Daniel Murray finished his smoking summertime competitive cycling schedule with a bang, taking sixth overall among a field of more than 800 riders at the ultra-grueling Leadville 100, a hundred-mile mountain bike race, on August 12. That same weekend, teammate Peter Kenyon clamored into the top ten in his 55-man cross country field at the NORBA Nationals grand finale in Snowmass.
Murray Rises to the Top in Punishing Leadville 100
Among the 803 riders that started the 100-mile Leadville 100 race, only about 500 managed to finish within the 12-hour cutoff. Among one of the first riders to cross the finish line after close to eight hours of intense racing was none other than Daniel Murray, who added the victory to his long list of 2006 season accomplishments.
"My season is now complete," he said, "and I exceeded every expectation I ever had." Murray finished the Leadville 100 in 7:44.50 to take sixth overall and win the 21-29 age group.
It was Murray's first crack at the Leadville 100, a classic Colorado mountain bike race in its own right. But while Murray didn't have the advantage of a past performance on the course, his 2006 season race history was all he needed to blast through the competition.
"Leadville was bits and pieces of every training ride and every race all wrapped up into one event," he said, explaining that intense sections were reminiscent of past Mountain States Cup races he'd competed in; long, rolling sections reminded him of all the road miles he'd logged this summer; the 10-mile climb up to the Columbine mine at 12,600 feet at mile 50 replicated all of the rides in the Telluride high country; while the camaraderie of the four guys in the chase group behind the leaders, Murray said, reminded him of his teammates here at home.
"I just had to keep telling myself I had what it takes to keep the pace up and just keep pedaling," Murray said.
Murray said the win wouldn't have been possible without his small but stoic support crew of Jess Sullivan. "It's someone to guarantee that you will get back on your bike and finish, even when you think you can't," Murray said.
Murray will be taking a break from the big racing circuit for now, but is looking forward to the Gray Head Gold Rush in Telluride on Sept 10.
Kenyon Lands Top Ten Finish in National Race
Local racer Peter Kenyon knew what he was in for when he lined up with more than 50 other riders in his division at the NORBA National race in Snowmass. He had raced the same course earlier this summer, as part of the Mountain States Cup, and so was privy to the fact that the 24-mile course is one of the toughest around.
The two, 12-mile loops climb a grueling 2,300 feet and are known as "The Big Burn." The harsh climbing proved no problem for Kenyon, however, with a ninth-place finish.
"Nationals tends to be a pretty big deal, with a huge field of riders from all over," Kenyon said. "So I was definitely happy about placing in the top ten."
Kenyon's top ten finish adds a good number of points to his season-long record and will likely catapult him into the higher pro division next season.
Kenyon will compete in the Durango 100 next weekend, a punishing 100-mile course. Of preparing for a mega-ride such as this, he said, "Physically, it's just a matter of doing longer and longer rides to get my body adapted to the stress. Mentally, though, I try not to think about it! You have to practice numbing your mind to the pain; as soon as you start asking yourself why you're doing this to yourself, you start having problems."