Friday, May 2, 2014

Whiskey Off Road 2014

Fair warning. I'm feeling like I've lost my Mojo. 3 races gone by and no real report. I love riding, racing, and writing about it. And yet, 3 races and no report. I'm even slipping on the training rides. 

(Actually, I know where my Mojo is. It is in the garage, hanging upside down waiting to be turned into a singlespeed or a gravel grinder once I decide to drop some more cash at the Flat Tire. But that's a totally different post indnt it?). 

So where was I...lost my mojo. I'm getting it back. I'm getting it back by imposing a Whiskey Off Road race report on you that tells you just how awesome it was.

Some background.

 The Whiskey is simply an amazing event. 3 days for those who can swing it of partying, pro goggling and racing.  Bands, bikes, beer, a race course with an HC climb and white knuckle descents. Blazing fast forest single track to desert rocks to rock gardens nasty enough the top pros can't navigate them.  Bacon, whiskey, and donut hand-ups from screaming supporters even for us scmhos... A laid back vibe that somehow manages to generate intense competition all at the same time.  The Whiskey is as close to the perfect bike race as is put on. Full Stoke. Plus, it's in Prescott, AZ in April, so it's always 70 degrees and sunny...

Racing Day
With the Backyardigans as my soundtrack I got my coffee and toast, checked the somewhat unnerving weather reports again, and threw all the clothes I wore for iceman on for the 90 minute drive to Prescott.

As I gained elevation and lattitude, the temperature came down steadily. 79 when I left Scottsdale, 34 by the time I rolled down Montezuma street. And it was raining. Hard.  Like fast wipers hard. It was weather even racers at Iceman don't look forward to...

Being my 3rd year, I had my Whiskey routine down to a science. Wake up at 4:15am, leave by 4:45 or 5:00, get there by 6:15am, park in the structure behind Gurley street. get the race number, set up the bike, pee, get in line by 7:00 for the 7:30 start. Now, the folks at Epic Rides make it pretty explicit you're supposed to pick up your packet on Friday night, but that's a bit of a drive (90 min each way), seems wasteful on the gas, and would mean another missed dinner and bedtime for the kiddos.  The past 2 years it had been no issue whatsoever to get the number on Saturday morning... Not so this year pardner!  

Perhaps the weather, perhaps a rocking party on Friday night, but there was no one handing out race numbers around 630.  Quite a few of us waiting, but no numbers. So, I ran back to the car, got the bike out, peed, and went back to check about my race packet. 

Still raining. 

Luckily, the Epic Rides staffer came by, gave me a good and well deserved scolding for not picking up on Friday, handed me a number and wished me luck. She also made it clear that next year, it's Friday. Got it...but now it's time to race. 

Number now tied on, dressed for November in Michigan up I got myself into a gap in the fence and jumped in line about 1/2 way up the field. I took stock of my fellow insane racers under the sign marked "faster than most of my friends". Must say we looked a sorry lot. I was pretty well
prepped...proper gore jacket (though I could have done with my rain jacket), thermal bibs, gloves. I was just a little cold in the stiff wind and steady rain...which is exactly how I like to feel temperature wise before a long race. After all soon, I would be charging up a cat 2 climb, passing as many as possible to avoid bottlenecks in the singletrack. 

Around me was quite the cast of characters. A few in full Rapha cold and wet race kit -- ready for Paris-Roubaix or Milan-San Romeo by their look -- more than a few in garbage bags, shower caps, nitrile gloves...and a few other in summer race kit and rain cape. seriously?  Had theae people never rudder a bike in weather?  Did they not read a weather report?  Did they think they were tour riders needing to show off their sponsor logos?  I guffawed. I sniffed at their silliness!  Actually, I coughed and sniffled the stuff coming out of my nose. 

There was a bit of a fire-up from the PA before the shotgun blast (a real one!) set us off and racing.

Just as the snow started. 

We'll pick up there next time. 

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