Cyclist only Steamboat man to complete Colorado Trail Race
August 11, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs local Donnie Haubert wanted to take on the ultimate challenge after he turned 40 in July.
He just wasn't sure what that was until one of his friends sent him a video promo of the Colorado Trail Race, a 500-mile single track race from Denver to Durango.
"I have a decent background of ultra races," Haubert said. "But never really anything that had me out in the wilderness for multiple days doing some endurance activity."
Haubert started his training in January, where he would push himself to ride his bike as long as he could, just to get used to the feel of being on the bike for six or more hours per day.
At 6 a.m. on Saturday, July 28, Haubert set out with a plan: Ride 100 miles per day and arrive at the finish in five days.
But he'd take an early fall 25 miles in while trying to avoid a wreck in front of him on the trail. The crash tweaked his knee and forced him to stop short of his goal the first day.
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"I was like, 'Is my race already over?'" Haubert said. "It's one of these things. I had to control my mental and emotional capacity. The first day was, by far, really tough for me because I thought I was going to bail on this race."
He rode 50 miles on the second day, making it to Copper Mountain before finding the strength to power through the remainder of the ride and make it in six days and six hours.
"I remembered in Denver, (race director) Stefan Griebel stands up, and he asked, 'How many people are rookies here? You're only a rookie once. Make it count,'" Haubert said. "What he said really stuck with me. I went from a rookie to a vet. I can retire, and there's guys who have tried this trail six to eight times and never finish it."
Griebel said it's people like Haubert who inspire him to organize the race every year, so he hopes he can inspire others in any way he can.
"To me, when I did it for the first time, I had never pushed myself that hard," Griebel said. "I think it's true. A lot of people who line up have never pushed themselves that hard and were about to, and today, being a rookie is looked down upon. But it's the best spot to be in because it's the freshest and most memorable."
Haubert said he would ride from midnight to 9 p.m. the following day, taking occasional breaks for meals or to load up on supplies in the larger towns like Copper or Leadville, which served as motivators along the route.
He slept for three hours every night before riding again.
The 200-mile stretch between Buena Vista and Silverton was also barren, so he stocked up on eight pounds of food and water, eating his last beef jerky bar at the top of Stony Pass before descending into town.
"Do it yourself. Don't ask for help. That was the cool aspect of this race," Haubert said. "You're only letting yourself down or setting yourself up for success, but working through that is daunting."
In Steamboat, just two days removed from his finish, Haubert said his body is catching up with him.
"When I was done, my body just let go. I realize how much the trail took a toll on me," Haubert said. "As it stands right now, my knee is sore, my hands are numb, and my toes are tingling."
Haubert said inspiration is important to bring with you when pushing your body to its limits. He took comfort in Griebel's speech and in the familiar beauty of the San Juan Mountains.
"Write it down and take it with you," Haubert said. "I'll tell you what, it's the freaking hardest thing I've ever done — always good to reinforce the reasons you're out there."
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