Oakley's Andy McSorley Finishes Famed Leadville 100

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Colorado’s famed Leadville 100, the country’s highest-altitude bike race, begins at 10,500 feet and climbs more than 14,000 cumulative feet on a 50-mile out-and-back trek. It’s considered by many as the country’s toughest single-day race. Lance Armstrong won last Saturday, but another Oakley hero, Oakley’s Andy McSorley held it down for the mere mortals, finishing the 104 mile course in 8 hours and 51 minutes and placing 105th out of approximately 1500 competitors. Considering only 65% of the competitors even finished, McSorley’s Leadville 100 trophy belt buckle is something to admire. We caught up with Oakley’s Eyewear Brand Manager and asked him to shed some light on the “Race Across the Sky”…

The area surrounding Leadville is an awesome place—truly Colorado high country. You’re out there and you definitely feel like you’re out there. You’re exposed to all of the elements coming down without mercy. And the race itself is just comically hard on top of that.

The first 20 miles was just a sea of humanity—like a massive swarm of bees. You would try to pass, then someone else would pass you. It was hard to gain ground so I just kept my own pace. I suppose the blessing about altitude, is that you physically can’t push yourself too hard or too fast. You’re forced to pace yourself.

I got to the four-hour mark with over 50 miles to go and I was feeling miserable. We were racing in 38-degree temperatures with rain and sleet combined with 30 mph winds.

It’s the only time in my life when I’ve drafted someone in granny gear. No exaggeration, a legitimate granny gear paceline at 6 miles per hour.

Then it dawned on me—I wasn’t even halfway by distance or time! You just have to laugh at that point.

My Powerbars were frozen bricks. It took me 20 minutes to eat one. I ate countless Gu’s and gels. At one aid station a spectator offered me some cheese and salami that I washed down with a Coke. Your body simply needs calories and doesn’t care where they come from. All I wanted was to finish, and I figured the faster I finished, the quicker the pain would be over. That was really my only motivation for hustling.

As for the altitude it certainly felt high. Especially at 12,600 feet. I don’t even want to stop at the turnaround aid station. I just wanted to get back down. Your body can’t recover at that altitude.

I’ll never forget climbing up to the turnaround at Columbine mine, I saw Lance coming down looking completely fresh like he was on a photo shoot. Then as 6-time Leadville champ Dave Weins raced by in second place, he’s cheering everyone along the way: “Great job, you’re killing it!” That just embodies the spirit of the whole event in general. Everyone is competing against the course and their own willpower rather than racing against one another.

I’d go back just for the people and vibe. It’s such an amazing community feeling. Everybody is so incredibly helpful and supportive, from the volunteers to the spectators to the fellow racers. The entire town comes out to cheer everyone on and there were people yelling for us even out in the middle of nowhere. The atmosphere at Leadville is something special for sure.

A huge shout out goes to our Arizona-based rep Rich Weis for single-handedly orchestrating Oakley’s sponsorship efforts at the Leadville 100 this year. Thanks to Rich, Oakley’s support of this amazing event was authentic and very apparent to the thousands of competitors and spectators at the event, with banners, announcer call-outs, and Oakley logos all over race bible. Each category winner was stoked to receive Oakley sunglasses as their prize, even Lance won a pair of Radars!

Author

Tess Weaver

Date

August 19, 2009