The Whiskey 50 started for me on Saturday morning at roughly 6 AM. I jumped out of bed at the Comfort Inn outside of Prescott, AZ and made up some rice and eggs in the microwave. While it was not the breakfast I wanted.....it got the job done. After getting fueled up and filling race bottles, I headed to the race venue around 7 AM to get in a solid warm up before the 8 AM start. With all the recent travel over the past 8 days, the legs were less than spunky. During the warm up, I did a bunch of hard efforts in hopes of opening up the legs for the opening road and singletrack climb.
At 7:45 AM all the racers lined up in downtown Prescott, AZ. I got a good start sitting on the second row. My goal was to ride with the lead group up the opening climb and then let the cards fall as they may. As the group rolled out of town, the pace was chill....and my legs felt fine. After a few minutes of city riding, we hit the opening paved and dirt climb to the singletrack. I was sitting in the top 5 until we hit the steep pitch in the road. Here, the legs failed to respond. I slowly went backwards as a group of roughly 15 riders moved ahead of me. As I pedaled, I went as hard as I could without blowing up. Soon, I found myself following this group into the opening singletrack. While I was sitting in an OK position, my legs were heavy and had no snap.
I continued on. Soon I found myself catching a few riders dropped from this opening group....but I was also being caught by some riders behind me. This cat and mouse chasing went on until the first long rocky downhill containing lots of loose rock. Here, I caught nemerous riders standing on the side of the trail fixing flats....and a few guys going slower on this sketchy trail. At the end of the downhill I began a forest service road climb. This was a longer climb that soon found me shring the work load with 3 other riders until we got to the Skull Valley descent.
Skull Valley is a long dirt road descent to a turn around point. On this road, a lot of guys sat up. Me, I pushed the pace to get down as fast as I could and then start the climb back up. About 1 mile from the bottom, I saw the lead group of 2 riders.....followed by another group of riders. At the turn around, I filled up one bottle for the climb back up. During the entire climb, I set the same pace....while other riders around me would pull ahead....only to have me catch them later up the road. Lucky for us racers, we had a tail wind going up the climb to make it a bit easier.
At the top was another aid station stocked with everything a starving cyclist could want. Here I filled 2 bottles of the final last climb and then descent to the finish. Once the bottles were topped off it was time for another 5 minutes of fire road climbing. At the top, we made a hard right onto some sweet singletrack for the downhill run towards Prescott. Here, more riders were caught. With a few miles left, I came upon one last rider on a techy singletrack section. I followed him until we hit the paved road leading into Prescott. Once on the road I went to work with this other rider sharing the work load. We switched off on pulls. On my last pull I pushed up my pace and got a gap on the other rider. It would stay this way until I crossed the line at 3 hours 45 minutes. Good enough for 14th place out of 149 total Open Men racers.
My race execution went well.....the goal was a finishing time between 3.5 and 4 hours. I was happy with my nutrition and riding skills. Only thing holding me back were legs that only want to function at about 75-80%. The next test comes in 2 weeks with the Front Range 50 outside Denver, CO.