Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Whiskey Off-Road 50 Report

I have been wanting to do this race for several years and finally was able to make it happen this season. The Whiskey Off-Road 50 takes place in Prescott, AZ at elevations between 5,000 and 7,000 ft. There are actually 3 separate distances to choose from; 15 mile, 25 mile, and 50 mile. However, they prefer to call the mileages "proofs" instead; hence the name Whiskey. I did the 50 proof.

With a pretty strong field of riders; including Tinker, Andy Schultz and Dana Weber I was hoping for a Top 5. I had been feeling pretty good coming into the race, although only having 1 road race under my legs I wasn't sure how they would respond. There is roughly 7,000 ft of elevation gain in the race, with most of it coming on fire roads. The race begins downtown with a police escort out of town until the pavement turns to dirt. The pace from the gun was intense, much like a XC race. For nearly 4 miles the race was on pavement and most of it is all uphill and pretty steep. With the fast pace small groups began to develop. I was on the back of the lead group (about 8 riders) once we hit the dirt and into the singletrack. I had exerted a good amount of energy but recovered quickly. The singletrack sections of the race were pretty sweet; lots of rocks and hard pack dirt. By the time we reached the first downhill section I realized I didn't have enough air n my front fork. I had just had it serviced by DT Swiss and didn't remember how much pressure I was running in it before sending it in (user error). There were several water boards (to prevent erosion) and after the first dropoff my fork completely bottomed out. From that point on I had the fork partially locked out on the downhill sections to prevent any more bottoming out. I don't think I lost much time because of this, it just made it a little less comfortable.

After several miles of rolling singletrack, some downhills, and a short climb, the long descent to Skull Valley came. This was a 12 mile descent on a fire road, which we would then turn around and climb back up after reaching Skull Valley. On the descent I worked with one other rider to catch 4 other riders. By the time we all reached the turn around point I was in the third group of leaders, about 4-5 minutes of the lead. Now began the long climb back up to the summit. I was working with Jeremy Thatcher and Scott Keller for most of the climb before Jeremy and I rode alone. With 2 miles to the top he opened up a gap on me that I couldn't close. Once we reached the summit we entered the final singletrack sections that was totally rewarding. After climbing for nearly an hour it was a nice reward and made all the suffering go away. Lots of rocks and fast flowing singletrack for the next 5 miles before getting back on the pavement for the final run in to the finish. I could see Jeremy and one other rider in front of me but couldn't catch them. I finished the race strong and good enough for 10th place out of 200+ riders. The winner, Andy Schultz finished just over 12 minutes ahead of me. I believe Tinker was in the lead with only a few miles left, but apparently he made a wrong turn and got lost.

# Rider Name / Result
1 Andy Schultz 3:17:50
2 Jeff Herrera 0:00:03
3 Lance Runyan 0:00:16
4 Daniel Matheny 0:05:16
5 Will White 0:09:27
6 Yuki Saito 0:10:23
7 Jeremy Thatcher 0:11:04
8 Scott Keller 0:11:40
9 Eric Salstrand 0:12:04
10 Sloane Anderson 0:12:23

It was a great race and the post-race festivities were just as good. After changing clothes and getting something to eat, we had a few beers at one of the saloons (there are many) and then watched the last of several bands that played in the town square throughout the afternoon. The band was Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers (formerly known as The Refreshments). With the weather still in the 70's, it was a perfect way to relax after riding hard for 3.5 hours.

My season has officially begun and I am happy where my fitness is. Once again I was completely happy with how the BMC FS01 rode. The combination of lightweight and comfort kept me feeling strong for the entire race. Using the Ergon GX2 Carbon grips kept my upper body relaxed and hands/wrists comfortable. I am soon going to switch to using the new GX3, which utilizes a longer and more ergonomical bar end.

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