It is hard to believeAugust 2, 2012
It is hard to believe that many, many years ago this town was a booming mining region with 60,000 people roaming the streets and calling Leadville home.
Today, the heart of this quaint little mountain town keeps beating because of the cycling, running and outdoor activity that keeps all of us athletes coming back for more. With a population that may reach 2,600, the Leadvillains love their town and are always happy to welcome you back with a smile.
For the past three years, this place has become an annual destination for me. Yes, it is the Leadville 100 that initially carved the path to lead me here, but it has become so much more than that for me and now Leadville 100 or not...I will always be coming back to this place.
Whenever you roll into town, the first place you always head is back home (well, that is what I do) and when I arrive into Leadville, it is no different. I immediately head to 7th and Alder Street and smile when I see the little welcome sign hanging outside of the hostel.
The moment I walk in the door, I walk into the living room and there is “Coach” sitting in his chair as he works on another one of his wooden sticks. Then I take a look across the living room and look at the dining room table where I know who I will see next...good old Art, working on his computer, probably checking out his ride data or the course or answering some questions to the first timers of the Leadville 100. And across of him will probably be Carl who is siting at the computer, recovering or getting ready for his ride. Then, as I am standing in the living room, I see Prospector Jon talking with his wife Heidi who has little Domino standing so obediently at their side. And of course, while all of this is going on, Wild Bill and Cathy will come out of the office and greet me with big hugs and a welcome back into their home while out of the kitchen will come Howard who will begin hassling me about something, probably the fact that I don’t eat his food or asking me about going back out to shoot some guns or wondering why I didn’t mount my deer antler trophy to the hood of my car yet. All the regulars of the hostel during this time of year begin popping up and the commotion and craziness begins and I know that I am back home and I could not be happier.
I am not a hostel connoisseur by any means, my experience range is only a few, but I am confident to say that it is the best and has to be on your list of stops. The place itself, the feeling of home and the people are amazing. I have met some of the most incredible people from all walks of life in this little home and I look forward to being back there from the moment I leave.
The other week I was there and the purpose of this stay was the CTS Leadville training camp. It was back to back to back days on the course and getting to know every inch of it. Every year CTS has a 2 day training camp where athletes who have the goal of tackling and dominating the 100 race come to get guidance, knowledge of the course and insider tips from the best. It is my second year to join in with them on this camp and it is always so fun and refreshing to ride with them, meet new people, hear their stories and just have some good riding company while we are all out there suffering together. The days became a routine where we would wake up at the crack of dawn, meet up in the freezing cold, head out for our ride, get back in the afternoon, have some food, jump in the lake for some recovery and rest up for the next day that would be a repeat. We were living the Carmichael mantra of “Eat, Sleep, Ride, Repeat.”
Outside of my riding I had to make my regular stops which included Tennessee Pass Cafe where I typically opt for their fish tacos. Another stop is the bike shop, Cycles of Life, where they always help me out and of course the Leadville shop which is right across the street. A couple of other regulars is my 13 mile Mineral Belt Recovery ride which I absolutely love because it is an easy soft pedal on an incredibly gorgeous bike path loop that I get to share with friends and use as time to catch up and chat. On one of my first days there, I shared this loop with my good friend Gracie and on my last day I was heading out and recruited both Carl and my good friend Mike to join me. One thing that people do not understand about me is that when I say I have a recovery ride...I mean recovery ride in every sense of the word. And when Carl took us on a little detour to share with us a little bit of the Leadville trails outside of the 100 course, I had to laugh and tell him that I might have to ban him from my recovery rides as he was making us gain more elevation than I was wanting. But, he insisted that it would be well worth it....and I would have to agree that it was.
Oh, and I almost forgot, this time I think a new tradition was started when Howard from the Hostel took both me and Gracie on a little adventure. We got in his truck, drove 5 miles up the road, parked and watched him set-up a target and pull out both his guns...big guns. Well, very big guns. I am not sure that I got it right, but one was a 4570 (?) and an AK47 (?). Yes, I did shoot both and the bigger one was shot only once because although I hit the target...it hurt not only my ears, but my shoulder. I am not an expert at shooting guns or anything, but I am proud to say that I hit the target with every shot I took! Watch out...biathlon, here I come! (That is my dream sport for those of you who didn't know...cross-country skiing and shooting guns.)
As you can see, Leadville has become kind of like this special little gathering place for me and on Monday I will be heading back up there for another full week to get ready for another go at the Leadville 100. Next Saturday I will be standing at the line with 2,000 other racers who have butterflies fluttering in their stomach as we are shivering, trying to stay warm at 6:30 in the morning before the big bazooka gun thing is shot in the air. It will be a long and hard day, but it will be a good day and I am so excited about it and this year I will have both of the Bostrom Brothers joining me out there...go ShoAir!
One more thing...both Jane and myself have decided that next year we would enter the Burro race during Boom Days. Yes, I did say Burro race. It is a foot race where you have to take your Burro on this 13 mile or so course and Chris Carmichael said that he would find us one and train it for us. Chris, I am holding you to that and Janer...no backing out!