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Leadville Silver Rush 50 - Race Report

Last Saturday marked my fourth Leadville Silver Rush 50 experience. Another successful year in the books.

Some may be wondering why travel all that way for a 50 mile cross country mountain bike race at 10,000 feet above sea level?

There are so many reasons.  What originally attracted me to this event was I absolutely love cross country mountain biking and well the Leadville experience offer some of the best cross country mountain biking I've ever experienced.  The courses are challenging and when you throw in the high altitude experience, it introduces another element that you need to train to overcome.

One other very nice attraction is that this event is one of the Leadville Qualifying Series races, which provides 25-100 qualifying slots to the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, based on the total number of registered riders at each qualifier event. Qualifying events increase your chance to get into Leadville Trail 100 MTB.  This is nice because they let you bypass the lottery system to get into the very difficult LT100 race.

I must admit once you do a few races in Leadville you get the Leadville bug.  I love the people, the race venue, the challenge of dealing with high altitude, traveling with friends and family, the amazing Colorado scenery, and the challenge of the race itself.

Silver Rush 50 Finish Line right after it rained
This year I traveled to Leadville with my best friends Tina and Joe Stiller.  Tina and Joe have an awesome Sprinter Van that we travel to these races.  Plenty of room for everything to be packed safely with us in the van.

Finally in Leadville!

Tina and Joe's Sprinter along with me and Team FCA

One of my goals in Leadville this year was to start testing some bike packing gear.  Mainly my new REI 19 degree sleeping bag and Sea to Summit sleeping pad. With temperatures in the lower 30's I'm happy to report the bag was a great success.  I stayed nice and toasty warm. But best of all I got a full nights rest every night!
Roughing it was great!  I saved on expenses, which is always awesome but the time testing my equipment in the cool temps was a great confidence booster for my future plans.
New bag test night one.

My home away from home
Humming birds need to be part of any great campsite!
Base camp now all ready to go, Joe and I decided to go recon the most technical portions of the racecourse. Everything was very loose due to all the snow runoff.  But Joe and I managed to miss a small rain cloud then went out for a very easy 5 miles at 12,000 feet.  Great time hanging out with Joe kicking some rocks around!

Joe Stiller 12,000 feet above sea

Greg 12,000 feet above sea
Friday is always registration day.  A must do on my list is to stop and have a breakfast burrito and 6 shot Americano from "The Best Coffee Shop on the Planet" City on the Hill!!

Yes I'm smiling...inside my tummy!

With registration complete, we decided to go for a group ride.  A short out and back at the start of the Silver Rush 50 was the plan.  We were able to get most of our Sioux Falls crew together for the pre-race shake out.

Ronpaul, Ryan, Tina, Joe and myself (look at those awesome tan lines)
Fun group we had a blast chasing each other on the 7 mile descent!

Bikes all ready to race!
On race day we always like to get to the start early to place our bike fairly close to the front so we get a clear line for the rocky hill climb running/carry bike start.
The crew
This one is for my son who loves port-a-potty pix.  Not sure why? ;-)
The mass run start up the sledding hill.  This one hurts.
After the shotgun is shot we all start carrying our bikes running up a 20 percent plus grade sledding hill.  My lungs, legs, arms and feet all start to go numb. You can feel the burn!  In the first 3 miles of the course there are a couple traffic jam spots that you hope to get ahead of but I did not and was stuck waiting. Now this is a blessing because you do get to rest your lungs for the 8 mile climb ahead of you!

Silver Rush Profile
After getting out of all the high traffic areas my plan was to keep the pace steady and fun!  This race for me is more a race against the clock rather than a race against others.

Me at Stump town the half way turn around.  Feeling good.
Finish line descent.  Done!
My results - not a PR but close.
Very happy with 12th in my age group.  The only flat-lander in the top 15!
Very pleased with my race against the clock this year because last year the altitude and my asthma put me way behind, so I gained my confidence back!

Each year I come to Leadville to challenge myself, hang with all my loved ones and earn myself a coin to by-pass the LT100 lottery.  Another successful year!

The coin!!

Joe and I enjoying our traditional post-race steak dinner!

Time to pay it all back - Volunteering Stump Town for the 50 mile run on Sunday.
Volunteering for the 50 mile run on Sunday at the turn around Stump Town!
Joe king of the mountain!

Thank you Josh and the Leadville crew for continuing to host a top-notch venue.  Thanks to all the volunteers.  Thanks to Joe and Tina Stiller for always being there for me, you two are the best!  Thanks to my Central Plains Cycling brothers for always pushing and encouraging me.  Thanks to our awesome team sponsors for all you do for us cyclist, Two Wheeler Dealer, Avera, CORE Orthopedics, Stages Power, and Specialized Bikes!

But most of all THANK you to my awesome family TJ, Sawyer, and my amazing wife Kit for supporting me in all this craziness I call a passion - I Love you!

LT100 2016 Here I come!


  1. Nice report Greg! Ha ha, with all of that talk about bikepacking and gear testing, I just knew that you meant for OTHER adventures, not the Tour Divide. No, not that...

  2. We love you to Greg! Joe & Tina

  3. christania’s “lej en cykel” bikes are rolling across the city. The system, less than a year old, is funded by christania’s municipal government. It is currently only in one of christania’s 22 administrative districts. Although a 2nd generation system, there are 12 “Houses” in this district, each with around 40 bikes. The yearly subscription cost is the equivalent of $2 US, and allows the use of a bike for up to four hours at a time. In less than a year, there have been 6,000 subscriptions sold. There are larger 3rd generation systems in the world, which do not have a subscription to bike ratio as big as that.