This year I made my second trip to Prescott AZ for the Whiskey 50, which is actually an entire weekend of racing. Starting with the pro crit on Friday night right in the town of Prescott, then the amateurs race on Saturday followed by the pro race on Sunday. The last time I came down for the Whisky, the weather unleashed full on blizzard conditions for the amateur race but turned to perfect conditions for the pro race day. This year’s weather was not looking to be very good, with rain predicted for the entire weekend we crossed our fingers and hopped for the best.
The crit is so far off of the radar of what I’m used to doing, the course is less than a mile in town up a big climb, then down you negotiate a couple corners through town then back to the climb and you do this for 20 minutes and then 3 more laps, sounds like fun right? Wrong, it’s full gas the whole time and you have a bunch off mountain bikers who don’t usually race in big packs what could go wrong? Right off of the start, two guys tangled up in front of my and I slammed the brakes on and barley missed them, the climb is a brute and it was full sprint every time. I stayed with the main pack for about 5 or 6 laps then I started to loose contact and got stuck in no mans land and killed myself trying bridge the gap. I was basically drooling on myself by this time and lots of men had dropped out and there was only a small group behind me, they had caught back up to me and we were at the three laps to go but I had nothing left so I dropped off. I felt much better than the last time I did this but still it was so damn hard.
On Saturday we lounged around went for a leisurely ride and checked out the amateur race and whisky row were there were tons of venders in an almost fair atmosphere. The amateur race drew almost 2000 people making this one of the largest mountain bike races in the country. Epic Rides does a great job with this race, which is a big reason why it’s become so popular. There were bands playing every night and the town square was a great place to eat food, listen to music and do some people watching. It rained off and on all day Saturday and the weather was not looking good for the pro race on Sunday. That night it rained fairly hard but stopped about midnight.
When race day arrived, it was cloudy but not raining although rain was still in the forecast it was looking like we may get lucky and avoid getting hammered on. This year they had added more single track to the start of the race making the course about 20 minutes longer than previous years. The race started out fast, but not crazy and we had about 2 miles of pavement then on to double track for another mile or so and onto the single track. Things got spread out pretty well by the time we hit the trail and I was about mid pack.
I definitely wasn’t feeling that great out of the start and was hoping that my legs would kick in later. When we reached skull valley I was somewhere in the top 30 and feeling much better, when you hit the bottom of skull valley you have about a 16 mile climb up a progressively steeper dirt road, the riding had been fun until this point but now I was finally feeling good and able to push up the hard climb.
At the top you drop into single track for the final push to town, thankfully you do get rewarded for all that work with some fast fun and technical riding. I was trying to push hard in this section and I new there were people right on my heels. After the long hard climb my legs were seizing up with bad cramps and was trying hard to just keep the pedals turning. I wanted to get in the top 30 and I figured I was close to being in that but had to fight for every spot, I did end up holding on to my position thankfully because I just squeaked out 30th. Even though this is not the distance I like to race, it was a fun time and I always love to see all of my mountain bike family.