The other day my friend Bill Brandt sent me a few pictures. Before I get to them, let me tell you a bit about them.Â My friend Bill and I decided to do this event called the Leadville Trail 100. He was living in Colorado at the time as a firefighter.Â I was living here in MN and had just started my career at QBP. I was young and my whole life was about cycling, food, work and more food.Â I had a goal of going sub 9 at Leadville which back in the day was sort of a big thing. I was so serious about it, that I went out in June (I think) to ride the entire course so I knew it and would not be surprised by anything. Anyway, the following pics were taken by my friend Bill while out on our training ride. I had no idea these pictures were coming. They arrived in my mailbox the other day with no note or letter. Just pictures. He knows what I like!Â Thank you Bill.
Also, I remembered a post a wrote about this back in 2009. Here’s my story of my first endurance race of my life. Looking back now I can honestly say it had a big impact on my life.Â I hope you enjoy the story.
I remember the first time I saw a Leadville Trail entry form.Â Â I was working at Walt’s Bike and Fitness in Columbia, MO.Â Â One of our regular customers, who bought a Trek y22 from me,Â brought the entry form into the shop to show me.Â He was a paramedic and was thinking about doing support at the event.Â Â Â Endurance racing wasn’t really happening at that time.Â There was Canaan and there was Leadville.Â I’m sure there were more, but those were the only ones that were ever “talked” about in print magazines.Â Â The entry form mentioned “you could die” in the text. Â He asked me if I would ever do an event like this?Â Â Â From that day on, I was obsessed with Leadville. After moving back to the Twin Cities, I still had it on my mind.Â I was living with my sister, working at QBP as a customer service agent and riding big miles.Â Â Someone at work put a sticker on my locker that said “Boucher, man of many miles.” I had no commitments.Â My biggest chores for the day were to get up, figure out where I was going to ride for breakfast and coffee, work, figure out what was for lunch, work, then ride, eat, shower, then sleep.Â Â Â Â
So I went out on a whim and sent my entry form in.Â I figured why not? Well….I got in!Â Â Yes! Â I started training in February.Â Â By March I had done a couple of hundred mile long road rides.Â By April I was doing them every weekend.Â Â I even did a couple of back to back hundies on a Saturday and Sunday in June.Â I also did a scouting trip to Colorado where I rode about 80% of the course and did the Mt Evans Hillclimb (not part of the official race), but I did it. Â Â I capped off my training with 3 back to back 100 mile days over the Fourth of July.Â I figured this would allow me to taper until the race in August.Â Â I was ready.
I had a crazy build up to the event.Â My ride and transportation to Colorado backed out at last minute due to dental school commitments.Â Â My car broke down.Â I was out of money.Â I had just met a girl (who is now my wife).Â I called her to tell her I couldn’t go.Â She said you gotta do it.Â Â So…I rented a car using my last remaining credit card available balance and drove 16 hours out there.Â Slept for about 6 hours and drove up to Leadville with a friend who was also doing the race. Way back then, I didn’t worry too much about proper nutrition.Â I just worried about calories.Â I had planned a sub 9 hour time.Â I packed 9 Gu packets, 1 for each hour.Â Â I put a box of pop tarts and a zip lock bag with ibuprofen in my drop bag at Mile 50.Â Â That’s it.Â I had no support.Â I hoped there was water at the aid stations.Â Â If it started pouring rain, I was wearing wool and figured I’d find coverage somewhere if needed.
I was a bit worried about the speed of the roll out.Â Â We were flying and at the elevation, I just couldn’t hold it.Â Â I backed off and came into the first water station in about position 100-125.Â Damn.Â Not what I was expecting. Â I quickly filled my bottles and got back on my bike.Â No rest.Â No chit chat. I pulled into aid station #2 in about position 75-100.Â Â I was moving up and felt great.Â Â I had about 42 miles down and I was headed up the Columbine climb.Â It was 8 miles of climbing to over 13,000 feet.Â Â The climb is an out and back so it pays to be closer to the front.Â Â I wanted to see how far I could get before the first place folks were coming down.Â I made it pretty darn far and started counting folks coming down.Â I reached the top in roughly 70th place.Â Sweet.Â Not bad for a MN boy with zero acclimation at 13,000 feet. At the 50 mile mark, I looked at my HR monitor and stop watch and I was at just under 5 hours.Â Â I figured there was no way I’d get sub 9.Â Â I kind of let the sub 9 dream go.Â Â Â Little did I know the next 8 miles of downhill wouldn’t take long.Â I got to the bottom, after a crash at about 30 miles an hour, and saw that the goal was still in sight.Â
4 rest stops down and 1 to go.Â I had 42 miles to go and just 2 hours and 30 minutes to make it in under 9 hours.Â Â I put my head down and started hammering out the miles.Â Â I must have passed at least 20 people between the rest stop 4 and 5.Â I had a pack drafting me for at least 10 miles.Â I did not care.Â I just kept going with folks falling off the back of the paceline.Â In the end, I made it back to town and knew I was going to make it.Â I was cramping and dying near the end.Â On my final turn into town, a motorist ran a stop sign and almost killed me.Â This gave me my last little adrenalin kick I needed to finish strong. Â My finish time was 8 hours 44 minutes.Â I finished in 39th place overall.Â Â
To this day, it is my greatest cycling race memory of my life.Â I quickly ate (with John Stamstad I might add) got back in the car and drove back to MN.Â Â It was a crazy 4.5 days.Â Â Â This memory formed my definition of endurance racing and is still part of who I am and what I do today.