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Preview: Expect records to be broken and lightweight tires to flat at the 2012 Leadville Trail 100

Equipment recommendations

Because the majority of the route is mostly on dirt roads, the majority of bikes on the start line will be lightweight, hardtail 29ers.

With approximately 14,000 feet of climbing over the 100 miles, bike weight becomes an important factor when choosing a race machine. Even with some rocky sections on the road, a dual suspension bike is overkill and most racers don’t consider the extra weight worth the added comfort.

While there are certainly some who forgo suspension entirely, choosing to run a rigid fork in order to save weight and improve climbing efficiency, the descents are rocky and technical enough to warrant front suspension for most riders, especially over the course of 100 miles.

Tire choice is always a point of debate among racers as the tendency is to try to run as lightweight of a tire as possible. There have been several high-profile flat tires in the race, including Lance Armstrong riding in on a flat in 2009, which have led some to reconsider the risk to reward ratio of ultra light tires.

A compromise can be found by running a slightly heavier tire with a strong sidewall that will stand up to 100 miles of abuse over sharp rocks that has a low tread pattern that allows for low rolling resistance on the faster sections of the course. With no technical singletrack, cornering grip isn’t a high priority. Good choices would be a tire similar to the Kenda Karma or Smallblok 8.

Unlike many 100 milers held in different parts of the country that have fairly accurate weather forecasts, the weather at the Leaville 100 can be unpredictable and can change rapidly. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in August and can release frigid rain, hail, and sleet at 12,000 feet in the middle of summer. Because of this risk, a light rain jacket in a jersey pocket or camelback could be worth its weight in gold if the skies decide to open up.

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