Thumb tacks annoy riders at Leadville 100 |

Thumb tacks annoy riders at Leadville 100

Mountain bikers cross finish line with tacks in their wheels

Riders prepare to embark on the 100-mile Leadville Trail 100 MTB race, produced by Life Time, on Saturday, August 10, 2019.
Leadville Trail 100 | Special to the Daily

Eagle-Vail cyclist Cristhian Ravelo encountered numerous mechanical problems in this year’s Leadville 100, something he’s come to expect in a long race like that one.

Ravelo had to stop several times to fix his chain, fix a flat tire, and his derailleur completely broke off.

He was gunning for a top-5 spot after winning the 50-mile version of the iconic Leadville mountain biking race earlier this summer, but was still happy to cross the finish line in 24th place amid all the issues. Then he looked down and saw something else that was strange.

“I finished with a thumb tack in my wheel,” he said.

Several athletes reported similar issues.

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Jake Wells, of Avon, said his Stan’s No Tubes tires saved his race after picking up a couple of thumb tacks early on in the race. Wells finished 28th.

“I didn’t realize until after the race that I still had one in the back tire,” Wells said. “It was probably about 15 miles in when I picked it up.”

Tack-tical motivation

The tacks didn’t appear to affect the impressive finish of women’s winner Rose Grant, who also rides on Stan’s No Tubes tires.

“I talked to her mechanic … she had a tack in her tire too,” Wells said.

For second-place finisher Quinn Simmons, the tacks may have proved helpful in an unexpected way. Following the race, Simmons gave VeloNews an exciting race report, describing a wack-a-mole like attempt to plug the multiple thumb tack holes before limping into his tech pit. The frustration of the incident prompted Simmons to reach new limits, VeloNews reported. By the end of the race, he had nearly caught leader Howard Grotts, finishing just three minutes behind Grotts for second place on the day.

“It just felt like something that shouldn’t be happening and I got really frustrated,” Simmons told VeloNews. “And that’s why, when I started going, I was so mad that I figured I would ride as hard as I could until I blew up. I fully planned to blow up halfway up Columbine [climb] and I had pretty good motivation to just go as hard as I could.”

Bucket list race

Simmons, Wells and Grant were all enjoying their first Leadville Trail 100 experience on Saturday. They were among 647 first timers to partake in America’s highest 100 mile mountain bike race. Grant contributed to a 39 percent increase in overall women’s participation year-over-year.

A total of 1,332 riders crossed the finish on Saturday, 1,209 men and 123 women.

Wells said the race has been a bucket list item for him.

“Unless you’ve been there and seen it first hand, you really can’t describe the amount of support in the city of Leadville,” Wells said. “The community, but also the brotherhood, sisterhood, family atmosphere of earning that buckle … to hear these amazing stories of these people who are going out and testing their mettle … it’s our backyard, essentially, but for some of these folks it’s a once and a lifetime opportunity.”

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