Late 2017 I was asked by some friends if I wanted to head down to the Whiskey 50 race in Prescott Arizona then continue for a bikecation after the race. After clearing it with Amanda I signed up early and started/continued my training. The group I was heading out there with was a combination of people who have raced the Whiskey before Andy, Josh, Tom and Megan and new riders like Jessie and I. Dave would also be joining us, although not racing his expertise came in the second part of the trip. To add a little extra fun Megan was going to be racing in the pro category this year after a dominating performance at the 2017 edition of the amature race.
The race course
2018 was the 15th edition of the Whiskey 50 and part of the Epic race series. The race is around 50 miles and starts in down town Prescott. It climbs out of town for around 5 miles on pavement and dirt roads before joining some double track which turns to singletrack as it descends. At around mile 12 we start climbing a jeep trail to an out and back section (around 18 miles) along Skull Valley. It then climbed a little more to Sierra Prietta before entering a roughly 10mile singletrack descent until we joined the road for the remaining 4miles of downhill back into town and the finish.
The Trip (the Prescott Part)
Day 1 - Wednesday - Course preview and shakedown ride
I took an overnight flight to Phoenix where Tom was waiting to give me a ride up to Andy's house in Prescott. We arrived early afternoon and got the bikes put together before heading out for a short recon/shakedown ride on of part of the course. I should add this was the first time I had ridden my new bike (2018 Specialized Epic Expert) on dirt and I was very happy about how the bike "Emma" climbed and descened.
|Me dragging whist trying to keep up.|
Day 2 - Thursday - Course preview
Thursday morning saw the arrival of Dave, Jessie, Terry (Dave's Mum), Megan and her kids
Dave and Terry kindly took Megan's kids so Jessie, Megan, Tom, Andy and I could go ride part of the course again and all get a little more used to riding dirt. The course had a couple of optional sections for the amature riders (Trail 48 and Cramp hill). The pro race didn't have these as options. Tom and I rode Trail 48 with Megan to remind her what it was about and Andy took Jessie around the other option which Andy, Tom and I had ridden the previous day. This also let us time the difference between the two route options. Although timing wise they both would have been about the same, the effort required for Trail 48 was a lot higher than the alternative route. Tom, Andy, Jessie and I all decided to not ride Trail 48 during the race.
|Working on the Megan's (Princess's) bike|
|Discussing lines on Trail 260|
Later that afternoon Josh and Clint also arrived in Prescott, although Clint wasn't staying with us it was nice to see him, it was getting to be quite the Alaskan party at Andy's house.
Day 3 - Friday - Shuttle ride
Shuttle day, after getting organised and finally finding the right way thanks to "The Google" we made it to Sierra Prietta to start our shuttle run of the final section of the course.
|Seven bikes in the back, hope they don't fall over.|
Riding today we had the almost full Alaskan crew.
|Ready to rock|
We were ripping the descent until Tom got a flat.
|Awwhhhh crap I think it's flat and what is that noise.|
- PC Andy
The group split up to get the shuttle vehicles so that Megan could make her Pro rider meeting later in the afternoon.
After the split Dave, Tom, Jessie and I finished the remainder of the course, Tom even had time to show us some the old course whilst we waited for the shuttle to arrive.
|After the split following the course down.|
After cruising back to Casa del Dino we got changed and headed into town to pick up bib numbers and meet Megan before heading in and out of town again before Megan's first Pro race. It was great to watch and cheer Megan on as she raced. The course looked tough and as always Megan didn't disappoint her fans. She always races with a smile and today was no exception.
|The every cheerful Megan!|
Day 4 - Saturday Race day
After a pretty early night the house was waking up to head out for race day. We rode in from Casa del Dino as a warmup and arrived really early. The Race starts at 07:30 and we were lined up at around 7am. I think I must have been taking the race seriously as I only took one photo during my race :-/
|All lined up and waiting to go.|
At 07:30 there was a lot of shots fired which indicated the start of the race. The course climbs up on roads and I was trying to be mindful of my pace so I didn't blow up to early in the race. From where I was the pace was just about right for me, I passed a couple of people and was passed by many more. As the pavement turned to dirt the pace continued to be comfortable for me. Emma climbs really well and I really enjoy putting my limited power down and having the bike respond. After 7 miles the course starts heading downhill and I got to start enjoying the ride a lot more, alas some of the people whom had out climbed me were not the greatest descenders. I passed a couple of people then got held up in a line of around 7 or 8 people. The lead person was braking a lot, in fact by the time I got through the 5 miles of descent, my hands were aching due to the inordinate amount of time I had spent on the brakes.
