24 Hours of Leadville: Race Review

This past weekend I loaded up the Yukon and headed north. The plan – race in the 2nd 24 hour race in the last 14 days. The B.P.R. schedule has three, that’s “3″, 24 hour races in a 28 day period. Yeah, educated coaching says massive ‘recovery’ time is required between serious races. Well, I’m educated, I’m my own coach, I’m never serious and the equation for Back of the Pack FUN says race as often as possible. By the way, ‘recovery time’ is for dudes / dudettes that 1) wear spandex, 2) are trying to make $$ on the circuit (The circuit? what the hell is the circuit? Is there big time cash out there?), 3) haven’t figured out the FUN as defined by Back of the Pack Racing.


OK, I’ll be serious for once. The real reason why I ventured up to north central Colorado is because I had to vacate The Judd’s Pad so the cleaning service could do the deeds. The common B.P.R. Fan may ask ‘Cleaning Service? What’s a Cleaning Service? Who’s the Cleaning Service?” Well, B.P.R. Fan, that’s for me to know and you to find out. Good luck with that! Bet you wish you were me! (You probably don’t.)

Damn (my new favorite word), did I say “I’ll be serious for once”. Well, that will never happen.

Anyway, 24 Hours of Leadville was an interesting race. Entering the race I had ZERO expectations. I just wanted to log some miles and check out the views. Well the race organizers declared that belt buckles would be awarded to Solo Racers that achieved significant mileage. Interesting? I started to pay attention at the racer briefing, since I am a cowboy at heart. (I’m into the lifestyle not the ‘fashion, obviously.) Well, a silver belt buckle is earned with 7 laps and a gold belt buckle is earned with 10 laps. DAMN, you know what this means. My ZERO expectation race just turned into a strategy race. Just want I wanted to avoid. Oh well.

So, I was good to go, the race started at 10AM. The 1st lap was interesting. I didn’t know what to expect. I was concerned about the altitude and the climbing. No big deal for a 50 mile race, but 24 hours? Ouch! Anyway. I tried to block out the ‘Belt Buckle’ and tried to limit my thoughts to cranks revolutions, like 1 million crank revolutions. I was doing good for the 1st 12 hours. I was maintaining a good pace, controlling my thoughts and the fatigue was minor, if not irrelevant. I was actually on track to cruise to a finish with 10 laps. Then at 11PM (13 hours in), near the end of lap 6, my racing world crumbled around me. The ‘freeze out’ hit me again, like it always does. I tried my best to dress light, control the sweating at dusk and limit the ‘freeze out’. 

What’s the freeze out? My own term = the state when a single speeder hits the transition zone after dusk. What usually occurs is a ‘hot & sweaty’ Judd arrives at the transition and almost immediately goes from race mode to survival mode. What? Yeah, Dude! When you stop riding in the middle of the night you cool off fast, so fast the head swells, the body shakes, the mind shuts down.

Ok, back to the story. I was wearing minimal gear but still was dripping wet at mile 10 at the top of the two major climbs – which was at 11,100 feet. The sweat turned to ice during the 7.5 mile coast downhill. (Ok, I’m exaggerating, maybe not.) I raced into my tent and quickly changed into warm riding gear. Well, I was too slow. I started to shake and I got a massive headache. The headache was probably due to my sopping wet hair and the 35 deg temps. I was hurting. As I laid there I tried to block the pain out and I started the calculations. I quickly realized I would not bag 10 laps. Therefore I made a quick decision. Screw the midnight suffer session, wait until the sun rises. An easy AM lap would get me to 7 total and the silver belt buckle. So, the ride was over until the AM. It was probably a good idea. I heard some stories about dudes really suffering. Some ‘popsicle’ was picked up by Search & Rescue. Glad it wasn’t me. (I can’t take those types of risks when I am scheduled to go head-to-head with the Lt Col in two weeks!)

So that’s the story. 

Check out this link for the GPS data and the pics. (A subset is included below, in this post.)


Interesting Data:
I am now a believer in efficient lap transitions. Below are my lap splits and the transitions time. My transitions were a) OK for the initial laps, 1 and 2 – I prepared a number of bottles prior to the race, b) substandard between for lap 4 to 5, I was fumbling around with the lights, c) terrible for lap 5 to 6 – I was changing clothes for the 1st night lap, d) the ‘freeze out’ occurred after lap 6.

