Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Silver Rush 50, Part 1: No Escaping That Feeling of Impending Trouble

We returned just a few day ago from another trip to Leadville, Colorado because Sam was competing in the Silver Rush 50, as a potential qualifier for the upcoming Leadville 100 MTB race. Sam has his own tale from the race itself that will be incorporated into this, but the couple of days that should have been a non-event (other than the ride itself) somehow had a way of turning into what felt like an epic disaster. So, for your reading pleasure, I thought we'd share the tale start to finish... because, what fun is a disastrous weekend if you can't share it with friends?

The plan was simple enough. We were going to leave on Friday morning to head up to Leadville with plenty of time to mosey around the city and settle in before the race on Saturday morning. Then, after the awards ceremony, we would spend another evening in the city enjoying the peacefulness (and the much cooler weather) and take our time coming home Sunday morning.
A trial run with mounting the bike to the car's roof basket
The original plan also included having a friend dog sit for us so we could be care-free and know that the pups were being well cared for at home. This friend has watched the dogs in the past and she does an excellent job, so when we come home the dogs are happy, relaxed, and don't feel as though they've been abandoned. We could take them with us, particularly as we were planning to camp, but it's a lot easier to do things when two dogs aren't attached at our hip. Additionally, one of the dogs is quite cranky about having dogs she doesn't know come up to her which has created some hairy incidents in the past, and since there tends to be a lot of dogs in Leadville at the races and also at campsites, we decided asking our friend to watch the dogs was probably our best course of action.

As the event date grew closer, I started to wonder whether or not we should have our friend watch the dogs though, or if we should just take them with us. If Sam was going to do the LT100 ride, we'd have to have them with us (as we had no one to watch them), so maybe it would be a good trial run to see how things went?  I ended up telling her not to worry about it and that we'd just take them with us.

But, as things sometimes go, when we hit the week prior to the Silver Rush 50, I started to rethink that plan. Did we really need a trial run? Wouldn't it be nice to just have a couple of days away and be able to enjoy without worrying about what the dogs were doing or what to do with them to keep them entertained? We have very needy dogs and I wasn't sure I wanted to deal with them.

When I inquired again with our friend as to the possibility of having her watch them, her plans had changed and she was now going to be occupied that weekend. Completely understandable, I thought, and so, we went back to the plan to take them with us. Yes, we may have been able to talk someone else into watching them, but summers are difficult to find people to do this sort of thing as generally people make plans for the weekends well in advance of just a few days prior to needing someone.

Although I wasn't thrilled about it, I did still believe that it would be a good, short opportunity to test things out with the dogs and be able to modify whatever we needed to for the next round. Maybe it would be a good thing after all.

As we got closer to the time to leave, I started to have a bit of anxiety, but figured it was just fabricated, unlikely scenarios taking place in my mind; but, as Thursday evening rolled around, the ball of yarn began to unravel.

"What'cha working on?" I asked Sam as I passed through the bike work space area of the house. "Just tuning up your bike for the ride?" I could see the look of frustration on his face, but I let it go, thinking it was a temporary moment of annoyance.

"Yeah," was his short and to-the-point response. I decided it was best to leave him be and just continued on my way.

Unbeknownst to me at this juncture in our tale, Sam had switched out the wheels and cassette on his mountain bike just the day before. I had wondered what it was he'd been "testing" the day prior, but it all became clear when that information was finally shared later.

So, as Sam stood tuning the bike at 5:35p on Thursday evening, the evening prior to our departure, I began to get concerned.

"What if you just ran over to the bike shop to see if Paul can help you get it sorted out?" I began. It's SO handy to have a bike shop so close by. "Sometimes a second set of eyes helps when you're frustrated. The shop doesn't close until six, so if you go now, it may be quiet enough that he can help you figure it out."

Sam looked at the clock, looked at his bike, put on his shoes and walked out the door with bike in tow. I was relieved because I knew he was frustrated and hopefully they would find quick resolution.

At about 10 minutes after 6p, Sam walked back through the door without his bike.

"So, how did it go?" I asked. "Did you get it fixed?"

