Monday, August 17, 2009

The Race in the Sky

I like to ride my bike. Apparently so does Lance. Here is my theory: Lance raced Leadville not only to conquer what he didn’t last year but because he truly loves the sport and the competition. He proved he can win at one of the hardest mountain bike races in the world. Leadville definitely has a lot of double track (at least I think it does) and a perfect venue for a perfectly trained cyclist. Lance beat the record and won the race but he did it in a different way. He rode 55 miles by himself and you won’t see that happen often. That is a record all by itself. Most of the time you see someone winning within the last 4 or 5 miles and sprint to the finish. What an impressive victory to win the way he did. I wonder if anyone could do that on the road.

One thing is for sure, Lance is doing something positive about the sport that is great. He is helping our sport because he loves it and feels good about it. We don’t see the best road cyclists racing mountain bikes for a few reasons.

He is giving back to the sport like nobody else has done – for cycling in general – he has done more than anyone else has ever done. (Do I need to say that again?) I will cheer him on next year for the Tour de France. I might even go to France just to see it.

So what about my ride? The bad luck that I had in Kamloops followed me to Colorado. I had a lot of anger in me coming into the Leadville race. After loosing any chance in a podium position at Kamloops I was ready for a good result and I felt good. Really good. I knew it was a big race not only for the 100 miles or the altitude or the competition, but the potential exposure because Lance was there and so I wanted more than anything to be on that podium with him.

In my whole career, I have never put that much effort into training and preparing for the high altitude. I can’t even remember deliberately preparing like this for any other race before – even the Olympics qualifiers. As a sea-level resident I have always suffered at the altitude races and I felt this race was an important step in my career and integral for continuing for the next few years. Oh yes I am disappointed – beyond belief. I wanted the proof to myself for seeing how fast I could do the course and that I am able to compete with that particular competition.

Well I guess when I have bad luck I have really bad luck. Damn freak mechanical. If it could have held out for at least 80 miles I would have finished standing.

After all is said and done - I feel good about the way I was racing for the time I was in. I’ve been training for endurance for many years now and felt like I had a good chance to be on the podium. I will make this race a focus for 2010.

My biggest thank you to MonaVie-Cannondale, Matt Ohran our team manager, and my teammates for all the support, and especially to Cannondale for sponsoring the race. Check out the photos and stories on the website. The MonaVie Emv is seriously helpful. I am very very impressed for what it does for my performance and cannot say enough how much I like the energy drink.

And a very big thank you to Ken Chlouber, the promoter, for making me feel special and for such an excellent and well organized event. I’ve done a lot of 100 mile races and this was one of the best I’ve been to and I plan to be there for many years ahead. One of the best things about it was the competition, the energy of the town and the people, and being there with my team. And thank you to all the spectators and people I got a chance to talk to after the race. It was fun hanging around getting a chance to talk with everyone. Colorado was absolutely beautiful. With all the beautiful mountain passes, trees, down to earth people, and a great town -- it was a good time.

See you next year Leadville….



matt said...

damn bad luck! I was cheering for you. How about a twitter acct, Tinker!

Mike said...

Congrats on the training and getting out for Leadville! Everyone better watch out now that you know what it takes to kick butt at a high altitude!!! :)

DirtDawg said...

Tinker, I have been a fan of yours for over 20 years now. You were my son's hero when he was a kid (he's now a captain in the Army in Iraq). I was so happy to see you on the starting line at Leadville. Looking forward to seeing you again. You rock!

scott said...

Tinker, you are still da man and truly a legend and ambassador for the sport. Ride on brotha!!

Roger said...

You are a hero to all of us still trying to conquer our riding dreams.
We see your great attitude and hope for the sport of MTN Biking, and I'm so happy you continue to promote a sport that is hard to make a living at. WE RIDE Becuase we love to RIDE.
You will be with Lance on the podium next year!!

Erin said...

I was rooting for you! Poop happens. You're still my hero! You were at my first 24hr mtn bike race in Boggs this year and were so encouraging every time you lapped me...which was a lot. :D Ride on!

kayak surge said...

I have to say that since a little boy (now 39) I used to read about you and it was the name I always remembered. When I turned 36 I decided to train for my first Leadville but too little too late it was a poor attempt. This year, I knew about Lance and Levi and Floyd and many other pros, but to be honest I was so happy to know I was riding there with you and of course with Dave Wiens.

For anyone who has never met you I have to say you are one of the most approachable top riders I have ever met (remember a car bugging you for a picture while you were fishing) sorry if we invade your bubble but you are the man!!!

Proud of you in LT100 and so many other events. Come on down for 24 hours of Oleta in Miami!!! If not Leadville 2010 would be fine as well.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Sergio H

Tinker Juarez said...

Thank you very much for all the notes.

Kayak - it was great to meet you at Leadville! No problem stopping in when I am fishing - I needed a break from all those fish biting anyway. :-) I can't make Oleta this year but for sure will see you in Leadville 2010.


kayak surge said...

Just curious will you be at the movie opener in Durango?