Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Whiskey Off Road - An Amazing Weekend in Prescott

Rain Rain Go Away!  I swear it has been raining non-stop since we got back from Arizona!  Minneapolis is drenched and I am worried the trails here may never ever dry out!  I do have a few rest days on tap this week so I guess if I had to pick one week for it to rain...this would probably be it.

However, this rain is definitely not helping me get over my love affair with Prescott!!  I freaking love that little town, it’s trails, it’s super cute restaurants and of course it’s lovely people.  Everyone was so nice all weekend long, it absolutely felt like home and we can’t wait to go back next year!!
The Whiskey Off Road pro event features a Friday night fat tire crit which each pro racer is required to start.  It takes place on paved road and involves one of the most brutal double climbs I could ever imagine someone sane putting into a crit race.  Also, considering the lap was super short (around 2.5-3 minutes) this meant I would get to enjoy this brutal climb multiple times!  Since this was a required race there were a few racers that “took it easy” saving their energy for the main race on Sunday.  I suppose this makes some sense, however I had packed my bike onto a plane so that I could RACE it and there was no way I was going to miss out on two chances in one weekend! 

Luckily the majority of pros raced hard and it wasn’t too long into the race that I was already flung off the back of the front pack and dying to hold on. I could hear myself breathing ridiculous hard and my lungs afterwards were totally hashed. The crowds on the climb were incredible and it was so fun to be racing in that atmosphere!!  I managed to ride to an 18th place finish and what felt like a huge improvement from Bonelli.
Saturday we woke up to pouring rain and freezing cold temperatures. WTF?  I thought Arizona was warm, dry and sunny? Huge congrats to all the racers that bundled up, flared their nostrils and turned a crappy day into an amazing one.  A big shout out to MN local Hurl that battled the beast of a day and in the end road to the finish!   Since it was raining I did the most logical thing I could think of for a rainy day…I got a pedicure!!! 

Then when the rain finally dissappeared I took my bike out for a spin and to check out the beginning section of single track.  Everything was going smooth until the first downhill when I realized OH CRAP!  Something was seriously wrong with my front brake!  It was as if it had taken a nap after the crit and never woke up!  Huge thanks to High Gear Bike Shop for saving the day in the final hour!  They were so nice to help me out last minute and even served Tom and I free coffee  and conversation while we admired their super massive shop cat named Basso (after Ivan of course)! 

Finally it was Sunday and time for the main event!! I woke up and had my usual French toast and was feeling great at the start.
My Friday finish was solid enough to land me a call-up in the second row!  The crowd at the start was full of energy and I was beyond stoked for the day ahead.  The gun went off and  we slowly rolled our way safely out of the starting gate.  The initial pace was really quite controlled and comfortable as we worked our way up the initial 4 mile climb.  Also, It was EXTREMELY QUIET… as if no rider made a single sound for the first 10 minutes until someone finally laughed.  All I could hear was the rolling sound of our tires and fans on the side of the road cheering!  It was surreal and one of the coolest moments I can remember in my athletic career.  I tried to soak that moment in as much as possible and reflected on the fact that nothing is ever like the first time.

Okay enough of that…you are in a race!!  Finally the pace picked up towards the top of the climb and as we made our way on to dirt I fell off the main pace of the front group and really was generally not pleased with how I was feeling.  Thankfully once we hit single track I caught my breath a bit and started to flow passing a few girls as we worked our way up the first section of single track which included a ton of step ups and drop offs and then a really awesome loose descent.  Then soon enough we were making a left turn and descending down to Skull Valley – yeh half way!!  The descent was fast and fun!! However what goes down…must go up.  I grabbed a fresh bottle from Tom via a very sketchy exchange on our part that involved Tom flinging his sandals, dropping his IPhone and running after me with my EFS gel flask. Oops!  In the end I got what I needed :) and I began steadily working my way up the 11.5 mile climb.  The truth is that I felt really strong for about 45 minutes, but the last 30 minutes really sucked!!  Being from MN I can probably count on one hand the number of times that I’ve climbed for 1:15+ consecutively so it makes sense...but I am dying to have a rematch with this climb.  I so wish next year was next week!! 

The final 12 miles were mostly downhill single-track with some sweet rock gardens and then one hill that apparently had earned the coveted name “Cramp Hill.” During the race when I came up to this climb it pretty much went like this.  “Hmm, I wonder if this is that Cramp Hill they are (HAMSTRING CRAMP!!!!) talking about?”  With about 5 miles left in the race I was riding crash free and for the most part happy with how the race had been going when I rode up to Tom.  He was cheering loudly for me on the final section of single track and I think I got distracted when I was trying to get up a punchy 5 foot climb. At least that’s my excuse for pretty much toppling over on my bike and sliding down the embankment. It’s hard for me to be embarrassed in front of Tom, but I will admit…I was slightly embarrassed, ha!!  I hammered the final 4 miles of pavement down to town and was stoked to roll in 24th out of 34 pro women!!  
Huge thanks to Epic Rides for putting on what truly was an epic weekend.  There is nothing I love more than a well-run, well supported, race event. There was tons of energy and every small detail was top notch.  Keep doing what you are doing…it’s contagious.  See ya folks again in a faster 2015!!!

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