts, etc) that means anything - i.e., "don't even try Leadville until you can hold 300 watts for an hour or 200 for 4 hrs" (realizing of course that leadville is a lot longer than that, just trying to find benchmarks).

Let me ask the question in an even more open-ended way - sitting on the couch how does one know when/if one is ready to try the race? Emphasis on the couch :).

Thanks!
 

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For what it's worth from an old slow guy.

I've done Leadville 5 times and finished 4 in under 12, my best time is 11:18. I'm 53.

So, as you can tell, I'm not fast - just like to have a goal to make me feel like I'm still alive.

I've averaged about 8 hours per week of some form of riding, weights, skiing, hiking, etc. for the past 6 or seven years. As I've gotten older, I've found that I do as well by focusing more on "quality" training rather than spending more time just for the sake of it. It just takes longer to recover...

During the winter, I get out once a week for 3 - 5 hours on the weekend - weather permitting. When possible, a night ride here and there. Otherwise, it's in the dungeon or out skiing when the snow's good.

In the Spring, into Summer, I try to get in a 5 hour ride at least once a week, with as much climbing as possible. I do a couple of shorter races (up to 50 miles)- in May - June. I do a bunch of road riding as well, with a couple of 7-8 hour rides with over 10,000 feet of climbing leading up to August.

In August, I start dialing back the total time, but also try to keep the intensity up - short hill repeats, etc.

In the past when I've traveled alot, I've used spining classes, etc. as a way to keep getting some training in when I couldn't get to a bike.

My biggest mountain bike days in the summer tend to be around 5 k of climbing.

Obviously, my schedule isn't ideal to be fast or competitive, but it usually has gotten me to the finish before the shotgun goes off. Use your training to figure out hydration, nutrition, and how to fix problems you run into (how to keep moving through cramps, fixing flats, broken chains, bad weather, etc.).

With the excitement and motivation of race day, you should be able to easily exceed your longest training day. If you get to Leadville feeling confident that you can keep moving no matter what gets thrown your way, you've got a big part of the battle done.

My one 12+ hour finish was partially due to having 2 flats. But, I don't like to use that as an excuse, because you have to figure there will always be something you don't expect - flats, broken chains, bad weather, cramps or other health issues, etc. You just have to build those things into your calculations.

Re: benchmarks: I was told that over 3 watts/kg at lactate threshold should allow an 11 - 12 hour finish.
 

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@chuckred, LightMiner

Well, chuckred, at first I have to congratulate. Finishing such a awful, long race is always great; it is perfectly clear that not everybody can do that. And, as I can see, your training-result-ratio is really good. Go on, man!

LightMiner, if you really would like to enjoy the race without collapsing or damaging your body, you need to train one year minimum with a system, you should go to a doctor making a heart check and then to a training scientist making a sophisticated, individual training program. As chuckred said, you HAVE to do long tours, 7-8 hours.
 

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I've done it once in 2008- 10:18. My advice is to train harder than you think you need to. Why ride it in 12 hours when you can ride it in 10? The race is difficult because of the altitude-not the distance itself. It is like running stairs while breathing through a snorkel. The longer you sit on your bike, the worse you feel. Might as well stuff in the 3-4 extra hours of training per week, and be off the bike an hour or two earlier than you thought. You can wisely use the extra time to buy your wife something nice after the race and salvage your marriage. 10 hours per week of training is a strain on marital bliss, so watch out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yeah, I do 7-8 hr exercise things all the time. Most frequently I do 6 hrs - that is my normal routine, but I've done as much as 16 hrs, and done that probably 100 times over the last 15 years - mostly associated with 14ers or other mountaineering activities. Biking I usually max out at around 12 hrs or so (quite a few times at Henry Coe or Sun Valley) because I prefer not to bike at night (was really fun when younger!). Although I have been using NiteRider lights about as long as they've been in business. Hiking isn't so bad at night as long as you have a good moon.

Hmmm... Its interesting, you ask a question, everyone assumes you really don't know anything since you asked a question as opposed to you just not knowing the difference between 'what you do know' and 'the answer' you are looking for. Just for fun, assume I'm not a newbie and have some clue about endurance athletics!

