If all goes according to plan, it will be roughly 2 p.m. this Saturday when Nate Whitman pilots his Specialized S-Works Epic onto the red finishline carpet near the intersection of Sixth and Harrison in Leadville, Colorado.
This outcome, if it were to come true, will be significant on several fronts. It will mean that the Team Herbalife rider had a great day on the bike, posting a 7.5-hour finishing time in America’s most well-known endurance mountain bike race. It will mean Whitman stayed within shouting distance of the race’s top pros, and will almost certainly yield a top-15 finish. And most significantly, it will account for the final feet of Whitman’s journey into the Leadville 100’s exclusive 1,000-mile club, reserved for riders with 10 or more Leadville finishes under their belts.
“I started as novice and didn’t really know anything about racing bikes,” recalls Whitman, who is also director of the Herbalife24 Basecamp. “I read about the race in a magazine and entered on a whim. I ended up finishing in just under 11 hours, and that started my obsession. I got my 9-hour buckle in my third year, and then started improving into 8s, and then finally broke eight hours in 2007. Last year was my fastest ever, 7:25 which was good for 13th place.”
Whitman is setting no specific time goals for 2011. Instead he simply hopes to “have a great race and feel strong during the last few miles on the Boulevard. If that happens it will mean I was able to stay with the top guys for a good portion of the race. That would be satisfying.”
To make that happen, Whitman will have to get 100 percent out of body and bike, which this year will be a 2011 Specialized S-works Epic. Here’s a look at Whitman’s steed.