The Discreet Charm of Suffering

I race gravel, love trails, and miss the roads (maybe)

Lake City holds a special place in my heart. I did this race last year, and it was the first mountain bike race in my life. That in itself would’ve been enough for the warmest feelings, and it is. But with only a few dozen racers gathering in a small town (with a population of slightly over 400 people), it has the vibe of a family gathering. And I’m warning you: after you do it once – you will feel guilty if you don’t come back next year.


I don’t really remember the exact moment when I learned about Leadville. And even though it wasn’t a long time ago, at this point, it sure seems like I’ve been dreaming about doing this race my entire life. However, I vividly recall my last days in Northern California before we said goodbye to old and new friends alike, and moved to a wonderful state of Colorado (my dear California, wherever I am, you’re in my heart until I die). And in those last few days, I was going through a virtual list of climbs and routes in my head, that I wanted to do, but never felt ready enough. And what I thought was not the best time to do them, actually was the one and only moment I had, and I lost it. And that did change my perception of things quite a lot.

With that kind of mindset, I entered December 2022, when the lottery for next year Leadville opened. Was I ready for Leadville? Hell no (spoiler alert – I wasn’t ready on a race day either). Did I have full confidence that I’m gonna be ready for it when/if the time comes? Nope (because I’m smart, not pessimistic). I put my name into the hat anyways. And at 10 o’clock in the morning of January 9th, 2023 I was jumping to the ceiling, running around the house, and texting my best friends to share the excitement that I’ve got a chance to do the race of all races, the hunt for a coveted buckle, the infamous suffer-fest up in the Rockies. One email (along with a $500 transaction on my credit card) flipped my life upside down for the next 8 months. From now on I was asking myself the exact same question a couple of times a day: how that (whatever I was about to do) fits into my Leadville prep plan. Like a certain part of my brain became fully devoted to that until it's over.


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