"I'm going to go back over in the morning when he opens. Paul had to leave, but he said he'd try to get in a little early so he can look at it before we leave tomorrow," Sam said.

Now, I am not a bike mechanic, but generally speaking a quick tune up seems to go fairly easily from what I've observed. Sometimes things just don't shift well or there's a broken part, but it seems that resolution - in whatever form it comes - tends to be pretty fast. I wasn't sure if I should be concerned or not, but I let it go.

The following morning we decided to go and have breakfast out early before people were out taking care of business or headed to work. It was quiet and calm -- What I hoped was a good omen for our impending trip. I was relaxed. Sam was relaxed. I was even ready to tackle (not literally) the dogs and their needy tendencies.

Speaking of tackling dogs... we had chatted about wearing them out before getting in the car to drive up to the mountains. They seem to do much better when they're a bit worn out, so the plan was for me to go and walk them and attempt to tire them out and Sam would go over to the bike shop and retrieve his bike. We assumed by the time I finished with them the bike would probably be just about ready, which would be perfect for our traveling-with-tired-and-therefore-quiet pair of dogs plan.

So, I went to work throwing tennis balls to play fetch with the dogs and then had the girls drag me around the city for a few miles. It's amazing how much work goes in to tiring out a couple of dogs. As we were headed back home, the dogs and I stopped off at the shop to see how things were going.
Paul had Sam's bike up in the rack and they were still fiddling with and musing over various possibilities. Sam was trying to stay out of the way and let Paul do what he does. There were theories at this point about what was going wrong with the shifting, but they were still trying to get it right. After chatting with them for a few minutes, I headed home with the dogs thinking that they needed water and it would give the guys a little more time to sort through the issues.

While I was home, Sam came back to the house to pick up another wheel and cassette. They had decided to switch things out to see if it would resolve the problem, so I said I'd walk back to the shop with him.

Truthfully, I felt bad for Paul. I knew we were putting unnecessary pressure on him with our very short timeline and I hadn't expected this to be such a difficult fix. He was doing everything in his power to get the bike perfect because he knew Sam was heading out to a race, but the bike just wasn't cooperating.

Meanwhile, time was ticking away. There was nothing we could do about it. Sam and I had anticipated leaving town by about 10a. We figured if things got delayed, we'd be gone no later than noon which still gave us plenty of time to get Sam's race bib, set up camp, and so on. It seemed like a reasonable timeline, but we were coming to understand that time was not our friend this day.

I was getting antsy about leaving. I knew we had time and there wasn't any rush, but I couldn't help but feel as though we would run into problems along the way and I really just wanted to go.

After several switches and fixes at the shop, we ended up leaving town closer to 2:30p, which wasn't ideal, but still gave us time to get to Leadville with daylight remaining and set up camp for the night. We thanked Paul for his help and Sam seemed to be satisfied that the bike would now do well.

The drive to Leadville is about two and a half hours (less depending upon traffic), but because it was a Friday afternoon, the normal traffic of weekenders getting away had begun. The sheer volume of cars was slowing down our travel speed, but eventually we were able to break free and we arrived with enough time to spare. Sam went to get his packet of information while I walked the dogs around the city for a bit.
It was nice to be back in Leadville. It was cooler (70F/21C) than down at the base of the mountains where we'd been experiencing temperatures in the high 90s F. It felt restful, relaxing, and I was ready to set up camp.

As we traveled to the campsite, I told Sam that I'd read some reviews about the site just prior to leaving and not many had much of anything nice to say about it. There were several complaints about the road leading to the camp stating that the terrain was nearly impassable, that there was no space on the individual camp site plots, and that the owners were quite rude.

"Oh, good," Sam mused with sarcasm dripping from his lips, "That sounds promising."

** That's where I have to leave off for today, but I'll have the second part prepared soon and ready to share.

Part 2 can be found by clicking here.


  1. Ohh, I love a good cliff-hanger. Looking forward to the second installment.

    1. :) Unfortunately, time has been extremely tight for me to sit and write over the last couple of weeks and probably for the coming week or so as well, so I fear there may be more cliff hangers before we reach the end.


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