We don’t get many helicopters covering our MTB races here in the US anymore so it’s always a treat to have one hovering at the start. What can I say about the Whiskey 50 other then Epic Rides knows how to put on an event. It is definitely on my list of favorite races and I only wish I had raced it sooner.
The downtown crit on Friday night is pretty cool. The race has a two part stair step climb that really hurts so you’re either climbing or descending(think hill intervals). There is no prize money on the line and big race is only two days later so it’s a tough call how much you want to put into it. The crowd on the climb is awesome though so even if you want to take it easy, they get you pretty amped up. I opted to go for a prime with 3 laps to go and once I saw I wasn’t going to get a gap on the remainder of the field I sat up and soft pedaled it in. I think Ty Kady was the most animated person cheering on the climb that wasn’t dressed in a costume.
Saturday the amateurs race the 25 and 50 proof and then the Pros race on Sunday. I got out to check out the out and back dirt road section of the course down to skull valley during the amateur race. Always great to see so many people on bikes and the past two weekends have renewed my faith that the MTB is thriving here in the US and these long loop type of events are what people are looking to do. We definitely need to support races in the PROXCT but we also need to embrace these longer races like Whiskey and Leadville because that’s what the majority of people like to do and it’s great to mix things up as well.
The big race was on Sunday and we rolled out of Whiskey row at 8:30 am under cloudless blue skys with temperatures in the 60s. It is so nice having a relaxed start on the MTB rather then the anxiety that comes with the start of an XC race. We got to warm up with some fairly easy riding until we hit the first steep road climb about 15 minutes in. From there the race was on and I found myself riding with Kabush for most of the day. We worked really well together and increased our lead on the rest of the field all day. With about 10 miles to go Kaboom hit it going into the single track at the top of the dirt road climb and put 5-10 seconds on me. I kept the hammer down and started to pull him back a little until we hit cramp hill. I’ve only cramped a few times in my career but true to it’s name my leg started to lock up a bit and I lost sight of Kaboom by the top. I kept pushing it and with about 1 mile of single track left I somehow got a flat. There went my chance of catching Kabush but I changed the flat with out much problem even with a little kid standing right there asking her dad why I was doing that to my bike. I was still in second when I got going again since we had built up a fairly good gap but I must have cut the sidewall because I flatted again just a few minutes later. From there I was running/riding the rest of the single track and that’s when I got passed by Bishop for second. Once I hit the four miles of road into the finish I started to get passed by more and more riders and finally rolled in for 7th. It was a frustrating way to end an awesome day. I couldn’t believe how well the carbon wheels held up though riding them on a flat. They have become stronger and stronger every year.
I would highly suggest the Whiskey 50 to any mountain biker, it should be on your bucket list of events. The trails are awesome, there is some fire road to help get the mileage but the fun factor is way up there. The weather is perfect and you can compare your time to the top Pros. I only wish I had stayed there longer so I could really take in the town and spend some time on Whiskey row sampling it’s namesake.
On a side note, for those of you that thought Martinez winning the Sea Otter was fluke, I saw he was third this weekend at the Trofeo Delcar C1 race in Italy this weekend, one spot in front of Marco Fontana and less then 1 minute down on the winner, guess he’s back.
I have a little bit of downtime now after a nice spring campaign and then it’s a short build and off to Europe for the first World Cup.
Good to see Travis Brown on the cover of this month’s BIKE
I wonder what The Schmooz is doing right now…….