It all started in 2007 over a beer with my husband, Al and Minnesota friends Jon Sandberg, Collin Hatcher and Chris Sur.
“Let’s all ride this race called Leadville 100 MTB!”
At the finish line, Al, Jon, Collin and Chris agreed Leadville the hardest race they’d ever done and declared “One and done!” But that story quickly changed when then they saw me come in on a 4-wheeler driven by Cole Chlouber after race founder Ken Chlouber swept the course and cut my medical tag at mile 84.
I was the last rider to make the Pipeline 2 check point at mile 75 by 10 seconds, but I later found myself in the hurt locker going up Powerline. I preface my DNF with riding/hiking Powerline by myself that year. The day before the race, I had severe altitude sickness. I couldn’t keep food down and had a severe headache. There was NO one on the course except for one gal I passed half way up. She turned out to be a negative Nelly. Suffering from the effects of altitude sickness and a poor companion, I quit.
I told the guys, “We’re coming back in 2008. I will finish this race!”
Ken told my husband, “She could have finished. Get a grip on training and acclimatization and sign up again!” So we did! But, for the next year, Ken’s quote “I commit, I won’t quit” haunted me.
Fortunately, we got in to the 2008 race and brought some new friends along, including Bahram Akradi, CEO and Founder of Life Time Fitness. It was perfect timing: Leadville needed a new title sponsor, and with his passion for cycling, Bahram and Life Time Fitness were the perfect match.
Bahram and I rode together in 2008. Of the field of 800, almost half didn’t cross the finish line. I finished, but I was just a hair over 12 hours. I was ecstatic to redeem myself, but disappointed I didn’t get the famous buckle for finishers under 12 hours.
Since 2008, I’ve successfully completed Leadville 10 more times. Making the whole experience even more special was riding several miles of the race each year from 2008-2018 with Bahram. Ten years and 1180 miles later, I rode the final 15 miles with him in this year’s race.
By mile 89 you don’t really have the energy to talk: you’re digging deep. Riding alongside someone with similar goals, aspirations and a zeal for reaching one’s best potential is incredibly uplifting. For Bahram, the race was all about raising more than $800,000 for the Legacy Foundation.
For me, it was as simple as finishing what I started back in 2007. I also wanted the coveted 1000-mile buckle. To earn the buckle, you must have 10 finishes under 12 hours. Only 51 Leadville 100 MTB riders, and just a handful of women, have earned this buckle. Together, Bahram and I rode to the finish line, side-by-side, grinning ear-to-ear, to earn my buckle. I joined my husband and friends, Al Iverson, Jon Sandberg, Ken Zylstra, and Sammy Beveridge, who have also earned their 1000 mile buckles.
A special thanks to the Leadville family of Ken and Merilee and Pat Chlouber; our Life Time Fitness family; my KÜHL training family; and all the friends we’ve made through the years. They’ve all encouraged, crewed and trained with us tirelessly. It’s truly an Iverson family endeavor. Our son, Josh, crewed us for the first nine years and raced with us the last two.
We have so many more miles yet to ride, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!
Patty Iverson is a member of the KÜHL Cycling team. This year she completed her 11th Leadville MTB 100 and earned her 1000-mile buckle for completing the race in under 12 hours 10 times.