Marathon runners only do so many marathons in a year because of the toll it takes. You don't train for a 14k race by doing 14k. So I'm wondering, absent going out and doing a 14k bike ride how one can tell if/when they are in range for completing the race in good form. So for example, if one can do 3 5k foot days in a week, maybe that means you are ready, 2 10k foot days 3 days apart, I don't know, something like that. Chuckred indicated a power level that would need to be maintained and other good info. I didn't think people would have such a hard time actually answering this question!

Chuckred - thanks for actually answering the question! Your info is helpful. I didn't know your answer would be so unique. [Bpeery - you wrote in while I was typing - so this is an 'edit'. Thanks for the info!]

MrSJ - *you* go see a doctor :). Ask him if it is okay to spend as long as you do on the crapper. (okay, okay, everyone relax. Just having fun. :). But I've got to pushback a little here with all the lame responses so far, no? )
 

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The only helpful benchmark i know of to determine Leadville 100 readiness is by racing in the Firecracker 50 race in July in Colorado. 50 miles, starts at 9600 feet of elevation with over 10K of climbing and almost all singletrack. 5-6hrs of pretty intense riding would be the simulated effort on a powertap I guess. Most people that show up for that event are training for the Leadville and feel that it is an accurate gauge for at least finishing the race. If you can hop off the couch and finish that one, you'll finish the Leadville. Good luck with your training and I hope you get in to the Leadville.
 

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Mr.SJ said:
@chuckred, LightMiner

Well, chuckred, at first I have to congratulate. Finishing such a awful, long race is always great; it is perfectly clear that not everybody can do that. And, as I can see, your training-result-ratio is really good. Go on, man!

LightMiner, if you really would like to enjoy the race without collapsing or damaging your body, you need to train one year minimum with a system, you should go to a doctor making a heart check and then to a training scientist making a sophisticated, individual training program. As chuckred said, you HAVE to do long tours, 7-8 hours.
you do not know this person, how can you make such recommendations?

we're not called training scientists. what does this even mean? :confused:
 

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Like Chuckred, I'm 53. I have 6 Leadville starts, 6 finishes, 4 beltbuckles.

My only training parameters: (I live at sea level)

1) Be able to road cycle 100 miles REALLY EASILY in 5:30 or better 2 weeks prior
2) HR monitor intervals once a week (100% max HR X 10 secs X 6-10 intervals) for 2 monthes prior.
3) Stay in Leadville/Copper Mountain/Frisco for at least 8 days prior to the race.

I'm sure there are many variations, but I think the intervals actually do the most to
improve my time over the years - best was 10:24
 

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Based on what you've said, I'd say go for it. If you know how you do at 14 k feet, and how you feel after 12 hours, you've got the two biggest variables figured out.

I agree with bpeery - would love to knock off the extra hour of suffering and get in quicker! Will be gunning for it again this year!
 

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i remember jeff kerkove said in another thread he did it a little over 8hrs with an FTP (1 hr power) of a little under 300 watts. but he's also specializes in endurance events, and does a lot of training at altitude. so some roadie who rides all out for an hour at sea level everyday and has the same FTP probably wouldn't have the same results.

i've also read a couple places (but forget where)...that for training for endurance events, it's not really ideal to be riding the same distance as the event that often. it takes too long to recover from a 100+ mile day and its too draining on your body, and thus it'd be better to string 50 mile days together, or do a 6hr ride on a weekend. certainly at some point prior to the event it'd be good to go out and do the distance, to know you can do it...and know what its like to spend that long on a bike.

fwiw....i've done 80 miles of the course in 8hrs with a fully loaded camelback (only skipped the last 20 because it was october, getting cold/dark at 5 o'clock...and i needed to drive 2+ hours home). doubt my FTP was higher than 250 watts, at 185lbs. and off the top of my head, i had only ridden ~700 miles total in the previous 10 months due to winter & wrist surgery, and a lot of it was on a road bike (easy to get mileage)....and only two of those rides were over 60 miles or 5000 feet of climbing. currently on a 40-50 mile ride with 4-5k of climbing i'll average 11mph.

if i get in through the lottery, my personal goal is to break 9hrs on a singlespeed. pretty confident i can do that with a winter of base miles, and a spring/summer of solid training (intervals, long miles, other races...whatever)

i think everyone who's like "ahhh...go see a doctor first, you gotta train 10 hours a week for x amount of months before you can consider breaking 14hrs...yatta yatta" needs to grow a pair. it's not that hard. you're not gonna die by trying. and if by some random heart malfunction you do....at least it'll be on a mountain bike doing something you love.
 

