Friday, May 1, 2015

Race Report Whiskey 50 2015

The Whiskey has had my number.  Before last Saturday's, I had 3 starts, and one finish.  2012, I was in the fetal position on the side of the road, and needed a lot of water and food from a marshall to keep moving.  I paced behind his 4-wheeler up Copper Basin road, and might have grabbed on a few times.  That's a DSQ, though the time was recorded at nearly 8 hours.  2013, I ripped the derailleur of my bike at mile 10.  That ends your day on a dual suspension mountain bike.  2014 was epic -- a journey for sure but not quite the race you look for in Arizona in April.  5:51.  I came into the 2015 edition feeling pretty fast, and with a kind of crazy goal.  I made my first mark this year -- under 3:30 for the McDowell 40.  I was going for 4:30...

The Whiskey

I'll say it.  The Whiskey Off Road is the best one day race west of the Mississippi!  (Iceman gets the title east of the Mississippi)!  Yes, I know, I know.  Sacrilege to many what with Downieville, Leadville, Bailey Hundo, True Grit, Crusher in the Tushar, and countless others out here.  But this event really does it all.  A true mountain bike course that tests climbing, descending, and technical ability like no other I have ridden.  An in-town venue where the whole community supports and benefits from the event, beer garden, live music, close to camping for those who do it, great organization, and great people.  The amateur race is sandwiched by a pro criterium on Friday, and the pro XC on Sunday (and when I say pros, I mean pros...the world champion, national champion, etc. etc.).  You've got a whole weekend ready for the taking.  OK, enough gushing, time for the racing.


A friend said the Whiskey is not for the faint of heart.  I think she knows what she's talking about because everytime I see a picture of her on Facebook, seems like she's standing on a podium.  And while it's a little intimidating, it is a TON of fun.  So the particulars...

Almost 50 miles (48.5 miles according to Garmin).  7280' of climbing according to the official map (about 3000 of which comes at one time from miles 25 to 36).  I like to think of this course in 6 segments:

  1. Road climb out from the start. This is a 4.2 mile pavement climb.  It's pretty steep in spots. Key here is to go fast so you are not bottle necked on...
  2. Forest single track. About 7 miles, mostly up, mostly awesome. Tops out around 6800'
  3. Descent on trail 220 and forest road connector to copper basin road. Wicked downhill followed by a moderate climb before taking a left onto...
  4. 9 mile descent to Skull Valley. It's great because you know you get to turn around and...
  5. 14 mile HC climb to Sierra Pieretta overlook. Pain. 
  6. Last 10 miles. Mostly descent from Sierra Pieretta, plus "cramp hill", water crossings, the creek, and the road home.
Being my 4th year I knew exactly what I was getting into.  So after a 4am wake up, meeting up with my buddy Randy, 5am departure, 90 min drive to the start, and a little pre-race was time for the shotgun!

Racing Day!
Randy Ready to go on Whiskey Row
And really, that's what the Whiskey 2015 was about.  I drove up with my friend Randy.  I got to high-5 Kaolin, the combustible tumbleweed, before the start.  I got a hug from Kaolin at the finish.  I had a few minutes to chat with Rad Brad Keyes, and get a few half-evil single serves (which if you're an endurance person or pretend to be one, and you're not drinking half-evil for should try it) and CR Clean Bottles.  My friends Trina and Adrienne made the drive to ride some awesome singletrack and cheer us at the finish.  2/3 of the way up the climb from skull valley I got Fireball from the DC crew, which gave me the reason to keep the pedals turning those last few miles up that damn road.

Significantly for me, I got to wear my Shadetree jersey.  The Shadetree is the  first shop jersey I have ever owned. I'm not on a team, Not in "the club".  I don't make it to the weekly group ride - and likely couldn't keep up with it if I did.  Despite not being part of the lifestyle, Joey, Mark, Spencer, and the rest of the gang there have always treated me like I mattered.  They know that I'm not standing on any podiums, but having bikes that work, and work well is really really important.  Just as important for me as for the hard guys (and women) who finish races an hour before I do.  A good tune, round wheels and a shock that works can make the entire weekend (and therefore the week) sooo much better.  Shadetree represents what biking should be about in my mind -- turning pedals to have a great time.  And if that means going fast, or shredding singletrack, or just cruising to the bar, that's all good.  Joey's passion and craftsmanship are second to none.  I was proud to fly the colors, and hopefully Joey won't ask me to please not wear his jersey anymore.  

I'm sure it was the good mojo flowing through the Shadetree kit that made my day.  I PR'd everything, and on every section the course had someone giving me the "hey -- Shadetreeeeee".  I cheered for the DC guys going by, and got a few cheers in return.  Well, the CR half-evil and rocketlytes helped a lot too, but suffice it to say I put in a record time for myself on the course.  5:10 official.  4:58 according to Strava.  Top half of the field.  I'll take it.  4:30 was a bit of a pipe dream, and gives me a reason to sign up for 2016.

The Whiskey 50 2015 I got to check off three big items from the list.
  1) wear a shop jersey in a big race.  
  2) get a handup from the DC crew in a race (as Endless bike girl says:  "Drunkcyclist...making life worth living one fireball handup at a time" 
  3) Have a great day on the bike at the Whiskey.

done, done, and done.
If you're interested in the gory details of the lung busting climbs, insane downhills, and multiple (5, 6?) stream crossings, let me know and I'll email them to you.  Or look at the Strava here.  I had that post written up, but went with this one instead, because good friends, good people, and great vibes is what riding a race is all about for me.  


Rohit Bery Smile

This was a fast section...props to the photog!
I've looked better at the finish


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