Summit County resident and mountain bike racing rookie places third in Leadville’s Silver Rush 50
The Silver Rush 50 mountain bike race in Leadville is known for being one of the most challenging courses in the nation. The sister race to the Leadville Trail 100-mile mountain bike race — the Silver Rush 50-miler packs more elevation gain per mile with nearly 7,000 feet of vertical gain at 10,000 feet above sea level.
On Sunday, July 10, the challenging course proved to be nothing to fret about for Frisco resident Nolan Van Harte. The eight-year Summit resident made himself look like a seasoned veteran on the Silver Rush 50 course, dominating steep climbs and navigating technical downhill sections.
In many ways, Van Harte was a dark horse in the race, but he was able to notch a podium finish by placing third overall in a time of 3 hours, 45 minutes and 39 seconds. What makes the feat even more impressive is that Van Harte is fairly new to the competitive mountain biking scene.
“This was my first time racing the Silver Rush,” Van Harte said. “I really only have been racing competitively for two years, so it is all very new to me. Silver Rush was definitely the biggest race I have been a part of with the most competitors and scene around the event.”
Van Harte, 26, got into racing in large part because of the love he has for riding his bike. Van Harte often spends his days on the trail, out in the wilderness and logging major miles on his bike.
“I got into racing doing some ultras with the Colorado Endurance Series, and I did my first race — not too competitively — three seasons ago and did alright,” Van Harte said. “That’s when I found a new love for racing. I like to see how hard I can push my body.”
Van Harte’s love for the outdoors is reflected through his job at Copper Mountain Resort, where he serves as a ski patroller and avalanche forecaster.
Coming into the Silver Rush 50, Van Harte expected to place within the top 10, but it was because of the steep riding available in Summit County that Van Harte feels he was able to excel past his expectation at the Silver Rush 50.
“I am used to riding super steep mining roads in the county,” Van Harte said. “I ride all around the county and like the Colorado Trail. Wheeler and Miners Creek are my favorite trails up here. I try to mix it up every day, and that’s just why I like biking — seeing above treeline and seeing cool places.”
This training proved to be extremely beneficial since Van Harte steadily moved up throughout the race.
The Silver Rush 50 begins with participants running with their bikes to the top of the Dutch Henry tubing hill.
At the top of the hill Van Harte was already within the top 10% of the race, ranked 43rd out of 403 participants. Wanting to be in the top pack, Van Harte didn’t grow complacent but rather upped his effort in order to put himself with the top participants in the race.
“I did as much passing as possible in the first 4 miles, and then I thought I was riding with the front group because I saw some dirt being kicked up,” Van Harte said. “I discovered the dust that was being kicked up was actually the dirt bike that was pacing the race.”
Van Harte says he was first caught off guard to find himself at the front of the race — leading the rest of the field — but the brief moment of shock was quickly replaced with a sense of confidence as Van Harte realized he had the potential to podium.
Van Harte led for the majority of the race, but around the halfway point his power started to drop off. Van Harte focused on continuing to get in solid nutrition during the race but was eventually passed by Jack Odron and Henry Nelson near the finish.
Despite giving up the lead in the final stages of the race, Van Harte couldn’t be more pleased with his third place performance.
“I am super excited about how it all went,” Van Harte said. “A podium was really awesome to experience.”
Although Van Harte didn’t view the course as super challenging — due to his training in Summit County — Van Harte was most challenged by keeping up a hard effort for 50 miles.
The race result gives Van Harte confidence as he prepares for more summer mountain bike races throughout the next few weeks. This summer Van Harte has been averaging 180 to 190 miles a week on all singletrack trails.
Van Harte is hoping his training will fuel him as he prepares to race in the six-day Breck Epic mountain bike race from Aug. 14-19 and the Vapor Trail 125 in Salida from Aug. 25-26.
The Breck Epic will be another huge race for Van Harte as he will face off against a huge field of competitive mountain bikers.
“I have never raced that before, but I am really excited because it is all the trails I ride all the time,” Van Harte said. “It will be a very stacked competition with some seasoned pros.”
For a full list of results from the Silver Rush 50 mountain bike race visit, Athlinks.com.
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