Delivering the Goods
Delivering the Goods
For the 6th year in a row, Rebecca Rusch was coming to Leadville to race her bike in the LT100. This time it would be very different. She spent the last 9 months writing her first book, "Rusch to Glory." This daunting task was all consuming not allowing her enough time to train to give 110% in a race that she respects immensely. Recognizing that she may not be fit enough to challenge for the win but knowing she has the goods to help someone else reach their PR of under 9hrs giving them the coveted large gold belt buckle. She approached a friend who has tried 9 other times to meet this goal with no avail. The idea was that she would pace them throughout the race. So a few weeks before the big race, Lisa Nelson (aka The Hammer) was the lucky guinea pig. In some ways, Lisa felt like she had won the lottery. In other ways, she wasn't exactly sure she was up to the challenge, after all, her past PR was 9:27:00. Where would she shave off 30 minutes? She already felt that she had been on the ropes to achieve that time but Lisa was game to make this the magical year.
Rebecca was also coming to Leadville for two other reasons: to deliver some training clinics mostly on logistics that can certainly change the event for anyone. Her sessions focused on pacing, nutrition, hydration, climbs, flats and everything in between to reach the finish line as quickly as possible. Her other purpose was to launch her book "Rusch To Glory" coming out in October. Leadville holds a very special place in her heart, so she wanted to do a pre-release of the book to people that know her and understand her passion for riding a bike.
Both of those events went very well, therefore the only goods left to delivered was getting The Hammer across the finish line with a sub 9hr time.
Many people were anxious and very excited to watch the race unfold. Something was telling me that if The Queen of Pain teamed up with someone that goes by the name of The Hammer, something special would transpire.
It's safe to say, if anyone can "deliver the goods" The Queen of Pain can. The following is a photo essay on how the day unfolded.
Just a reminder of The Queen of Pain's task for the day.
In years past, Rebecca would have gotten the wheels rolling at the sound of the shotgun. This year was going to be different. The smoke from the shotgun would be completely gone before she would even think of rolling the bike forward.
The front end of the race is heading up the first rise and the Red Corral group where Rebecca and Lisa are starting from is still sitting on main street. Not being in the front means the racers really need to pay attention not to end their race before it even begins by entangling handlebars and going down.
The Queen of Pain descending with confidence enjoying herself in this year's "Different Leadville Experience.
The Hammer looks quite comfortable chasing after Rebecca down the spine of Powerline. Apparently descending is one of Lisa's weakness, it looks like she took great notes during some of the training sessions.
Who do you think is having more fun, the guy flying the drone or the racers making their way through heavy traffic in a dust cloud?
With this look it may be obvious where The Hammer got her name.
Riding bike is always fun. #ridelikeagirl
The Queen of Pain enjoying the ride.
Aid Stations/Feed zones can be a huge time sucker. When the duo got to Twin Lakes they were right on the time split for that portion of the race, no time to waste. Rebecca and Lisa had different crews helping them. The very experienced Greg Martin is always Rebecca's right hand man so he has the feed zones dialed to the T. Rebecca's job during the race was to manage the pace. The most challenging time to do that is when riders are off their bikes and in different locations.
They got it all sorted out fairly quickly. Lisa headed out and Rebecca was quick to realize that had happened and tracked her down to head up the Columbine climb.
Having gained some time going up and down Columbine the duo quickly goes thru this feed zone without stopping. Rebecca does sense that Lisa might need a few encouraging words as they head off to Twin Lakes. They have no time to waste if the sub 9 is to happen.
Rebecca drops back a bit so they can ride side by side and regroup for the next little climb to Twin Lakes and beyond.
Inbound Pipeline climb is a deceiving little stretch, not super steep, but enough to task the already tightening legs. It is also the only single track section on the cross so it requires a bit more focus. Lisa is a solid climber so she leads the pain train. Selene Yeager has now joined in on the action. Selene is a very good friend with Rebecca and co-author of "Rusch to Glory." This is her first LT100 and she broke the 9 hr barrier. Nice work Selene.
The word was out that Rebecca and Lisa were working on the sub 9 hrs so racers around them were glad to see them since they were striving for the same goal.
Inbound Powerline climb which Lisa and Rebecca can both ride their bikes up it without getting off and that ladies and gents is not a small feat. Riding through this bottle neck was not really an option. At this point in the race the body is pretty beat up so mental toughness is what needs to really kick in. A hiccup like this bottleneck can be the cracking moment, fortunately it was not, but it would need to be managed correctly.
The Hammer is one tough cookie. She musters up a smile before digging way deep again. The smile is good because it allows the body to relax for the moment.
Task at hand is digging way deep and keeping the legs moving.
The Queen of Pain's experience in adventure racing is being put the test. She not only has to manage what her body is feeling like at this point but also needs to keep The Hammer pushing hard as they will be forced to walk up Powerline instead of ride. The Hammer has been riding deep in the pain cave for some time now. The eyes behind the Smith Optics are different than in the past when the look has been #IWILLWHATIWANT and now it's more a look of strategizing the next move to keep them on track time wise. For instance, where to pull over and regroup with Lisa? Knowing that it's important to give Lisa some space as she is working though the halls of the pain cave. Also knowing that although space is important, not too much space, because as teammates in endurance situations its always important to feel a sense of contact.
Rebecca is working through her own pain while the pain cave is full behind her.
Wondering how steep Powerline is, IT"S STEEP!!!
Contact being regained but not much is exchanged just some encouraging and action words are shared.
There is a bit of a relief in the pitch but it just keeps going. OUCH
The Moment of Truth - they crushed the sub 9 coming is at 8:39:00. It was an unbelievable day of perseverance and realizing when you think you can't, you can do a bit more. The Queen of Pain knows that very well, that's why she was confident that she could deliver the goods if whoever she worked with wanted the goods bad enough.
The smiles will be cherished, pain is temporary but the satisfying feelings of giving it your all last forever.
Truly a "Different Leadville Experience" for both of these ladies. They achieved their goals and in the end they both delivered the goods. Congratulations!!!
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