The days leading Whiskey 50 in Arizona were hectic swapping parts and changing equipment for the race after the Sea Otter carnage. I was up late triple checking all my stuff to make sure I had everything I needed for the weekend. I usually check over my stuff a few times then don’t second guess what I have. My early flight on Friday only allowed me three hours of sleep rising at 3 am. Once I was on the plane my nerves settled a little knowing I had everything and was on my way. It was only the two passengers next to me that got my nerves shaken up a little. After landing I waited around forty-five minutes to meet my buddy coming in from Colorado to make the drive to Prescott. I’ve never been to this event before, nor the town of Prescott which I found out is pronounced, “press-kit.” On the drive to Prescott we kept passing elevation markers, great! It actually wasn’t too bad, but the start being just over a mile above sea level had me a little nervous given my history in altitude. When I was living in Boulder and training above town, I had no problem going up
to any elevation a race could provide. But being down at sea level now going way up can have adverse affects.
We made good time to the event and I went straight to the pro race meeting at the town theater. It was here that I finally got a short stint of sleep. As other racers were taking in the details of the course I was drooling on my shoulder like a child crashing off a sugar high. Next, I checked into my hotel, built up my bike and ate a small lunch. The time passed quickly and I got geared up to head downtown for the fat tire crit. It was an awesome and brutal race right downtown packed with large crowds. I love racing short track, but the first one of the year is always the hardest and this one was no exception. The all road track was one to test the best. The course went up then down, with very little time to recover after a hard two-stage climb. The wide two lane road formed a few rows of 20 abreast at the start. The gun fired and it was on like a typical short track; full gas for 20 minutes plus 3 laps. After surviving that one it was hard to believe it’s been as long as it has for my lungs to burn like they did.
My buddies woke up early Saturday morning for the single speed xc as I slept in long enough to catch them finish. Refreshed from a full night sleep, I took a shower, rolled into town to grab an espresso, and then watched them roll their ragged bodies through the finish after a 50 mile trek. After that I continued on for an easy spin through the first section of my Sunday race. Then I checked out the town a little more, ate some food, and then took some more rest.
With our eight o’clock start time I woke up at five and was at the breakfast joint I scoped the day before at opening. The “waffle house” might sound like some suburban chain restaurant, but this spot was the real deal. The tired looking waitress calling you all the typical things you’d expect; “what would you like honey,” “more coffee sweetie.” The food was great and filling, just what I needed for the race ahead. I’ve been mending a bothersome right leg all season; the Whiskey 50 was the second tipping point. It really came on the worst racing Wednesday night short track the week following. I had some work done in February that helped quite a bit, then I’ve let it linger too long since the season began. The Whiskey was painful on my leg. Both the short track and xc hurt but I settled in and took what I had and made the best I could. Constantly pedaling with more emphasis on one leg harder than the other is kind of a mind trick, hopefully next week everything will be sorted out.
The first couple miles of the course were on road up a gradual climb. The last mile leading to the dirt was very steep, and as the pace picked up my body was feeling weak. Knowing how many miles lied ahead and having a good base from the winter I laid off blasting myself into pieces trying to stay on pace. The trails out in Prescott are awesome and I think the course only touched a few of them. As the race went on I felt stronger. I settled into a good group on the descent into skull valley before the 12 mile climb back out. Once rounding the out and back cone I knew it was time to pick it up, and did. We climbed and climbed, but it went by reasonably fast and I was thinking about the descent back into town. The race finishes with a 10ish mile descent; might as well after all that climbing. I saw a buddy at the crest of the climb who yelled out to me to drill it and I could catch two more guys. I did just that and ended up making up quite a few positions passing seven guys on the run into the finish.
Racing back into town was awesome! The streets were packed with people and kids leaning over the barricades to slap you five. The Whiskey 50 is undoubtedly one of the greatest races in the US today, and I hope to be back next year. The weekend following is Boggs 8 hour where I will be competing as a 3-man relay team. Then out to the NorCal high school state championships down in Marin Bikes hometown of Novato.