I must figure out a method / process to reduce the lap transition times to < 3 minutes – for all laps except the transition which requires mounting lights on the bike & body. The change of clothes is a major issue. I MUST figure out a way to get clean clothes without going into shutdown mode. I have some ideas. I won't share them, just because. 

The basic answer to fast lap transitions is support crew / pit crew that can do the dirty work between laps. I am absolutely convinced that the only way I can survive the night, avoid the freeze out, is to stay on the bike and stay moving. Thus I need a pit crew. I’ll probably initiate an interview process. I hope to find a wicked hot female volunteer – but I’ll pay if I must, like $100 or $200. Damn, that doesn’t sound legal – a wicked hot pit crew that’s working the night for cold hard cash. Oh well.


Lessons Learned & Observations:
  1. Over a series of races I’ve learned that it takes me about 6 hours to settle in and mentally commit to the 24 hr experience.
  2. If it sounds like the rear wheel is falling off… it probably is.
  3. A good meal is always overrated, unless you’re starving to death half way through a 24 hr race.
  4. It’s impossible to regulate the body temperature if a single speeder is tall, ‘filled out’, and wears plaid.
  5. I need a chef – or an IV drip hanging from the sheep. I refuse to cook, I refuse to prepare food. This will be my downfall in 24 hour racing. As proven many times, I can only race for ~ 110 miles before I run out of fuel.
  6. Don’t forget the ‘cream’, again. Back of the Pack Racing suggests dznuts.
  7. Bud Light cans are preferred course marking. Why?
  8. 47 beer cans (44 Bud Light cans) can be found at Bud Light Alley
    • Lat / Long = 39.228991 / -106.2577506
  9. The answer to #8 above: Thugs in Chevy 4x4s, Bud Light in hand, aren’t afraid to run bikers (me) off the ‘road’. And these thugs won’t drop an once of Bud Light during the process. But the thugs will gladly toss the empty Bud Light cans out the window.
  10. Wrist bands suck and the requirement for 3, yes 3, number plates / tags suck. (1 on handlebars, 1 on the frame, 1 on the helmet. That’s 3, yes 3, number plates in a 8 cubic foot area.)
The Video:
Remember, my head ‘bobs’ on the hills. It’s a single speed thing. Also, I included more material with the ‘bobbing’ because I wanted to make specific comments. So, take it easy on me. Save your criticism for something that matters. Actually, save your criticism for someone that cares.

Yeah, and I know that the videos of the hike-a-bike sections are tedious, if not annoying. But I think it’s funny, especially at 400x speed. And that’s all that matters – what I think. And I think it’s fun to laugh (laugh hard) at stupid stuff like the hike-a-bike video – dude!


24 Hours of Leadville – V2 from Judd Rohwer on Vimeo.
Just a few views from a single speed freak


The Course / The Data:
24 Hours of Leadville: The Course
Just the Mountains
The GPS Data: 1 Lap
The Pics:
The Camping, The Mountains
Solo Camping, Cool
The Start, The Hike
A Tired Sheep
A Dale’s Earned with 7 Laps
3rd Place and a Silver Belt Buckle Earned with 7 Laps!
A Good Spot for The TeddNeck!
The Judd Races SOLO and Travels SOLO!
Clouds are Cool!

The Summary:
The 24 Hours of Leadville was a challenge. I learned a few good lessons. If I return next year I’m sure I can bag 10 laps. But will I return next year? I don’t know. The entry fee is astronomical compared to most other 24 hour races, but equivalent to 24 Hours of Moab – which raised the solo fee by $200 this year = $350! And I was not thrilled with the solo area. This is the 1st 24 hour race that had substandard solo staging. There definitely was a solo area, but no cars or anything ‘large’ were allowed. My gear is in my vehicle, sheep #2 is in my vehicle, therefore I need access to my vehicle. Lucky for me, I squeezed my vehicle in Joe’s RV site. (The race organizers wouldn’t let me park in the area reserved for teams – go figure.) Anyway, there are so many options for adequate solo staging, hopefully the race organizers figure it out for 2011. 

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