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.  

PHOTOS : Timothy James Photography


Today was all about rest. My stomach is still not acclimating, however my lungs and heart seem to be settling down. I was able to carry my bike up 4 flights of stairs today and I didn’t have to stop to catch my breath, that is success my friends! 

Since I wasn’t doing any hard rides, I decided it would be best to go see some of St. Kevin’s. It’s the first real climb of the race and I just wanted to drive to the top and check it out a bit. For me, it helps to a have a visual. That way I have an idea of what to expect race day. I like having a plan, “plan your race and race your plan”. That’s my motto I’m going with Saturday. In my experience things don’t always go as planned but if I stick to a plan I have less to worry about and it’s much easier to handle challenges as they come, which inevitably they will. 

TJ came with me to ride and take some photos. It’s been nice having company the past two days and doing these photo shoots keep me distracted from thinking about the race. The drive to St. Kevin’s was beautiful and it looked about what I had imagined. I didn’t want to do much so we just rode around and took photos and enjoyed the amazing landscape. I really cannot get enough of it and all I can think about is when I can come out here next to just ride my bike and explore. I just can’t get enough of how I feel in the mountains! 

I imagine the iconic Leadville 100 MTB race will live up to the hype. So far every part of the course has been challenging. Challenging in ways that question whether or not I am in over my head. As much as I try to block out self-doubt, the reality is it’s unavoidable. Sometimes I think “I’m a total hack, I mean I’ve only been riding a mountain bike less than 3 years and here I am trying to do Leadville?! What was I thinking?!” That’s why I have a coach; Lesley is great at putting my mind right where it needs to be. She’s made it very clear that Leadville 2015 is just the beginning of my endurance racing “career” (or whatever you call it) and Saturday is all about the experience! However, no matter how much I repeat that to myself, I still doubt everything, my bike, my gearing, my nutrition plan, my fitness, my hydration plan, etc. Although I am confident I’ve done my best to train and prepare, I still doubt everything. 

I think pressure and nerves are just unavoidable going into Leadville. Especially when it’s been the goal for over a year now. The only thing like this I ever did was Ironman Arizona in 2013. I think I felt similar but the intention was very different. With Ironman I was a one-and-done. I wanted to do it before I turned 30, and I didn’t really care much about the end result. I trained religiously, set time goals, and executed a great race, but that was the end. I think one of my biggest fears about Leadville is that I’ll hate it, that’ll it’ll be so hard, or so miserable, or I’ll suck so bad that I’ll never want to do it again. If this were just the beginning then that would be quite the plot twist. 

I intend to focus on my plan, focus on having fun, focus on encouraging others on the course, focus on worrying about the dirt under my tires and not the dirt at the finish, and by doing that I think I can leave the rest up to luck! 

By : Erin Machan