Monday, April 30, 2012

Whiskey Off-Road 50 XC

Sunday's 50 mile race was the official start to my season.  With a start list that looked very reminiscent of Sea Otter, it was surely going to be anything but a "fun" race.   Don't get me wrong, I am always racing my bike to have fun, this IS why I continue to compete, all I am saying is that there was definitely some suffering involved.

The race begins with a "neutral" rollout on pavement, mostly uphill for 4 miles.  The road gets quite steep towards the top and gets close to 20% at one point.  While riding in the middle of the pack, I rubbed handlebars with another rider and wouldn't you know it we both hit the deck and crashed.  Not even 2 miles into the race and I am on the ground.  After a few quick words exchanged we were back on our bikes chasing to catch back onto the pack.  After increasing my HR up to near max, I was back on and able to settle in just long enough before everyone began to jockey for position as we entered the beginning of the singletrack section.

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This is where the "fun"  began as the course it pretty sweet...lots of rocks, tight switchbacks, and fast rolling terrain.  There was much more climbing than I recall the last time I did this race.  The first 12 miles seemed to be nothing but climbing.  Once we did begin to descend, it was well worth the effort that I had just put in.  The singletrack descent was lots of banked corners and many water-bar drop offs (some close to 2 feet).  This lasted a few miles before reaching the fireroad that lead down to Skull Valley.  We descended down to Skull Valley just to turn around and begin a 16 mile climb to the top of the road.  I was hoping to have power in my legs on this climb than I did.  The majority of the climbing was on an 8% grade, and I had hoped to make up some time on other riders here. Unfortunately, I only had 1 speed in my legs and wasn't able to make up much time.  No one passed me and I only passed 2 riders the whole climb.  The climb was exposed to the sun the entire time, and I don;t remember the altitude we reached but it was relatively high (although not by Colorado standards, and there were many CO riders competing).  I would say that I suffered on this climb more than I thought I would.

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Once I reached the summit and entered the last section of singletrack, I was reminded just how "fun" this race was.  This section of singletrack  (roughly 9 miles) was probably the most enjoyable.  However, along this section I must have nicked my tire on a rock because I could hear some Stan's oozing out.  I kept on riding hoping that the sealant would seal the tire, however, it got too low so I stopped to change the flat, a few riders had passed by.  There were spectators watching the race at various points along this section of the course.  It was nice to hear the cheers to provide that extra bit of encouragement and help block out the pain.  There was one creek crossing that was somewhat challenging with lots of rocks, and there were lots of people there cheering.  From there the trail meandered along a river (dried up mostly) before popping back out onto pavement for the final 4 miles to the finish.   It's mostly downhill but it certainly wasn't easy.
Making the final turn to the finish, many kids were reaching out to get a high-five.  Giving a few high fives was a great way to end 3 hours and 20 min. in the saddle.

Click HERE for's full report

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