The Leadville 100 MTB is right around the corner. For many, this is the biggest race of the season – or even racing careers. Years of work are put to the test at the highest of elevations in an attempt to earn "The Buckle". Some will have a good day, strong legs, and big lungs. Many won't.

SoCal's Erin Machan is one rider that has stepped up for the challenge.
he comes from an endurance and multi-sport background and has put her focus into endurance mountain biking. She'll put all her experience to use to make it to Leadville's downtown finish line red carpet. And she'll need it. It's estimated that only 65% of the field will finish under the 12 hour cutoff time. 

In the week leading up to Leadville, Erin will check in and share her Leadville experience.  


Altitude… The struggle is real! 

After yesterdays Powerline pre-ride I decided to take it easy. I am feeling the altitude more than I expected. In hindsight, I am not exactly sure what I expected. The general feedback I got leading up to the race was “it’s different for everyone”. What I notice the most is my recovery and my stomach. My heart rate wants to go crazy and I’m out of breath. It leads to an almost panicked thought… “Am I even fit enough for this race?!” The stomach issues make me not want to eat in fear of cramping, which then leads to me being calorie deficient, which then leads nothing good. So currently I am just dealing with it and trusting that by sticking to my plan it’ll all work out in the end… or it wont. 

I’ve done a pretty good amount of positive self-talk the last 4 days, reassuring myself to be ok with whatever happens. 65% of the field that starts the Leadville 100 MTB race does not finish, and I have to be ok if that includes me. I’ve been mountain biking less than 3 years and just getting to the start line is something to be grateful about.  Of course every ounce of me wants to succeed. Will I go sub 9 and get a big buckle? Not even a thought I am considering. Someday, yes, that will be a goal. For now, I just want to experience this iconic race and really find out what it’s all about. So far, I’m hooked. Head over heels in love with this entire place, the community of Leadville, the amazing landscape and the thousands of racers traveling from around the world to bike and run all over this beautiful state. 

Today involved a chill day of riding around Twin Lakes with my awesome photographer and mechanic friend, TJ Kearns from Atlanta. We decided we’d scope the area and do a little photo shoot while waiting for my Wattie Ink teammate Heather Catchpole to finish stage two of TransRockies. TJ and I took off up the road that takes you from the Twin Lakes to the Columbine climb. I just wanted to see it, I knew it was too much for me to do today given I was supposed to be resting. We checked it out and got some pretty rad photos, then headed down to the Colorado Trail. The Colorado Trail is a 500-mile trail that goes between Denver and Durango. We did a couple miles of it until the lead TransRockies runners came through and decided to turn around to respect the runners. It was a beautiful single track around the lake with views that made you just want to soft pedal and soak up every second. Being out there on my bike in that moment made me wish I wasn’t racing Saturday so I could take off into the mountains with no plan of return. 

The reality however is that I am excited beyond words for the race Saturday. So I try to feed my desire to explore and wander on my bike by doing tiny little bits of the area and saving any effort for race day. I love to race, I love to train for races, I love the discipline and commitment, but I also want to be flexible and open to exploring and discovering new things, so I do my best to balance it all. 

By : Erin Machan