From the Ground Up debuted in 2021 with three novice riders training to take on the Leadville 100 bike race in the mountains of Colorado. The Leadville 100 is arguably one of the most difficult bike races in the country. While the route doesn’t involve a lot of singletrack, the terrain is so rough that it requires a mountain bike. As one of the highest incorporated cities in the nation, Leadville sits at 10,200 feet. So, it’s already a challenge to do anything physically demanding. The day-long event requires riders to climb and descend more than 11,000 feet over the course of 100-miles.

Professional mountain bike racers, Ryan Petry and Alexey Vermeulen thought up the idea as a way to get more people interested in mountain biking, and to remove some of the barriers to racing. In collaboration with several sponsors and professional coaches, they decided to take three riders, new to the sport of mountain biking, and prepare them for one of the biggest challenges imaginable.

In its first year, Petry and Vermeulen chose three riders from a pool of over 1,200 applications, which involved reading each applicant’s basic information, and watching a video that each created explaining why they should be chosen. Shawna Anderson, 47, from northern Wisconsin, Enzo Moscarella, 34, from New York City, and Roberta Nunez, 30, from Boston, all trained for months before the event in August.

More From Bicycling
preview for HDM All Sections Playlist - Bicycling

In 2022, a whole new set of riders took on the challenge. Rachel Crain, 28, from Boulder, Colorado, David Olague, 34, from San Fernando, California, and Johanna Appel, 44, from Weddington, North Carolina. And this month, Petry and Vermeulen are choosing three more riders to take on the challenge. Applications opened on February 1, and will be open until February 19. They’re once again looking for riders who are generally new to the sport, but have bike-riding basics.

Why a third season? Even though none of the athletes have completed the entire Leadville 100 race in the designated cutoff time, what Petry and Vermeulen have continued to be amazed by is that this is life changing for all involved. It’s not just six months of training and racing, it’s opening a door to a whole new world—it’s growing a family. Crossing a finish line is one small piece of the experience—the real success is finding a lifelong community and learning all that you’re capable of.

BicyclingBicycling Lettermark logo
Micah Ling
Freelance Writer

Micah Ling is a freelance writer based out of Salida, Colorado. She splits her time in the mountains biking and trail running. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.