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Apr 26, 2010
2010 Whiskey Off-road 50 Proof
Well, it's been a busy few weeks. I managed to get myself sick or allegied or who knows what. All I know is that I'm having a hard time breathing and I wanted to sleep all day. Not good when I wanted to be training for the 50 miles and over 7000 feet of elevation gain that were headed my way.
I headed up to Prescott (Preskit!) the night before and got registered. We saw some friends and ate some great pasta before promptly passing out at a friends place.
The morning was COLD. The winter was supposed to be over here in AZ. It was over 90 here in Phoenix last week. Then things took a turn. The clouds moved in and snow was falling on the course up in Prescott! Come race morning the snow wasn't much of a problem, but the air temp was frigid.
We pulled up near the start line early so I could double and triple check everything on the bike and with my gear.
I can be pretty bad about remembering to eat and drink during a race or even a long ride so I laid out all of the things I needed to take and I started gnawing on Clif bars so I had something in my stomach besides the pasta from last night.
Prescott was cold and quite an hour and a half before race time!
Starting to get a bit jittery.
Trying to warm up my legs that had been laying in bed for the last week. Not working out so well. Oh well, there were 50 miles of warming time coming up!
All ready to go and no race to start yet. I can't stand waiting at the start line so we hung out in the lot and just sat tight. Tinker Juarez pulled up next to us. (http://www.tinkerjuarez.com/) He's a legend in the sport and seemed like a genuinely happy guy.
No coffee this morning so I wore it.
The 50 proof group goes off earlier than anyone else for obvious reasons. We all lined up and there were nary a spectator to be seen. Just family would get up this early to see a bunch of yahoos off the line.
Trying to find a familiar face:
I found a good friend Elvota who is a long time wheeler and an even longer time MTB rider and racer. It was good to see a familiar face. Keep in mind that at this point I don't know if I'm going to pass out a mile in... half a mile... Maybe I'll just start coughing uncontrollably. A day before I was not doing so well sitting at a desk.
First a little gun battle to get everyone psyched into thinking the race had begun.
Then, we were off!
So we ascended the pavement right out of downtown Prescott. Climbing for several miles I started to get an idea of what this day would be about. Every pedal stroke felt weak. I was still sick and I knew it. Today would not be the day I hopped on the bike and felt great and conquered all. We finally hit dirt and judging by the riders around me I was in the slow pack. We started to climb switchbacks of single track with log water bars to hop up. I knew I had to keep my breathing in check so it's all I thought about. One by one I passed people who kept dismounting their bikes to walk. I was going dirt slow, but I would have none of this walking, not this early. I told myself we can give in LATER.
Finally I found myself behind a group of 8 or 9 walkers. I dismounted and hung out waiting. As I lifted my bike up a 2 foot ledge I thought, isn't this a perfect excuse. I don't think I would have made it up this pedaling, but no matter... I was walking because there was traffic... RIGHT.
Something odd happened. I was focused on my breathing so much to keep the coughs at bay that I started really having a blast climbing. I'm not one to get sick pleasure out of climbing, but I was. Prescott is so damn beautiful that it took my mind off of the mileage yet to come. There were patches of snow, but I was warm. Even better I was keeping up with the butt in front of me. Just stay on that butt I told myself. If I chose too fast of a butt to follow my coughs started and I had to dial it back.
We reached the top and descended down one of the nicest sections I've ridden in a while. I was in a pack of first time riders like myself so we didn't know what mile, what part of the course or what was to come next. One guy ventured that we might have just descended to Skull valley... I knew better than to think that. After a climb I saw what I was looking for. The sign that said 50 Proof left and 25 Proof right. I was a little surprised I had even MADE it here. Let alone the idea that I was thinking that maybe I'd go ahead and do the 50 after all. I stopped and saw a friendly face at the aid station. It was nice to see someone I knew there to shoot the shit with and bring it all back into reality. I ate some pretzels, an orange and a gu and I made the fateful decision to head to Skull Valley.
