The best mountain bike races in the world tend to share some of the same qualities – great courses, memorable experiences, and personal challenges. We, as athletes, seek these experiences in the hopes of finding the self-satisfaction that accomplishing a great feat brings us. The Leadville Race Series, a series of summer races which take place in the United States’ highest incorporated city, bring just that.
But the views, the elevation gains, and the distances aren’t what makes the Leadville Race Series so special. There’s a certain type of magic that runs through this Colorado mountain town. Here are the top reasons you and your mountain bike should come to Leadville.
In the words of race founder, Ken Chlouber: “It was cold, near midnight, the pickup heading down the mountain for the last time, an hour before I was about to begin an eight-hour shift underground. Then I was told the mine was closing. All jobs were lost! Now I had to go home and tell Mama and my baby boy that daddy didn’t have a job anymore. Leadville, overnight, became the town of highest unemployment in the Nation.
“That fueled the fire for the start of the Leadville Trail 100. Nothing second rate. Nothing second class. No shortcuts. A one-hundred-mile challenge second to none. We would share Leadville’s grit, guts, and determination with the world.”
Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains alongside the Arkansas River, Leadville, Colorado is the nation’s highest incorporated city. Situated at 10,200 ft, the city is full of historic mining sites and sweeping views. It is easy to reach, located less than 2 hours from Denver, CO. Beyond the mountain backdrops on the outskirts of town, downtown Historic Leadville is lined with locally-owned shops and restaurants in original worn brick buildings. Every dollar shelled out over race weekend directly benefits the community, something the race series is very proud to bring to their home base.
The most memorable of races are often accompanied by the most beautiful of courses. Each race in the Leadville Race Series bring you to places not often traveled to and the views will leave you breathless, if the altitude didn’t already! Spectators and volunteers line the trails across miles and miles, wildlife graze on the mountainous terrain, and gritty inclines lead to sweeping views above treeline.
Multiple race distances
Most famously known for the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, the Leadville Race Series actually offers a variety of events and distances for all levels of athlete. Riders can test the waters with the Silver Rush 15-Mile MTB or the Silver Rush 50 MTB Relay. Additionally, those looking for a bigger challenge can tackle the Stages Cycling silver Rush 50-mile MTB race or see the whole LT100 MTB course over the span of 3 days at the Stages Cycling Leadville Stage Race!
We don’t need to say it. But we will. The courses are TOUGH. At elevations ranging from 10,000 to 13,500 ft, oxygen is far-and-few between. There are climbs so steep that a slow walk is the best way up, where throwing your bike over your shoulder is your only option. But these challenges are what make crossing the finish line so special to folks. The challenge is what makes it all worthwhile. It is what finishers have said changed who they are as people.
The races in Leadville are tough, invigorating, and no doubt grueling. It’s deep in those miles when athletes start to feel a little doubt. But the camaraderie amongst the field in second-to-none. From handshakes at the top of a steep climb, to high-fiving across the finish line, a unique mindset happens out there in the trails and it’s contagious.
The town of Leadville is said to be a complete family atmosphere. Each week there is a race, the people of Leadville opens their arms, and local businesses, to the athletes who are visiting, and for that brief visit you become one of their own. The founders of the Leadville Race Series also had the mentality that success would come from treating each athlete like family. The staff knows the athletes’ names, recognizes their faces, and engages with them on a personal level.
Crumbling, historic mining sites have their presence throughout the inclines and valleys of the race courses. Shiny, new belt buckles are your finisher’s prize! Our very own cowboy Ken Chlouber waiting for you at the finish line to great you with a high five, handshake, or hug. And, of course, you just never know what kind of weather will blow in at the most random of times.
Use code MRK19ST at registration and receive $10 off your registration.