Silver Rush mountain bike race winner trains in Winter Park for next Leadville race and beyond
Although Jack Odron hails from Denver and goes to school at Fort Lewis College in Durango, he decided to stay at a friend’s house in Winter Park this summer. Ordron races mountain bikes, and just like any endurance athlete would, wanted to get a competitive edge by training at a high elevation.
“Leadville is super high up,” Odron said. “If you don’t acclimate, it’s really hard. Even being from Denver, being at 5,000 feet, I feel like for me, personally, doesn’t even help that much. You gotta go up higher.”
Odron’s win came in his first time participating in the Silver Rush and qualified him for the Leadville Trail 100 MTB on Aug. 13, the main focus of his summer training. Odron described the 105-mile race and its 47.3-mile counterpart as endurance mountain bike races, and although he has success in one and looks forward to the other, they are not the discipline he wants to focus on.
The first experience Odron had with mountain bike racing came in high school when he joined a National Interscholastic Cycling Association team and started doing cross country races, which Odron described as “shorter” because they last only an hour to an hour and a half. Odron enjoyed racing and decided to start taking it more seriously.
“I got a little bit nicer of a bike,” Odron said. “I started racing a little bit more. I found a local development team out of Lakewood, Colorado, called Waite Endurance.”
On Waite’s under-23 cross-country team, Odron only raced parts of two seasons. Coronavirus cut the 2020 campaign short, and during a 2021 season Odron said was not going well, his coach suggested moving to longer races.
“(Odron’s coach) was racing Leadville last year and asked me if I wanted to train with him and try and race it,” Odron said. “I raced Leadville and I loved it. It was my first 100 mile race, but I got really lucky. I had no issues.”
With a time just under seven hours, Odron finished 17th overall and first in his age division in last year’s Leadville 100-miler. He said he qualified for the race through a lottery, which he will not have to worry about this year thanks to his Silver Rush win.
Making the shift to longer races meant Odron could not stay on Waite’s cross-country racing team, but the team’s coaches, husband and wife Cody and Kathy Waite, still train him. Odron had to put together his own group of sponsors and said he currently has five.
“It’s definitely something I’ve never done before, reaching out to brands and trying to meet people and build connections and stuff,” Odron said. “I think it’s like a really valuable skill and experience that I had, learning how to do that.”
Having Waite Endurance coach him is not Odron’s only connection to the family. Their daughter Sofia and Odron are dating.
Sofia competed in the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in Winter Park in July, where she finished seventh in the short track cross-country pro race and second in the under-23 cross country race. She will represent the United States at the 2022 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in late August.
“She’s way more legit than I am,” Odron said.
Odron said his future in racing will center around gravel races, which are similar to endurance mountain bike races in length but not in surface or equipment. Gravel races are not as rocky and have more pavement, Odron said, and racers use bikes with drop bars and knobby tires.
With three gravel races under his belt so far this year, Odron looks to race a few more before 2023. He said he might compete in a mountain bike stage race, the Pikes Peak Apex in Colorado Springs, from Sept. 22-25.
Depending on how his mountain bike and gravel schedule works out, Odron could also race collegiately, but he said the cross-country races in the collegiate league, which are shorter than gravel or endurance mountain bike races, are not his preferred discipline.
“If you’re more specialized to certain distances, it’s really hard to make that switch back,” Odron said.
Whatever lies on the road (or trail) ahead, Odron said he wants to race for as long as he can.
“It’s just what I love to do the most,” Odron said. “I’d obviously love to hopefully get paid or optimize support throughout the years and make it more sustainable. That’d obviously be really good.”
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