We drove the 9.5 hours straight through on Thursday. With good company (my hubbie) and a fast car (VW TDI), the drive went by quickly. Prescott is an interesting town. Although in Arizona, Prescott is definitely a mountain town sitting at >5000 feet elevation with lots of unique shops, restaurants, and bars lining downtown. Instead of having a Main Street, Prescott has Whiskey Row, which is appropriately named; from what I could tell there is a lot of partying in Prescott. Saturday night, Shannon and I took a walk downtown before bed. There was a live concert and people drinking and stumbling along the street. It reminded me of the rowdy late night walks back to the dorms in college although in Prescott this was the scene at 8:30 at evening!
Our lodging was this super cool retro lodge a short bike ride from the race venue. It really was quite cool and very comfortable. I wish I had photos. Immediately upon arrival Shannon's allergies and chronic sinusitus flared up. Cough, hack, sneeze, blow all weekend long.......
Racing started Friday evening for me with the fat tire crit. I don't have a lot of experience racing or riding in large groups on the road so I was quite nervous. The course consisted of two short super steep hills followed by a ripping descent, repeat for 20 minutes +3 laps. Lots of rowdy fans lining the course and cheering us on. Besides a bottleneck around the first corner, things spread out quickly enough that the racing seemed safe and since the course either went straight up or down drafting wasn't a big issue. I had a bit of a slow start, but was catching and passing racers each lap before I eventually was pulled. Although I am not exactly sure of my placing as results are incorrect, I was satisfied with my performance.
Racing my MTB on the road in the Fat Tire Crit
Saturday I supported Shannon during his Singlespeed race. Unfortunately he succumend to his allergies.
Sunday was the Pro race. Fifty miles, some 7000+ feet of climbing, an open course, and $40,000 on the line. The Pro Men went off at 8:30 and the women followed ten minutes later. Despite the relatively early morning start, the streets were lined with hundreds of spectators cheering us off. Apparently folks in Prescott are so good at partying that they don't get hung over!
The start of the women's pro race
Locals cheered from their lawn chairs as the race parade traveled from Whisky Row up to the mountain trails where the real racing began. Once the speed quickened, I couldn't stick with the leaders while maintaing a 50-mile sustainable pace, and I admittedly flailed on the steep climbs with logs and loose downhills, however I eventually did find my racing rhythm and was having a really, really, REALLY good time. As we approached the Skull Valley turnaround I was feeling well hydrated and ready to make some moves on the pivotal 13 mile climb back. That was until my tire started hissing. Long story short: found hole large enough to stick my finger through in the tread of my tire, took excruciatingly long to put a tube in, this random piece of metal fell out of my tire,
tube valve stem was flawed and tube wouldn't inflate, ran out of air and out of options as I watched the racers go by. Since the race was an out-and-back to Skull Valley, I saw the leaders of the race and was super psyched to see some of my Utah friends racing at the front. Huge shout out to Evelyn and Erica! Eventually a nice man sweeping the course with an off-road go-cart came along and offered to give me a ride to Skull Valley. Knowing that this would mean the end of my race, I was reluctant to accept the help, but I was out of options. I graciously took the ride and then got another ride back into town where I met Shannon.
Although disappointed and frustrated with my race, at the end of the day, if the worst thing that happens is I get a flat tire, while being healthy and strong enough to race my mountain bike at a fantastic event, on superb trails, with super awesome women, it is still a pretty good day! And while I did not conquer Whiskey 50 in 2013, I'm not one to give up easily. On our way out of town we made reservations for 2014. Redemption!