Dad and I drove over to Twin Lakes in the morning, a town about 20 minutes past Leadville, where there was an aid station for the race overall and was the best place to see riders because they would go up and down using the same trail
. We actually knew two people in the race, which was a surprising coincidence considering that this vacation was planned without knowing that the race would be taking place this weekend. One rider was a flight attendant friend of my dad's, Randy, and the other was the manager of my dad's preferred bike shop back home, Dave. This was the flight attendant's 9th time in the Leadville and the other's first. We saw both of them pass on their way down the mountain, Randy first around 11:45, and Dave around 12:30. We thought about going over to another part of the race to see them one more time before the finish line, but by the time we drove over there it would have been cutting it close. We chose instead to drive back to town, enjoy a late lunch, and then head over to the finish line.
Speaking of lunch, we ate at the Tennessee Pass Cafe, which I would recommend to anyone going through Leadville. (Although in all honesty, I wouldn't really recommend spending any extended period of time there. Lunch and a quick walk down main street can be accomplished in about an hour and a half or two hours and that's really all you need). They were obviously busy considering the number of people in town for the race but they handled the crowd well and the food was delicious. I ordered the Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos and they were warm, flavorful, filling, and served with a side of salted tortilla chips and homemade salsa
. My mouth is watering just thinking of them again. While we were eating, Dad and I were kind of creeping on the table next to us, which had about 12 people who were obviously helping with the race in one way or another. I noticed that one of the girls looked familiar, but I couldn't decide if I just knew someone who looked like her or if I recognized her from somewhere. Towards the end of lunch I finally put my finger on it - Trista Sutter, the first bachelorette who married (and stayed married to) the guy she chose on the TV show, Ryan. Dad didn't believe me but when we finished lunch and went over to the finish line, my suspicions were confirmed when they announced Ryan Sutter crossing the finish line.
Both of our friends had great finishes - Randy in 8:46, 12 minutes faster than his time last year, and Dave in 10:08, a great finish for his first race. We met up with Dave, Terry (the service manager from the same bike shop who made the trip with Dave), Dave's daughter, and one of her friends for dinner that. Dave's daughter is actually friends with my best friend from school, so it was fun to be able to meet up and catch up over dinner.
Now, I'm not a biking person, but I have a lot of respect for people who choose it as a hobby and/or profession, and I even think it's a fun sport to watch. Since my dad does road biking and Angie and I went to the Tour de France last year, I've had road racing ingrained in my mind as the usual type of bike racing. The Leadville 100 (http://www.leadvilletrail100.com/) showed me the prevalence and popularity of mountain biking and gave me a whole new appreciation for people who can ride this kind of race. Think about it - 100 miles is a long distance as it is, but these riders were doing it at 9,000+ feet, up and down mountains. That's not child's play.