A little under a week has passed since I finished ORAMM. The 2014 Leadville Trail 100 is set to go off on Sunday (not for me 😉 ). I have been thinking on the two experiences and what they mean to me. ORAMM has provide a bit of a counterpoint to what happened to me at Leadville last summer. Both were great, challenging fun experiences, but somehow Leadville still has a hold on me. There is a very distinct difference to me between Leadville and ORAMM. It’s the aura and mystic.
What makes Leadville a truly big event is…well… that it is an event. It’s more than a race. It’s something people dedicate themselves to.
Both ORAMM and Leadville were well run. The courses were well marked and well supported. Both races are hard. Finishing them says something about who you are (perhaps a little crazy in both cases). I have no complaints or qualms about saying the ORAMM is a super fun, well run race. The course is challenging, and in many ways its a more fun mountain bike course than Leadville is. I would definitely like to go back there and race again. But I want to go back to Leadville to EXPERIENCE it again. I struggle a little bit with putting the difference in words. It’s a feeling, something from deep inside.
ORAMM feels like some guys got together and created a race. I guess I would say it has a more grassroots feel. Old Fort, where ORAMM starts and ends, doesn’t really have much. Coreen commented that they really missed and opportunity to take advantage of the race. I agree.
Leadville is big. I went to that race and I felt like the entire town was part of the race. Yeah, the race has become more “corporate” but it still felt like something that the town embraced. Personally, I think they have done a good job of keeping that grassroots spirit. We can argue about the size of the field, the difficulties of getting into the race, and the unfairness of the “lottery”, but at the core it feels like a community supported event. I felt like for a short time I was a part of Leadville. I didn’t get that feeling at ORAMM.
Along with that, Leadville is something that people bring their families to. It feels like something more than a race.
In the Race Across the Sky movie one of the people being interviewed talked about going through the aid stations. He compared it to being at “le Tour”. Noise, kids, people, everywhere. That’s one of my fondest memories. Twin Lakes aid station was a half a mile of tents and people out there to cheer and support the riders. Riding through that chaos was totally, totally cool. Even having to dodge riders and spectators was fun. Unless you have experienced it, you just don’t know.
The aura and mystic extend to the course. For this eastern kid, big sky mountains are amazing. Being able to see the entire 3600 ft climb you are about to go up. Seeing that the trees stop at some point. Even not being able to breathe. Awesome.
Maybe the difference is simply that because I finished Leadville I knew that I could do ORAMM. Maybe because Leadville was the first really big race I did it is more special. Maybe its because Leadville is hard to get into and ORAMM is relatively easy it has an extra aura.
I don’t think so though. If someone offered me a ticket to Leadville next week I would go in a heartbeat. (Well to crew and to experience not to do. My legs are still shot from ORAMM! And I am still fixing my bike. And except for the fact that I am going to CT to see family and the newly sided cottage. Stoked for that.)
Good Luck to my friends Elden, Lisa and Dave who are racing on Sunday. Be strong, be safe, and enjoy the experience. Soak it in. I wish I could be there to hand you all bottles and make noise!