Hot dog guy at 12,000 feet
Gunnison resident and six-time Leadville 100 bike race champion Dave Wiens set a new personal record time in the bike race on Saturday, August 14, torching the course in six hours, 33 minutes and 54 seconds.
“Going into the race I felt as good as ever,” says Wiens. “I actually got some sleep the night before.”
Remarkably, he still finished in fourth place.
Last year, when Lance Armstrong ended Wiens’ run of six consecutive titles, Wiens said he probably would ease off the training a bit for the race.
“After last year I thought I didn’t want to commit to the training,” says Wiens.
But as the summer wore on, Wiens was feeling strong and his training, though different than years past, was still intact. A new job had him shuffling his rides more than usual but he still managed to get things done.
“I trained well and I trained hard,” says Wiens. “I focused more on intensity and not as much on structure.”
Add in this year’s course conditions and the race was primed for new record across the board. Recent rains followed by a quick dry and a lot of traffic from athletes pre-riding the course had the course packed tight.
“The course was just fast,” says Wiens. “It was a super hard, fast surface.”
But with current touring pro riders such as Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Todd Wells and Tour de France Radio Shack rider Levi Leipheimer in the mix, the field was top-notch in the world of bike racing, both mountain and road.
They teamed up to set a blistering pace right from the start, and Wiens made a point of not getting caught up in the frenzy even though he was well within striking distaance coming out of the Twin Lakes feed zone at mile 40.
“I could have jumped up with those guys but I didn’t want to,” says Wiens. “I knew I couldn’t ride in that group. I just kept my pace going.”
Wiens eventually teamed up with Jeremiah Bishop to finish the race trading pulls and crossing the line in fourth place. Without a watch, Wiens had no idea what his time was until he was done.
“When we rolled in at 6:33, I was blown away,” says Wiens. “I was really pleased with my race.”
Wiens points out that the race has taken on an energy unlike anything he has seen in the past, complete with fans in costume and a guy near the top of the Columbine Mine climb serving up hot dogs and beer on a silver platter.
“The hot dogs were right off the grill,” says Wiens. “The smell was so striking.”
Furthermore, during the race, Wiens found himself with an extra bagel coming out of the feed zone. Not wanting to waste it or pollute, he tossed it to some fans along the course. They returned it to him after the race; he tossed it to Dave Ochs, and it’s now on eBay.
“Last time I looked, it was up to $46,” says Wiens.
All proceeds from the sale will go straight to Gunnison Trails.
Still, he was psyched to see the typical Gunnison Valley contingent in force.
“I want to give a shout out to the Gunnison Valley folks out there,” says Wiens.
Leipheimer ended up winning the race in a record time of six hours, 16 minutes and 37 seconds.
Team Alpine Orthopaedics Cycling had two of their athletes in this year’s race. Rider, team physician and sponsor Dr. Rhett Griggs made his first trip to the race with two goals in mind.
“First, I wanted to finish. Second, finish under nine hours,” says Griggs.
Griggs hit both goals with room to spare, crossing the finish line in eight hours, 11 minutes.
“The course was good for my style,”’ says Griggs. “Steep climbs, not technical and a lot of road.”
Ironically, Griggs finished with fellow team Alpine rider Troy Hiatt, who Griggs helped put back together after Hiatt fractured his shoulder in April.
“That was really cool for me to ride with him and finish with him,” says Griggs.
Other Gunnison Valley riders include Jarrel Ryter, who finished the 100-mile course in eight hours, 17 minutes and Lee Cannon. Cannon is 62 years old going on 35 and crossed the finish with a time of 10 hours, 54 minutes and 23 seconds.
Crested Butte town attorney John Belkin made his return to Leadville maintaining his pre-race regimen of eating at Kays Dairy Delite in Buena Vista for dinner to post a time of 11 hours, 13 minutes and 57 seconds.
As for Wiens’ future with the race, “I don’t know what next year holds for me,” says Wiens. “I probably have to go through a 12-step program to wean myself off the race.”