The Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race Takes Place Today

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]

Race Across The Sky 2010” from Citizen Pictures on Vimeo.

National Geographic reveals spring/summer gear of the year

In what has become an annual rite of spring, National Geographic Adventure has released their list of picks for their Gear of the Year for the 2011 spring/summer seasons. The list arrives just ahead of the warmer months, when outdoor enthusiasts are looking for durable, dependable, yet lightweight, gear to accompany them on their summertime adventures.

The Gear of the Year list is a diverse one, offering up all kinds of suggestions on how to spend your hard-earned cash. Whether you’re in the market for a new backpack, tent or sleeping bag, you’ll find excellent options here. You’ll also find cameras, watches, and other high tech travel gear as well, not to mention footwear for just about any outdoor activity you can think of.

Some of the gear that earned a spot on the list include the Hornet 46 backpack from Osprey, which is lightweight, comfortable, and versatile. Basically everything you could want in weekend pack. If you’re in the market for a tent, Nat Geo recommends the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3, which is the perfect summer shelter for two people plus their gear. Want to hit the trail on a mountain bike? The Yeti 575 Enduro gets the nod, while the Giant Defy Advanced 3 takes home the honors for those who prefer to stay on the road.

This is just a sample of some of the gear that made Nat Geo’s list, but there are plenty more suggestions where these came from. If you’re in the market for some new gear for your outdoor adventures this summer, then you’ll definitely want to give this article a look. You may even find an item or two you didn’t even know you needed!

Mountain biker set to ride up Everest

In the world of high altitude mountaineering, there are few challenges bigger than Mt. Everest. Standing 29,029 feet in height, it is the tallest peak on the planet, remaining unclimbed until 1953 when Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay finally reached the summit. Since then, literally hundreds of climbers have stood on top of the mountain, but not a single mountain biker has ever managed to conquer it. One man hopes to change all that this year.

Bob “Gnarly” Goldstein has been riding mountain bikes for years. The 45-year old copier salesman from Topeka, Kansas says he just prefers them over other kinds of bikes, saying they are simply more comfortable to ride and “they can go anywhere!” Bob has taken his trusty Huffy Cyclone on a number of local trails and on vacation with him to Colorado, where it not only helped him to get around Boulder, but allowed him to enjoy the mountain scenery as well. Soon, he’ll turn his sights on the biggest mountain of them all.

With April now upon us, mountaineers and trekkers are descending on the capital of NepalKathmandu. The city is the last stop before heading into the Himalaya and Bob, and his trusty bike arrived there just yesterday. Soon he’ll begin his tune-up ride to Everest Base Camp, located at 17,600 feet. Once there, the real challenge will begin, as he intends to pedal all the way to the summit.

Goldstein knows that his task won’t be an easy one. He’ll have to navigate through the dreaded Khumbu Icefall, riding his Huffy across ladders precariously placed over crevasses in the glacier. Once on the other side, he’ll start the long, slow, grueling climb up the South Col and eventually to the top. “I’m pretty sure I’ll only be using the first three gears,” he says.While most climbers carry backpacks stuffed with layers of warm clothing, crampons, carabiners, and other climbing gear, Bob will have a few other items in his pack. He’ll be carrying spare inner tubes, a small tire pump, and special tools for changing a flat on the slopes. When asked by an incredulous Sherpa where he intended to carry his oxygen bottles, Goldstein replied “Duh! I have two bottle cages right on my bike dude!”

Bob says that he has been training his whole life for this opportunity. He regularly tackles some of the bigger hills in his home town, and his recent rides have gotten him off the pavement and onto the dirt trails as well. He’s even been practicing changing flat tires as quickly as possible, as the biting winds and sub-zero temperatures on Everest can turn those kinds of activities into brutal endeavors. Goldstein says he has no intention of losing a finger or toe due to frostbite, brought on by fixing a flat.

And after he suffers through all the pain and challenges of getting to the summit, Bob will be in for the ride of his life. He says he’s looking forward to “bombing” back down the mountain, and “catching big air” off the Hillary Step. “Which reminds me,” he adds hesitantly, “I need to go check my breaks.”

Good luck Bob! We’re cheering for you.

Flip winter the bird with a great adventure travel contest!

The holidays are long past, you’re back at the daily grind, and the country has been dumped on with way to much snow. Admit it, you’re sick of winter already and could use an adventurous escape. Fortunately, I’ve got just what you need in the form of a travel contest that will let you flip the bird at winter.

Adventure travel company Sacred Rides has joined forces with GoPro Cameras, to send one lucky winner, and a companion, on a week long mountain biking holiday through Central or South America. The winner of the Flip Winter The Bird Contest gets to choose between Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, or Argentina as their destination, and then they’ll be off to explore the many great singletrack options that the country has to offer. The various options include mountain biking of course, but in Mexico the trip will also offer regular yoga workouts as well. In Guatemala, the riders will get a taste of Mayan culture, while a visit to Chile gives them a chance to surf the Pacific Coast. Argentina makes it a multi-sport adventure by adding whitewater rafting to the itinerary as well.

To enter the contest, simply go to this page and fill out the form. Those entering must be at least 18 years of age and entries are being accepted until the end of the day on February 11th.

Sacred Rides is a travel company that specializes in organizing mountain biking excursions across the globe. Besides offering rides at the destination in this contest, they also offer trips to Peru, Canada, Eastern Europe, and more. If you’re looking for a unique cycling adventure for your next vacation, perhaps a sacred ride might be in order.

[Photo credit: Andy Armstrong via WikiMedia]

24-Hours of Moab mountain bike race begins today

Ever wonder what it would be like to ride a mountain bike across a scenic, but challenging, course for 24 hours straight? Me neither! But that’s exactly what competitors in the 24-Hours of Moab mountain bike race are preparing to do when the event gets underway today at noon local time in Moab, Utah. As you can probably deduce from the name, the ride won’t end until noon tomorrow, after a very long, and grueling, day in the saddle for the riders.

Racers are allowed to compete in three categories, riding as an individual or part of a two or four person relay team. If they are part of a team, they’ll be allowed to switch out from time to time and get some much needed rest. The individuals will have it the toughest however, riding solo while trying to accumulate as many laps as possible before the 24 hour cut off.

The course is a challenging one for sure. Consisting mostly of old jeep trails, the route winds its way through the scenic backcountry that Utah is so famous for, ensuring that the riders will at least have something beautiful to look at along the way. Not that they’ll have time to notice however, as some of the bigger drops will have them rushing down hills at over 40 mph, as they carefully pick their lines hoping to avoid danger along the way. The entire route is just 15 miles in length, and the top riders will be able to finish laps in under an hour, but the more than 1360 feet of vertical gain on each lap will have their legs crying out for mercy. Especially when it is the middle of the night and they’ve already been riding for more than 12 hours straight.

The race has been going on for 15 years now, and during that time it has earned itself a reputation as one of the top endurance mountain biking events in the world. This year, there will be more than $20,000 in cash, and another $15,000 in prizes, up for grabs, although for most of the riders it is all about the fun and camaraderie of the event.

[Photo credit: Xavi Fane]