Getting Ready: Behind the Scenes at the Leadville 100
Ever wonder what it’s like to be a pro mountain biker prepping for and doing a big race like the Leadville 100? A half dozen lucky amateur racers are getting to experience exactly that at the first-ever Todd Wells Pro Experience Camp put on by three-time Leadville 100 winner Todd Wells. Our very own Kenny Wehn has spent the week behind the scenes at the camp.
“I’ve always had a great build up to Leadville, and I wanted to give that special pro experience to amateur racers, too, so they would have every possible chance to succeed,” said Wells. “People sacrifice a lot to do Leadville - it’s a bucket list event. They spend months preparing by following a rigorous training plan.”
During the week leading up to the Leadville 100, Wells' Pro Experience mountain bike camp attendees stay in a nice house and are taken care of by staff.
“Just like the pros, all our riders have to do is focus on the race. We prepare meals, take them out for course section pre-rides and make sure their bikes are in fine working order,” said Wells.
“One of the unique things about this camp is that the staff who are supporting it also supported me when I was doing the race as a pro. It’s not like we just have random people helping out. I wanted to provide a genuine and authentic Leadville pro experience.”
Wehn, who is among the support staff for the camp, described a typical day at camp. “We get up and have breakfast and decide what part of the course we want to ride that day. We load up bikes and riders and shuttle to the start."
After the pre-ride, riders return to the rental house, have lunch and relax for the rest of the afternoon.
"There are massages to be done and a group dinner. In the evening post-dinner, we hang out and socialize or talk about the race," said Wehn. "Todd is great about sharing his experiences and advice.”
Think how nice it would be to finish your day’s training ride and simply hand off your bike to your mechanic. That’s where Myron Billy comes in.
“I take care of each of their bikes just like it was Todd’s bike. I wash all the bikes and make sure they are race ready," said Billy.
"Sometimes I tune suspension, put fresh Stan’s sealant in their wheels, overhaul a fork or put on a new chain. I talk to them and figure out what’s not working and how to fix it," said Billy.
“The riders are here to get ready for the race and prepare mentally and physically,” said Billy. “Between Kenny and me, we have everything to take care of everyone’s bike.” When not working the camp, Billy is Team Cliff Bar MTB’s mechanic.
Meals are coordinated and prepared by Todd’s wife Meg, who has many years of direct personal experience knowing exactly what, how and when to feed a pro mountain bike racer.
While Wells is retired and thus no longer contesting the race as a top favorite pro, he will still be out on course on Saturday in a very special capacity.
“I’m riding as a personal domestique for one of the campers. I’ll take lots of pulls so he can draft. I’ll grab his food in the feed zone and help in the event that he has any mechanicals. I can help him fix a problem or give him a wheel or my bike if needed,” said Wells. “Hopefully, it’ll go well for him, and he won’t need much support, but I’ll be there for him just in case.”
Billy, Wehn and Meg Wells will all be out on course on race day, too, staffing feed zones and otherwise supporting their riders at the start and finish, just like a pro!