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LightMiner said:
In training for Leadville 100, do people do 10,000+ ft mountain bike days?
I did Leadville 2 yrs ago. Finished right at the 8 hr mark...about 22nd overall. If you can get to altitude to do some training, it will help. I would guess that 70-80% of the folks racing Leadville live below altitude. I live at 5,000 ft and did some weekend trips to ride the Leadville course. Also went to other locations in Colorado do some 'high' training. For example, a three day weekend in Breck and a 100 mile road bike day riding Trail Ridge Rd in RMNP.

Example....

LightMiner said:
How often in the 3 months prior to the event would one do such a ride?
I was training around 9,000 ft and higher at least 2 weekends a month leading up to the race. As mentioned above, this included day trips to Leadville, Breckenridge, Salida, etc, etc.

LightMiner said:
What is a good benchmark to know if one can be competitive (i.e., earn a belt buckle, either one)?
Do some other 100 mile races around your area. Maybe a 12 hour solo race. If you can get through these events feeling good and pulling off a good result, I would think you would do pretty well at Leadville.

LightMiner said:
I have access to trainers with powermeters....
Powermeters are priceless. If you know how to use it and train with it...BONUS! If not, hire a coach who can focus your power training towards Leadville. I use LW Coaching. I use a SRM on my road bike...and train on my road bike about 80% of the time. You need to get your FTP as high as you can. Interesting thing about Leadville is how altitude effects your performance. Your 90% effort at sea level will only be like 70-80% at 10,000 ft. You go red line with your effort....there is no going back. The time to start gearing up for Leadville is now. Give yourself plenty of time to achieve top fitness.

Good luck with the training!
 

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Nomit-have you figured out how to gear your singlespeed for the Leadville? I would love to try it on a single as well, but do you gear down to ride the flats or up to climb Columbine/Powerline? Sub-9 is hard enough on a geared bike and pushing my singlespeed up those climbs or spun out on the flats seems too slow to go below 9 hours.
 

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i did it on a 2:1 that time. but if i were to go again, i'd go a notch below (easier) than that. 32:17 or 34:19 or something. for me at least, the columbine climb is too steep to do in a 2:1 and not basically blow up. i'd glady exchange doing 100rpm for a couple sections in the middle to go up columbine more efficiently and have more energy for the rest of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
This is great - just the kind of stuff I was looking for. I knew this kind of conversation could take place. Thanks Jeff, everyone! I will ponder all of this - lots of family stuff going on right now - will respond again in a day or two. Great conversation.

The 100 mile road time at 5:30 - how many feet of climbing is in that?

And Jeff - so you're saying "I was training around 9,000 ft and higher at least 2 weekends a month leading up to the race." - just to make sure as it can be read either way - you are both biking at altitude and doing rides at least 2 weekends a month with a delta of 9k feet (making sure the 9k reference isn't absolute altitude but the delta)? That is exactly the kind of info I was looking for.

Hey - another overall question - I've heard officially the ride is supposed to be 14k feet, but a couple of people with altitude meters report it closer to 10k after doing it. That is a huge difference, what do you guys think about the real total climbing feet numbers? On Wikipedia it says 15.6k feet of delta over whole ride.
 

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32x17 may be too much gear to ride up Columbine for me at least. That's a tough nut to crack-ride up Columbine at the expense of a long spin back home on the flats? Which is faster? Grunting up Columbine in a harder rear cog and cover the flats faster, or climb with an easier cog and spin? Maybe spinning on the rollers/plat section will rest your legs for powerline and the final push home. Interesting question. I'll keep building up my new Vassago and my legs and wait for the snow to melt.
 
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