What an amazing weekend. We headed to Prescott Arizona for the Whiskey Offroad. We decided to blow off the two 24 hr races happening in our backyard for the better expo of another Epic Rides event. Fortunately, we also met up with much more competition there, so it was worth the drive.
It was a late night packing Thursday and an early morning of driving Friday, but we got to Prescott Friday morning just in time for the expo/pre-registration. The event was dedicated to Mike Janelle, endurance racer from Tokyo Joe’s cycling team, who died late last year. This brought lots of his teammates to the race and the fields were pretty stacked.
This was the first race in a long time where I lined up with 25 other women in my class. Many of these women are veteran marathon and xc racers – pretty used to these short races! I went into the race knowing that my primary goal right now is training for the Tour Divide, so my high end speed isn’t exactly that fast. I really didn’t know what to expect. As we started out, I found myself in the lead pack heading up the road – and not really hurting to do so! We wound through Prescott a little bit and headed out on a dirt road before jumping on the singletrack. This really allowed us time to sort out and go into the singletrack somewhat organized. I rode with Kristen Hayden a pro marathon girl from Flag for a little while and thought we might end up riding together the whole time. I realized a little while into the singletrack that I wasn’t going hard enough, so I decided to pick it up and she didn’t come with.
By this time, though the 1st and 2nd place women had gained some time on me. I worked hard through the singletrack to bomb the crazy downhills and crank the climbs. The fact that Kristin was behind me and there were two women to aim for in front of me helped me to keep it turned on. The last xc race I did, I found it hard to keep on the task of racing hard. It’s so easy to slip into that endurance pace and think that I’ve got all day to finish this.
Heading down into skull valley was a ton of fun, but I didn’t forget that I was racing. I big ringed it the whole way down there with hopes of catching sight of Katie (who was in front of me.) Unfortunately, I was a little ways from the bottom when I saw Carmen coming back out of Skull Valley. From my estimate, she had about a half hour on me and was pacelining out of the valley with team members. Then I passed Katie as she was heading uphill. The out and back stretch can provide you with some good info and motivation. It looked like she was 10-15 minutes up though which didn’t give me too much hope. You never know though, so I kept on it. Once at the bottom, I decided to hammer this 15 mile climb and just get it over with. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch up to her, but went into the final stretch of singletrack feeling good.
I was able to hold a steady pace and not get caught by anyone behind me. After the out and back, you run into the 25 milers and they sure didn’t assume that this small girl had just finished up an extra 25 miles (especially since I only had 2 bottles and most of them were carrying big packs.) So, they were pretty suprised when I blazed past a few of them. There was a group of women who do this race every year and keep bringing more friends each time. I met them in the expo and when I passed them on the course, they all cheered me on.
The competition didn’t end just because the race was over. From here we started the watering hole challenge. The goal – get all 8 bars on the card to stamp it before the night was over. It was a little bit of a push to make it to them all before closing. We had to order water at a couple so we could keep up our pace, but we made it.
Sunday morning we met up with a few locals and the Bionicon guys for a ride. Wow, the trails here are sure diverse. The trail that we rode was so different than anything that we rode for the whole race. It was buff and beautiful and had a little decomposed granite towards the top – felt like home! It was a nice little ride before jumping in the car to head home. When we got home, we found out that Todd won the 24 hr here at Hurkey, so sounds like a good weekend for Siren all together.