Probably a better question is where do you think you rank on the toughness scale? Where ever you think it is, prepare to move yourself down a few notches. I’ll admit it, I thought I was a little badass for doing some long distance mountain bike races, that is until I heard about Matt DeWitt.

I showed up at the Leadville 100 this year feeling pretty good and looking forward to the challenge. Since this was my third  go round with this race, I almost skipped the pre-race meeting. I’d been to two of them, they were pretty much identical to each other so I figured why go through the hassle. I did go to that meeting and I’m glad I did.

I can’t tell you if there was as much of an emphasis on veterans that were riding in the previous meetings but this year, the organizers spent a lot of time recognizing and honoring veterans that were competing. That was cool and the crowd was very supportive. Then Ken Chlouber, Mr. Leadville 100, talked about the vets riding for team Ride 2 Recovery. Vets who had all been injured and were using cycling as part of their recovery process. Things got emotional then.

Ken introduced Matt, a double amputee, and brought him to the stage along with the custom bike he would be using for the race. I don’t think there were many dry eyes in the place at that point.

Matt DeWitt

Here’s Matt during the Leadville 100

I didn’t see Matt on the race. I did see and chat with one of his teammates who was missing one arm. I joked with him about whether or not his prothesis gave him a weight penalty or a weight advantage. I check Matt’s stats after the race. He finished in just over 11 hours which is a great accomplishment for any athlete, a phenomenal one for a guy with no arms!

Ken’s mantra for Leadville competitors is, “you are better than you think you are.” Matt and his team mates take that to a new level and make me ask the question, if I had gone through what these guys have gone through, would I be out there? I like to think the answer is yea, I would, but I don’t know. I told my one-armed friend, during our short ride together, that whenever I got tired or thought things were tough, I’d think about him. When I said it, I was thinking just thinking about that race but I haven’t stopped thinking about him, Matt and what they’ve endured.