“There's an old saying that applies to me: you can't lose a game if you…
The Race Across the Sky
100 miles. Six hours. 11,000 feet of climbing. All at 10,000 feet above sea level.
“My favorite part of the alternative racing program is having the opportunity to spend time with so many friends that I grew up racing against,” said Howes. “It’s so easy to become out of touch with the outside world and the greater cycling community when you’re pedal-deep in the WorldTour circus, constantly on the road and always away from home. To have the opportunity to come home and play bikes with old friends has made me fall in love with the bike all over again.”
Morton and Howes spent much of one the world’s toughest mountain bike race on or near the front of the 2000-rider field. By the 20-mile mark, the first selection had been made. A group of five riders crested down the Powerline climb together.
“Ripping down Powerline with Alex was my favorite part of the race,” said Morton. “I had a huge smile on my face the entire descent.”
“I loved the entire day,” Morton added. “There was so much support out on course, and Alex and I got to pretend to be mountain bikers over some rough terrain. We wound up holding our again against some legitimate mountain bikers.”
Howes was distanced from the leaders at the highest point of the race, over Columbine at 12,000 feet.
“My engine blew, and I had to shift down and crawl my way to the top,” Howes explained. “It ended up being a blessing in disguise. I was caught by Todd Wells at the top and got to follow him down the descent. Following a three-time Olympian down a high-speed alpine mountain bike downhill, getting to watch him do his thing, was such a treat. He’s always been a hero of mine. To be able to race wit him and take notes? Dream come true.”
“There is such a huge sense of community around this event,” said Morton. “It’s so tied into the identity of the town of Leadville. It’s a real privilege to be involved in the event. Physically it’s very demanding, but being forced out of my comfort zone in the technical sections is what I enjoyed the most.”
“The rewards for finishing Leadville are great,” said Howes. “Colorado’s finest vistas, a town with a heart that is beyond compare – perhaps the low pressure at 10,000 feet has caused it to expand to otherworldly proportions – and a belt buckle that is, aesthetically speaking, the perfect inverse to the pain face made when finishing.”