It’s Not a Bike Race, It’s an Eating Race
TELLURIDE – The starting gun for Telluride’s first 100 mile mountain bike race will sound on July 19 and 65 competitors, 60 percent of them from Colorado and most of them male, will find out if they have what it takes to complete the 100 mile course.
Though it will be a long day, rife with some of the most intense physical and mental stress imaginable, local competitors are confident the experience will be well worth the training hours and the grueling race-day effort, and say that pushing their limits is actually one of the benefits of racing, along with enjoying the camaraderie and beautiful scenery of the race course.
Meet the Competitors
Avid local cyclists Jesse Johnson and John Haggerty (riding for Box Canyon Bicycles) will compete in the 40+ category, the most highly represented demographic in this year’s race. For both men, the Telluride 100 represents their first attempt at completing a race of this length from the seat of a mountain bike.
In addition to being pitted against the clock, the weather and their own physical limits, Johnson and Haggerty will also be looking forward to the challenge of trying to stay on the heels of more seasoned 100 mile trail-race veterans, including local Ricky Willis (riding for Telluride Gravity Works).
The Telluride 100 is not Willis’s first rodeo. Willis finished last year’s Leadville Trail 100 in 7:59:51, placing 95th in a field of approximately 2,000 racers. Willis, who will compete in the Men’s Open category in the Telluride 100, has qualified again for this year’s Leadville 100.
Training and Preparing
“I have done a bunch of long road bike races and had no intention of finding a 100 mile mountain bike race, but then the Telluride 100 came along,” Johnson said. He is racing, he added, “to support the local effort!”
Haggerty has raced both mountain and road bikes, with his longest road bike race at 85 miles. He explains that long-distance road biking is difficult to compare to equally long distances on a mountain bike, as road bike rides take about half the time.
Both Johnson and Haggerty are using Telluride as their training camp for the race.
“All my training has been local,” Johnson said. “My main goal has been to make sure I have enough miles and enough climbing ahead of time. Most of my training has been focused on longer duration, lower intensity, given that this could easily be a 11-12 hour ride for me.”
Haggerty has “been doing a lot of riding on the course itself. I’ve done the Last Dollar Loop a few times, and have been up to Ophir. I am looking to do Black Bear Pass once it is open.” He adds that he has been logging miles on his road bike as well, regularly riding to and from Ridgway from Telluride, because “road miles are the best way to get you strong.”
When asked about the challenges of this race, both Haggerty and Johnson agree that simply being in the saddle anywhere from eight to 11 hours is a huge challenge in and of itself. They also emphasized keeping the body fueled properly.
“The key will be staying hydrated and eating regularly along the way,” Johnson said. “A friend who has done many of these likes to say that it is not a bike race, it is an eating race!”
Haggerty plans to keep a steady stream of electrolytes on hand to avoid cramping, as well as fatigue and dehydration.
Haggerty also said that knowing when to get off of your bike is just as important as knowing when to stay on.
“Knowing when it might be good to walk your bike, to use different muscles and just move around in a different way, is essential,” he explained, “even on sections like Boomerang, which are completely rideable.”
Similarly, Johnson said that knowing when to keep it slow and calm is a tactic far more useful than attempting to go full throttle from start to finish. Going into the race, both men clearly take the approach that it is a marathon, not a sprint, and believe that pushing on even as the body wants to quit will be a hurdle.
“Just staying focused and driven to keep pedaling is something each rider will inevitably struggle with at some point during the race,” Haggerty said.
Johnson and Haggerty agree with race organizer Tobin Behling that the Telluride 100 will be harder than the Leadville 100. Johnson even goes so far as to say, “In typical Telluride style, this ride is going make the Leadville 100 look like a warmup!”
Even Bigger Rewards
Haggerty is intrigued by the prospect of trying something new and different.
“I love to ride,” he said. “I’ve been cycling for 25 years, and I usually don’t have the desire to be in the saddle longer than four or five hours. This is the new big thing, though, in the biking community, and this will give me a whole new perspective.”
Haggerty also said that timing was a big factor in his decision to test his endurance for 100 miles.
“I usually focus on the Mt. Evans hill climb every year, but this year I couldn’t go,” he explained. “A 100 mile race in Telluride is the perfect opportunity to try something different.”
For his part, Johnson said he simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ride for 11 hours through “some of the most glorious scenery in the world,” and couldn’t resist jumping on the bandwagon when a group of his good friends decided to do it.
“I want to support what I foresee becoming a great tradition in our community” Johnson said.
For more information go to: http://telluride100.com/sample-page