One of the most demanding mountain bike races in North America takes place today in Leadville, Colorado, where some of the top riders in the world will compete in the legendary Leadville 100 MTB. The race features a course that offers plenty of difficult climbs made all the more challenging due to the altitude at which the event takes place.
The Leadville 100 MTB was first held back in 1994 and over the years grew in popularity amongst the hardcore mountain biking community. The event, which was the subject of a 2010 documentary film entitled “Race Across The Sky,” gained a much wider audience in 2008 when seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong decided to compete. Armstrong came in second behind six-time defending champ Dave Wiens, but returned in 2009 to avenge the loss, crushing the old course record in the process. His participation in the Leadville 100 led to other pro riders joining the race in 2010 and 2011 and what was once a great event for amateur riders has now grown into a much larger affair.
The starting line for the course is located in downtown Leadville, which sits at an altitude of 10,200 feet. From there, riders will begin a 50-mile out and back ride that features over 14,000 total feet of climbing, going as high as 12,424 feet. It is a grueling test of endurance and skill that requires as much mental strength as it does physical. Fast pro riders will finish the race in around six and a half hours, but most riders will come in much later than that.
If mountain biking isn’t your thing and you’d rather hit the trail on foot, next week Leadville plays host to the Leadville Trail 100 Run, a 100-mile long ultra-marathon that is even more grueling than the bike ride. Personally, I’ll stick with the bike.
[Photo courtesy Leadville 100 MTB]