After every good descent comes a climb, I was feeling pretty good on the climb and enjoyed climbing in the relative cool compared to previous days (Day 1 and 2) when I had done this section. Almost to the top a Drunk Cyclist representative was out and offered me a beer, I almost said no... then I remembered that I was supposed to be having fun and if this person had dragged his butt out to offer support I sure shouldn't turn it down. I took the beer for the road, around 0.25 miles later I figured was as good a time as any to have a beer so opened it up and rode on to the aid station before the descent down skull valley. I am pretty sure I was the first and possibly only person who came riding into the aid station drinking a beer at 09:00, you have to be first at something and it sure wasn't going to be first in any other part of my race.
A quick bottle refill at the aid station and it was 9 miles of mostly downhill to the turn around. I waved frantically at my fellow Alaskans as I descended and was really having a blast on the way down. At the turn around I didn't stop just grabbed a gel and started cruising back up the hill for the 11mile climb before the singletrack started again. Between the turnaround and the aid station I had to pee twice, perhaps that beer wasn't the smartest idea :). The climb back is not that bad until the green house then it kicks up a little for the remaining 2 miles to the aid station and 3 miles after that. I felt I was climbing pretty well aside from the pee stops until I felt a cramp twinge. Damnit that isn't supposed to happen. Oh well I clicked into an easier gear and spun my way to the top. I passed the aid station and some amazing support from Dave and Terry. I took part of an Ensure, thanks Dave and refilled my bottle and soft pedalled on up the hill.
After the aid station there started to be a lot more people offering bacon, Whiskey and pickles. I took a couple of shots of whiskey and some bacon to help fend off the cramps. Around 30 mins after the aid station I was hitting the singletrack again and having to make my way past people.
|Enjoying some singletrack descending|
After passing 5 ish people I stopped to give assistance to someone who was having problems on the side of the trail. I thought they just needed a tube so I fished my spare out and handed it off, then they asked for a pump... At this point I left them, really you don't have a pump? WTF. By now the people I had passed had all re passed me. As I continued on the trail along the cramp hill bypass, I was passing people who had cramped up.... Then it happened, I cramped up badly. Drat and double drat. I took some salt tablets and continued to soft pedal through the really fun section of trail which made me super sad.
As I crossed the road, my legs started to feel a little better. Then the holy grail to solving my cramps was trailside, a group were offering pickles. I took one and started munching as I rode away. By the time I reached the road 3 miles later I was at almost full power. I hammered as fast as my legs would take me along the road and rolled under the finish line at 4hrs 25min and 36 seconds.
|Crossing the finish line|
Later I learned this would net me 159th place overall and 81st place male. I am happy that I raced the Whiskey 50, would I do it again.... probably not, well unless I decide to do the 30mile version which should be called Whiskey 30 all killer no filler.
Post race I collected my pint glass and joined up with my friends, all of whom seemed to have great races.
|All smiles post race - PC Clinton|
Next stop for us was off to the beer garden for some much needed rehydration.
Day 5 - Sunday Pro race spectating
Andy and I tried to follow Megan into town as she wasn't entirely sure of the way, we were driving and Megan riding as a warmup, Megan was riding so fast we couldn't catch up with her. Eventually after a few wrong turns we made contact and guided her to the start area. Andy and I then high tailed it up to get out along Trail 48 to give her and the other racers some support.
|Getting ready to show some skin|
|John Shumaker - Lead moto for pro women|
|Go Megan go!|
After watching the pro's ride through we headed back into town, picked up Josh and the kids and headed out to watch Megan, on the back side of the course.
|Chasing Megan. - PC Andy|
Yep that is me, chasing Megan again... here is the Strava and below that the video footage I got.