Leadville...The Prologue [1 of 4]

Posted: 08/15/2000 by Scott Anthony


Taking a tip from Lori and her wonderful adventure series, I am gong to break this down a bit.

This whole thing started back when I first realized that cancer treatments were going to be over someday.....and then what? I knew that the experience was reshaping me mentally and I was still bubbling with Lance's win last year. I had talked to a friend that had done the Leadville 4 years ago. Brian had always given me the feeling that it was one of the pinnacles of achievement in cycling for him. This was coming from a guy that is known for making other riders feel pain when he is in the hunt. A very strong road and mtb racer, for Brian to have this much respect for the Leadville....I knew that this race had to be unbelievable.

He had also told me that I could do it. This was 4 years ago. I was in good racing condition, riding competitively in the "sport" class races locally. A far cry from the condition that I found myself in last July. Ten pounds overweight, no wind, and a fitness level that wouldn't allow me to enjoy casual group rides.

While out on a solo, mellow mtb ride last July, I got to thinking. Now, I am not Lance, but darn it, his cancer was a lot worse than mine.......and look at what he did. I decided....if I could get into the race, I would find a way to finish it.

When I joined CCC last year, I put it in print for the first time. It scared me a little, but I didn't realize it yet......I didn't know enough to be scared..... yet.

Shortly after, trying to obtain sponsorship for my upcoming racing season, I put the race down again, on my cycling resume. This was starting to be a habit. It was almost too easy to just casually drop the mention of the race to friends and co-workers.

I called my friend Brian after doing the El Tour de Tucson. We talked about that ride and how I did. We talked about the Leadville and he convinced me again, that I could do it. So, with Brian giving me hints as to how to get my application selected, I sent in a request for a race application.

They mail the applications back to you in the SASE that you send to the race coordinator. I received mine on the 3rd or 4th of January. I did just like Brian said. I filled it out that day, cut my check for $185 and FedEx'd back. You see, they used to take the applications on a first come, first serve basis. So the quicker you got it back to them, the better chance you had of getting in. This year they changed that.

They decided to do a lottery. So, a little wasted effort on my part, but now I had to wait. They mailed out notices to the lucky few.......and returned checks to those that didn't get so "lucky." I received one of the sought after postcards......It was meant to be!

At this same time, I was entered in my first 24 hr race. 24 hr at the Old Pueblo, a first time race being held near Tucson, AZ. It was right in Brian's neighborhood, so I asked about it. Well, he wasn't into it....too much work, but he had a friend that was putting a team together. This is where I met Lee. He knew of my battle with cancer.....in fact, he let me chose the name of our 24 hr team....."Refuse to Lose." Little did I know, but this guy is a "local" Leadville hero. I found out several months later, that he had finished 28th overall, and 5th in his class with a time of 8:28!!! After doing the 24 hr race with him and 2 other crazies, we talked about Leadville.

The more we talked about Leadville, the more excited he was about me doing it. Finally, he and his wife offered to let me stay in their cabin in Leadville before the race. A plan was taking shape.

I started training.....kinda. I was out doing fun group rides and getting miles in for the local race season. But, I was getting my butt kicked! I knew that I was in better shape, but it wasn't coming together. The RftR came and went. And what a great time that was. But, I still didn't feel like I was getting into the kind of shape that I needed to be in. My trainer, was definitely helping me, but lacked the rigid schedule that I truly thought that I needed.

Then it was time to stop training......and get married! Good excuse to put all of the training to the side and eat, drink and be merry! And I did. Off the bike for 5 weeks during the peak of prime, AZ training, spring time.

My trainer and I never really hooked up after that. Finally, 6 weeks before the event, I hooked up with JR. A highly recommended trainer for endurance sports, he took one look at my diet and sent me an email. "Your diet is bad." He reworked it, put me on a strict regimen of specific workouts and we compared notes often. I was mixing up road rides, with altitude training, and intervals. I think cancer really helped me here. I listened to my body, and when I was approaching the "overtraining" mode that I am so good at.....I just backed off.

I totally ignored all of my friends at this point. The last, any of my regular mtb buddies saw of me, was at Brian Head, Utah. They had all gone there for a July 4th, descending marathon weekend. They were shocked when I jumped out of the car upon arrival threw pedals on my, as yet unridden new bike, and resisting the "shuttle" that was planned, did the whole group ride.....w/o the shuttle. Lots of climbing that weekend, but I was zeroing in on the goal. They all were really impressed with how focused I was.......now that I think about, obsessed is a better word choice.

When my wife Sylvia and I returned from the trip, another friend, Michael Cornelius called. He had decided that he wanted to drive up to Leadville to be part of a crew for me. What great news! I had talked to Lee several times, and he had told me how big a help a crew can be. All I had to do was to come up with another person. Sylvia was thrilled to have the chance to go....so it was set.

Then, all of a sudden....the big day was here. All of my emergency lists were packed. Enough powergel, spare tires, and energy bars for a platoon. The car was packed and I was going to spend a whole day driving the 850 miles to Leadville. What a journey! A heavy foot and 13 1/2 hours later and I had made it.

And what a sight! Leadville...........



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