Interview: Cheating the Wind at Leadville 100

So, a few weeks ago, Jeremiah Bishop reached out to talk about how he’s gunning for a new course record at the Leadville Trail 100 this year. But with so many pros trying to one up each other there, he knew he’d have to do more than have the performance of his life. He’d have to come up with some new tricks…

“For this year, a lot of what I’m looking at optimizing won’t require fabrication, so it’s things like optimizing the placement of things on the bike. But I’m talking to SRAM about modifying their wheels to use carbon fairings like what you’d find on their Zipp road wheels. And things like dropping the post down to get lower on the flat descents, which is like free speed.”

More on that dropper post thing in a minute… Bishop admits that a lot of what he’s been looking at so far produced or came from anecdotal results. To put a little more science behind it, he turned to Robby Ketchell, the aerodynamics guru that’s worked with Team Sky to streamline Chris Froome and the rest of the riders. Ketchell’s company, Winning Algorithms, produces both hardware and software to analyze the weather and course conditions and make specific aerodynamic recommendations on equipment and rider position.

“I’ve worked with Team Sky and all of their stuff for the Tour,” Ketchell told us by phone. “So Bishop and I were talking about what he could do to improve aerodynamics on a mountain bike. One of the biggest things I suggested was getting his face as close as possible to his forearms. On a mountain bike, that’s much easier because the front end is already higher, so you can reduce that frontal drag and still have good power output.

“But you have to be strategic about it,” says Bishop. “You don’t need to be aero when you’re going too slow.”

“I’ve done Leadville four times, and there are really key moments when you can be aero on that course. Like the road section right after you come out of Powerlines. And it depends on what type of people you’re with, whether or not you can draft, and whether it makes more sense to stay with that pack or tuck in and head out on your own. At the start, you’re with a big pack, but after that you’re on a big road section, so that decision has to be made. I think aerodynamics matter the most after you come down into the Fish Hatchery section.

Click here to read the full interview with Jeremiah Bishop by’s Tyler Benedict.

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