I'm sure you've all heard the news by now.
Lance is back. Yes, we've heard all the comparsions to other retired athletes who've decided to unretire. The Brett Favre of Cycling? Sure. Favre is a Hall of Fame quarterback. I watched some of the Jets vs. Dolphins game on Sunday, and he still looks pretty sharp...even after his so-called 'retirement'. If cycling had a Hall of Fame, I'm sure Lance would be at the top of the list.
Why not? I was looking at the results of the Leadville 100 a couple of weeks ago. I've read about this ride in several of the cycling mags, and on Fat Cyclist's blog as well. For those of you not familiar with this ride, it is a mountain bike race and from what I understand is one of the most challenging events out there. Here's an excerpt from http://www.leadville.com/:
"At the hub of the Top of the Rockies Byway is the historic city of Leadville, North America's highest incorporated city (10,430 feet elevation), and the frontier West's wildest, richest, silver mining Boom Town."
"Leadville (pronounced "led" as in the metal lead, not "leed" as in "lead a horse to water",) made its fortune in silver, which was mined in a heavy carbonate of lead. Because there were lots of "silver" named towns at the time, the founding fathers suggested Leadville. Other names originally considered included Carbonate, Cerrusite, and Meyer (after a prominent citizen). A short period after this, during a time when the name could have been changed, names suggested included Lead City, Agassiz, Harrison, and Carbonateville. Nicknames for Leadville include "The Magic City" and "The Cloud City", (at two miles high the city is sometimes in the clouds)."
The Leadville trail 100, also known as "The Race Across the Sky", seems to be an accurate statement. It's 50 miles out and back smack dab in the midst of the Rockies. The lowest point is 9,200 ft. and the highest point is Hope Pass at 12,600 ft. Here's the link to the elevation mapping for this particular 'recreational' ride:
12,440 feet of elevation gain for 100 miles, most of it near or over 10,000 feet. Just looking at this map and these elevations leaves me gasping for air.
In mountain biking circles, it's considered a major accomplishment to finish in nine hours. Participants finishing in this time receive a rodeo style belt buckle which I understand is large and shiny enough to signal passing aircraft. To give this some perspective, Lance participated in the race this year and finished second, with a time of 6:47:41..about 2 minutes behind the leader. The third place finisher's time was 7:20:52.
I'd say the guy's been keeping himself in OK shape. So if he wants to race TdF again, I say go for it. I'll be busy July 2009ish, anyway :>)