I started descending and I don't know if I've ever ridden down hill for SO LONG. It seemed like every time I figured we must be at the bottom another three turns came into view. I saw Tinker heading up the hill with another pro hot on his tail. Soon after I started seeing mileage markers. This one read Mile 5. Oh crap, were these going to be descending? Yes, they were. Okay then, I had 5 miles to descend. The thought of turning around came into my mind, but NAH!!
I saw Elvota heading up the hill. He was doing well on a SS 29er bike. Very well. Then I saw Jeff from my 24 hour team. He was cranking along well. It was hard to see him because I knew I could be at least as fast if I was feeling well. I had to start the mantra from here on out... Finish, finish, finish, finish. Don't do anything stupid like try too hard. Your lungs will fail...
Finally at the bottom of Skull valley. About 12 miles down from where I saw my buddy Brian at the aid station.
I took a random picture at the fellow lost souls trying to scarf down some grub in the hopes that any of it would magically make the hill suck less.
I heard them call out my number. It's official, I came to the bottom of the hill. When searchers would look for my body they would at least know I had been here.
I started climbing slow. Really slow and alone. I found that if I pushed my lungs to just near the coughing point I was going faster than most riders. That worked for me.
Up until the point where I got cocky and wanted to go fast. Then I'd dial it back and the coughs and chokes would subside.
I found other rides to ride with. Chat with for just a word or two. Some were in their own dark place. Some were downright happy and talkative. I was just talking so I didn't have to think about what I was doing and what was ahead.
Finally one rider said we were just a couple turns from the aid station where we turned downhill. Could we really be??? We made it????!!! Well a couple meant 15 or 20 turns to him so that hurt the pride a bit. I finally saw Brian and was elated.
I had him take a quick pic for posterity and to show that in fact, I had been there.
Brian laughed and said "Now you just have another 5 up hill and then 10 down into town!!" Wait... 5 more up? I just road 12 miles up hill... Crap... That hurt more than just the pride. Brian was telling me a story that I don't remember a word of. I'm sorry, but I was still thinking about those 5 more miles of climbing... Was he lying!?!? Why did he put 5 more miles of hill in front of me!!?? Haha. Oh well. Back on the bike I went. Climbing away. Now I felt like a veteran. Since I was starting at the turn for the 25 milers I was around a bunch of other riders. Many of which were walking. It made me feel good that these 25 milers were walking and I had just done 12 miles of this and was still pedaling... Barely... but heh I was still kinda moving up hill.
At the top... or what i thought was the top I was so excited. I was back in the snow and it wasn't as hot as it was in Skull Valley!! Woohoo! Wait... what's that. We're turning left? Up that? A skinny two track that was full of sharp loose rocks was in the way... Even more in the way was 20 or so riders ALL WALKING. There's no walking in Mountain Biking!! I was mostly pissed because it was harder to will myself to stay on the bike when no one else was. I kept riding. I was passing the walkers so slowly that I could ride up behind them within two feet and then say something and still have plenty of time to get by.
Then and only then was I finally truly at the top. I had someone take this random shot looking back down at the Skull Valley that I had just come from!!
From here on out it was just about all downhill. I was having a blast. I was so excited to be descending that my breathing was all messed up and I was coughing up a fit. It worked better than a horn as people jumped out of the way. One two three ten! stream crossings as I went down the trail. All ridable. Everyone was walking again, but no way was I going to walk now. It was all or nothing now!
It seemed almost like a bad joke when I hit pavement suddenly. It was actually unexpected. I waited as I pedaled down the road for a sign that told me I had to go up some hill. I waited and waited for it. Where is the hill. There's gotta be one more. Nope, just a little bitty one before the finish line and that was it. I screamed across the finish line alone like I had ridden most of the race. I can't believe it... What the hell. What was that. What had I done?? Hmmm. I think I had fun!!!!
What an epic day. Oddly my legs weren't tired. I had ridden so slow as to save my lungs that I never worked my legs. Well, that works for me! haha!
We hung out at the OJ booth with friends, we listened to some good music, and ate some good food!
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers bus!
As a quick aside. I love Prescott. Check out these pics that Danica took of around town while I was on the bike.