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Rach McBride Blog: Podiums, naps and preparation for Leadville 100

Soon I will be taking on the second mountain bike race of my life…just a little thing called the Leadville 100. You may have heard of it! When I accepted a spot on the Lifetime Grand Prix (LGP) circuit, little did I realize that I would be jumping into the depths of endurance mountain bike racing with one of the greatest in the world. Despite my rookie status, I feel pretty well prepared for this one.

Stop #2 for me on the Lifetime Grand Prix was the brutal Crusher in the Tushar, a 69.9-mile gravel race starting in Beaver, Utah. Just 112km felt like a walk in the park compared to Unbound 200’s 320km.

Inspired by how hard my fellow competitors had to ride to finish on top in Emporia, Kansas, I approached this race a little differently: attack the first climb and try to stay ahead of the race for as long as possible. The risk: exploding on the second climb and limping through the relentless final miles to the mountaintop finish. The reward: seeing what kind of fitness this tiger really had…and maybe just surprising myself.

My strategy paid off. My heart rate skyrocketed for the first hour as I tried to keep the leaders in sight. After that, I settled into the grind to reach the top after two hours and begin the sketchy descent. Unfortunately, I slipped on one of the bobby pins while what appeared to be my “earth nap” saga in progress and fell. Luckily, I only had a sore and bloody elbow and knee to contend with; my bones and my bike came out unscathed. I was in awe of riders with better bike-handling skills who raced down the mountain like it was no big deal. Seriously, how the hell do they do that? !

Once on the HOT sidewalk leading up to the next 30 miles uphill, I gratefully stepped into a line of pace with fellow LGP rider Melissa Rollins, who warned me that the next section “sucks”. And suck did. Times were close to the 90s, and as the terrain got higher it got bumpy, sandy and slippery. This is where the mental toughness really had to come in. I tried to keep up with the runners ahead of me and used the upcoming pit station as a carrot to keep me going on what looked like a snail’s pace.

With my hydration bladder filled and a pitcher of cold water dumped over my head (THANK YOU, amazing volunteers!), I turned back on the sketchy bobby pins that had claimed some of my skin on the way down, happily surprised that I I was indeed still able to raise my heart rate and “hold the pain” without my quadriceps giving out or cramping.

Make no mistake once at the top of this two hour climb. The last six miles of Crusher will break you if you haven’t prepared or saved a bit for the final steep sections to the ski resort. Grinding out of the saddle at 40rpm on what felt like a 20% incline, staring at the ground ahead of me, sweat pouring into my eyes, I gave all the gas left in my tank to reach that dash line. arrived in just under 5 hours and 20min. It was enough to make me 8th in the LGP standings and some much needed points in the overall standings. I also got my own non-binary podium, as I was the only competitor from NB this year. I would love to see more non-binary athletes take on this beast of a race in 2023!

After Crusher, I’ve been BUSY racing, including an outstanding bike-swim race at the PTO Canadian Open Triathlon. I also just won the IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder last weekend, potentially making me the oldest (ahem) 70.3 champion in history. In between those triathlons, I took part in the Leadville MTB Stage Race to see what I would get into. It was the absolute perfect course recognition for Leadville 100 as it is precisely the 100 course split into three days.

On the first day, my trainer told me to take it easy and stay safe. Unfortunately this ATV newbie had no idea what tire pressure to run and ended up taking another nap in the dirt with a whopping 35 psi in my tires. Let’s just say I learned my lesson. After slipping and slipping the first day giving me even more sore rashes on my other elbow, hitting my knee pretty hard and spending the evening crying in my hotel room, I checked in the next day with a more reasonable set of bikes. -up and with the green light to turn it on.

Days 2 and 3 were an absolute blast and gave me a good idea of ​​the WTAF I will have to endure in a single day. I learned what everyone was talking about about the steep Columbine and Powerline climbs that will come many hours into this race. I learned that I could race in the mix with two seasoned mountain bikers and fellow LGP racers Kristen Legan and Crystal Anthony. Once again, I walked away with the non-binary overall victory, because well… I was the only one! Kudos to the organizers of the Leadville Trail Series who have consistently provided equal recognition, rewards and prizes to leaders in all three categories.

This race also showed me how special Leadville and its community are. The warm welcome, the appreciation from all participants and the generous support the race offers to the youth and residents of Leadville is truly inspiring. It’s easy to see how this race has become legendary in many ways. I’m very proud to have the opportunity to take part in the Leadville 100 for what could be one of the most epic races of my life.