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Over the course of the seven-event Life Time Grand Prix, 70 elite cyclists will ride nearly 700 miles as they pedal across singletrack, high-alpine doubletrack, backroad gravel, and a touch of pavement toward their cut of a $250,000 purse. With four races under his belt so far—California’s 100-kilometer Sea Otter Classic, the 200-mile Unbound Gravel in Kansas, the 69-mile Crusher in the Tushar in Utah, and last weekend’s Leadville Trail 100 MTB—Durango-based (and Denver-born) Jack Odron sits tied in an enviable 18th place.
On August 12, Odron once again joined his fellow riders at the start line of the Leadville Trail 100 MTB. He just didn’t join them for a beer afterward—at 20, he’s one of just three participants below drinking age. (Isabella Hyser from Alabama and Ian Lopez de San Roman from California are both 19.)
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We caught up with Odron ahead of a four-hour training ride (he was tapering ahead of Leadville; previous outings averaged closer to seven hours in the saddle) to get a quantitative look at who this underage phenom is, where he’s been, and where he’s going.
July 11, 2022
Day Odron pedaled to a decisive first-place finish in the Silver Rush 50 MTB—and showed the cycling world he’s a name to know
When Odron signed up for the Silver Rush last year, it was just a formality: He needed a qualifying time for the much better-known Leadville Trail 100 MTB, the race his coach had recommended he enter. So, it came as a surprise when, halfway through the out-and-back course, he found himself riding solo behind the lead motorcycle.
“There’s one pretty long climb that’s loose and steep somewhere near the middle of the course,” he says. “I was going back toward Leadville, and all the other racers were riding or walking up that steep hill, and I remember everyone cheering and yelling for me. That was a super cool experience.” He finished the 50-mile race in just three hours and 35 minutes—more than seven minutes ahead of his closest competitor.
15.6 miles per hour
Odron’s average pace for the 2023 Leadville Trail 100 MTB
Last Saturday, Odron lined up for Leadville, a 105-mile (despite its name) course with nearly 12,000 feet of elevation gain. After six hours, 24 minutes, and 34 seconds in the saddle, he earned an 11th place finish among the 30 Grand Prix riders and 15th overall. “I spent lots of time riding with guys I’ve looked up to for a long time,” he says. And the best part? Friends and family were there to watch him finish. “Having such a rock-solid group in my corner truly makes all the difference.”
Another thing that makes a difference? A penchant for pain. “You really have to be comfortable with suffering and climbing a lot of hills and pedaling all day,” Odron says of long-distance races like Leadville and the Silver Rush. “That’s always been my jam.”
Number of sports Odron tried before finding his calling
Odron’s parents taught him to ride a bike in the grass of Denver’s Washington Park when he was about four years old. Through elementary and middle school, he would pedal around town with friends and occasionally ride to school, but “I wasn’t really into cycling.” Instead, he (halfheartedly) pursued basketball, lacrosse, soccer, and tennis. “To be honest, I didn’t enjoy any of them, and I wasn’t really good at any of them,” he laughs. “I didn’t feel super competitive or passionate about athletic sports.” As a freshman at Denver East High School, he recognized that he needed a hobby besides hanging out with friends. That’s when he stumbled upon his school’s mountain bike club.
Amount spent on his first mountain bike
Odron was ready to commit to the high school mountain bike club; he just needed to get a rig. “My family and I were shocked at how expensive it was,” he remembers. Today, he’s sponsored by Utah cycling brand, Fezzari Bicycles, and alternates between members of their gravel and mountain fleets. For Leadville, he decided to sacrifice the comfort of a full-suspension bike in order to save weight, so he rode a blinged-out Solitude hardtail with enough upgrades and customizations to ring up around $9,000.
Miles, according to Strava records, Odron has ridden since he started tracking
Odron enjoyed riding with his high school mountain bike team both freshman and sophomore years. Unfortunately, an injury sidelined him junior year, and COVID-19 snatched away his senior season. Yet he still had a niggling feeling that he wasn’t done with this biking thing. Curious to see where it might take him, he began training with a cycling coach in 2022 ahead of his freshman year at Fort Lewis College. It wasn’t long after that he first turned heads with his Silver Rush victory and began making a name for himself on the cycling scene.
Last December, after finding out he’d been accepted to the Life Time Grand Prix, he switched to online coursework and spent the next few months training in Tucson alongside Sofia Waite, an elite cross-country mountain bike racer on Team USA (she’s also his partner). “It’s been a lot to juggle, doing all of these races and trying to make it financially possible and still going to school and spending time with my family and friends and girlfriend,” he says. “At times, it’s been a little bit overwhelming.” But it’s worth it to pursue something he loves. “[Cycling] is what makes me happiest. I’m hoping that I’m able to find my way in the sport and make it sustainable, make it a career path.”
One through 10
Life Time Grand Prix finishers who receive a cut of the purse
Now more than halfway through the race series, Odron sits within striking distance of a top-10 finish and $6,000 pay-out. Having that money to put toward next year’s races would be nice, he says, but that’s not where his head is. “I am more focused on taking the whole season step by step and being consistent and proud of each race,” he says. Looking at the season in its entirety is daunting, he adds. “I’ve found it’s easier to just look at what’s right in front of you.”