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Mountain Gear

Payson McElveen’s ‘climbing rocketship’ is dialed for the Leadville Trail 100

The endurance pro shares details about his brand-new Allied BC40 and the changes he’s made for the high altitude race

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Allied Cycle Works has hit the cycling scene with a mission to build bikes that they want to ride.

For Payson McElveen, an Allied rider, one of the primary reasons he partnered with the Arkansas-based company is Allied’s new bike, the BC40 mountain bike. The BC40 is described as a cross country machine mixed with an all-day trail sled.

McElveen will debut the BC40 at the Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 MTB, going off on August 13.

Read also: Allied releases its first ever mountain bike, the BC40

The Leadville 100 is aptly suited for climbers but does contain enough rocky descents and slippery corners that mountain bike skills are absolutely necessary. Given the elevation, which stays above 10,000 feet throughout the race, and the unique nature of the terrain, many riders adapt their typical bikes specifically for this race.

McElveen has made some changes to his usual setup and will be riding a unique BC40 frame built with this course in mind.

Allied Cycle Works made a super light version of their BC40 frame for this event with some slight modifications to the carbon lay-up and design in order to shed a few grams. Instead of McElveen’s colorful custom bike, his bike for Leadville is raw carbon with a clear coat – again, shedding a few grams from the weight of the paint.

The BC40 comes stock with 120mm of travel both front and rear with the option to bump down to 110mm or 100mm. McElveen has opted for 100mm of travel front and rear for Leadville which he feels is plenty for the terrain.

When asked about his decision to bring a full suspension bike versus a hardtail, McElveen said, “The folks I’ve talked to think it’s a wash — the full sus is better on some sections of the course and the hardtail is better in other sections.”

McElveen does point out, however, that the men’s course record was set on a full suspension bike.

“Personally, I like the idea of being able to turn off my brain a little bit and just pedal hard without thinking about taking perfect lines on some of the rocky descents.” McElveen said about his decision to ride the full suspension BC40.

McElveen will run Maxxis Aspen 2.25 tires at 20psi front and rear — a tire width that is narrower than his usual bike setup. Due to the fast descents and sharp above-treeline rocks, McElveen will run a tire insert in the rear for added flat protection.

Dropper posts have largely taken over mountain biking, even making their way onto many gravel bikes. At Leadville though, McElveen will be with the majority of the pros who opt for the rigid post due to the lack of steep technical terrain on course.

This culmination of decisions means McElveen’s BC40 weighs in at right around 22lbs, which, for a size large full suspension bike, is incredibly light.

“It’s a climbing rocketship,” McElveen said.

Rounding out his preparation, McElveen will carry one extra tube, tire plugs, a multi-tool, a chain breaker, and a 20g CO2. He plans to pick up a full 26oz water bottle and nutrition at each aid station with the knowledge that there will always be extra water, food, or repair items if he needs from his support crew and there are plenty of aid stations to keep what he carries to a minimum.

The setup for Leadville has required a significant amount of extra gear, planning, testing, and decision making. When asked about this process, McElveen said that, to a degree, he likes thinking about the marginal gains.

“It’s a balance, everyone falls on a spectrum based on personality in terms of how much energy they want to put into these types of decisions,” he said. “Some people love sweating the details and even get joy from it, other folks can’t stand any of that. It can work both ways, people succeed with both approaches.”

McElveen is racing the Leadville 100 as part of the Life Time Grand Prix, the six race off-road series where he currently sits in 13th after an injury took him out of the first event. In previous years, he has finished in 3rd, 3rd, and 4th at this event.

This year, he’s excited to give it another go, balancing the pressure of the Grand Prix with the hopes of enjoying another day out on his favorite bike.