The climbs burned his churning legs. The descents made Edmonton Oilers coach and personal fitness fanatic Dallas
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Eakins squeeze his handlebars so tight he could see his knuckles turning white.
When the shotgun was fired this past Saturday to signal the start of the Leadville 100, a grueling 104-mile, out-and-back, high-altitude bike race through the rough Rocky Mountain terrain, starting and finishing in Leadville, Colo., Eakins began a journey that would test his body, his mind and his resolve.
He finished in just over 11 hours, holding his daughter Emerson's hand as she ran beside his bike for the final few feet to the finish line.
"There are so many times when you start negotiating with yourself, like, 'What am I doing? I'm just going to quit,'" Eakins told NHL.com. "But you don't quit and you continue on through it."
Eakins has pedaled in the race (he doesn't use the word compete because, "I'm just trying to survive") since 2010 and once again his near half-day journey, which starts at an altitude of 10,152 feet and takes him as high as 12,424 feet, captured everything he is about and everything he wants his new players to know about him.