The 2009 Whiskey Off Road April 27, 2009Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Events, extreme sports, Just Stuff, Mountain Biking, trails.
Tags: Arizona, mountain bike, Mountain Biking, mtb, Prescott, trails, Whiskey Off Road
The 50 milers had gone off an hour before the 300 of us stacked up behind the starting line for the 25 Proof. There we were, facing into a strong headwind, ready to tackle the 28 miles and nearly 4000′ of climbing that lay ahead.
I spent the first mile or so working my way through the huge group of riders, until there were probably only 50 or 60 ahead of me. On the way up Copper Basin Rd. there was probably an equal number of those I passed and those who passed me, all battling the headwind and the hill. When we got to the steeps toward the end of the pavement, I worked hard to get up them and passed about 10 or 15 while I only had a group of 5 single speeders and a couple of others go by me.
I caught up to a big group in Camp Perlstein, and then promptly threw my chain of the inside of my front derailleur and watched 10 riders go by as I put the chain back on the ring. At the start of the 393 singletrack, there was a line of about 30 all bottlenecked up. While most waited patiently, knowing that there was no place to go, a couple were yelling and trying to ride by everyone else. Like the one guy behind me said, “That guy is worried that he might only get 200th place instead of 195th!”
Once we were all actually on the 393, it worked itself out and we were all riding along at a good pace, until slannnng!..there went my chain onto bottom bracket again! Dang! Another 5 or 6 riders passed while I got my chain back on. At the Aspen Creek trailhead there was an awesome group of spectators and volunteers yelling and cheering us all onward and upward.
I climbed the new section of trail 48 “Rob’s hill”, and I have to admit that though it adds half a mile to the length of the course, it is much nicer than doing the hike-a-bike from hell that we used to do. I had a couple of guys go past me on the wide track section at the top, and then caught up with some more riders at the first set of water bars. No point in trying to pass them, as they were riding about the same speed that I was, and there were 6 or 7 in the group. After the first section of downhill water bars (there are about 8 of the 1 or 2 ‘ drops in a row), I noticed we were spread out again, and that there was no one close behind me. The traverse across the backside of Mt. Francis was smooth sailing, but we bunched up again on the last climb. Many people walked the majority of this section, as passing one rider really accomplished nothing.
As I pushed my bike to the top, I unclamped the seat post and lowered it for the upcoming descent. I passed 2 riders right away, and then came up on another and told him I would come by on the next available wider section. I started by and said, “On the left!”, but he moved to the left, and I had to swerve to avoid a collision, and went off trail into and through a bush, but managed to keep moving. We came to the first steep downhill and I stayed right behind him, not wanting another miscommunication mishap. On the last big drop at the bottom, he almost went over the bars, and I took that opportunity to go by him.
The 260 was a wicked combination of trail that had been powdered by all the 50 milers and sharp jagged rocks strewn haphazardly, this all on a super fast descent down a steep jeep trail. There were people all over the place, some with flat tires, some climbing back up onto the trail with their bikes after who knows what sent them over the edge, and one poor guy trying to figure out what to do with a rear derailleur hanging only by its cable. At one point, I had a guy pass me, and then watched as he bounced off the rocks and right onto the brink of a steep exposure, his feet off the pedals, front wheel swerving all over the place, and somehow he managed to veer back onto the trail instead of sailing off the cliff. I yelled, “Nice save!”, and he replied, “Holy #$%@, that was close!”
At the bottom, I stopped long enough to raise my seat back up and take a shot of Hammer Gel, then started the climb up the bottom of the canyon toward Aid Station 1. Part way up, I once again threw a chain…arrgh! Other than the frustration of that, I was feeling pretty good, and kept an even pace until just about 400 yards short of the Aid Station. I got off and pushed up the nastiest and steepest part, then got back on and rode the last 200 yards.
In my opinion, the toughest part of this entire ride is this next seemingly unending climb up to Thumb Butte Rd. Halfway up, I started to feel the beginnings of a cramp in my left quad, so I slowed down tried to spin it out…no go. So I got off and walked for a few minutes until it went away. Then back on the bike and up, up and up all the way to the Sierra Prieta overlook. Wow!, the group of spectators and volunteers here was fantastic, it was a great feeling to have just suffered through all that climbing, and have people there helping you celebrate and cheering you on.
I turned onto the singletrack and headed for town.
I had one guy go past me early on, but then passed 2 riders before the first steep at turkey track, where there was a guy stopped right in the middle of the hill, in the middle of the trail, changing a tire! In the next mile of bombing down the ridgeline over lots of loose and jagged rocks, I saw 3 or 4 more people stopped with tire problems, and yet another stopped right in the middle of trail, his bike upside down, working on a flat!! I had to go around him into a pile of babyheads at breakneck speed, and was lucky to stay on my bike. At the rock garden, I caught up to 3 riders who were picking their way
down it with their rear brakes locked up, just skidding down it…..so I just picked a line that allowed me to roll off the steep having just passed all 3 of them.
On the 51, I was big ringing it…just flying past people. I went past one guy, just before that off camber turn to the left, and soon discovered that the pass had taken me outside of my intended line and that I was carrying too much speed to hold the corner….and there in my way was a big downed tree! I hammered on the brakes and laid the bike down, scraping up my knee, and breaking my bike computer, but probably saving a taco-ed wheel and an over-the-bars excursion. I hopped up and was on my way again, pushing hard in the big ring. Toward the end of the 51, I could feel cramps creeping back into not only both quads now, but my hamstrings as well. I have been drinking lots of water, and electrolytes….what the heck???
On the 321 singletrack, I had 2 riders pass me, and I passed 4 who were stopped at various points along the short exposed trail. Then came the dreaded climb up the 323. I call it “Hell’s Hollow”, because it is tough, and climbs up and out of a little meadow. It is less than half a mile, but it is loose rock on a steep climb in full sunshine, 20 miles into the ride…..the perfect recipe for big-time suffering. I rode part, walked part, cramping here and there along the way. Right after the hill, I got back on and started riding only to have both my legs absolutely lock up. Both legs had hamstring and quad cramps at the same time!! All I could do was sit at the side of the trail in agony, while a whole stream of passing riders kindly asked if I was okay. After 5 or 6 minutes, they subsided enough for me to try again. I managed to limp along at about 5 mph to the top of the 392 Garden Grove trail.
This is one of my favorite sections of trail, so somehow I left my cramps behind and flew down the switchbacks, passing several riders who had slowed way down or stopped to negotiate the 4 hairpin corners. Out on the wider part the follows the canyon floor, I saw a guy 2 riders ahead of me go down hard, and his bike cartwheeled down the trail. The guy ahead of me stopped to help, and I asked him if he was okay when I got there. He said, “I think so,” so I continued on down. I caught up to some more riders and someone caught me from behind soon after we were on the section that parallels Thumb Butte Rd. There were a number of small bottlenecks at some of the more technical sections of this rocky trail, but nothing that was much of a delay at all.
I popped out onto Thumb Butte Road, and shifted into the big ring again. Two riders came out behind me and one shouted, “Let’s go guys!” as they went by, I tried to jump onto their wheel, but my hamstrings said “Nuh-uh!!” and I soft pedaled as I watched them dissapear ahead of me. I finally got up to speed, and held a good pace down the hill, despite the fact that there now seemed to be a headwind in this direction too! How could that be?? . Near the bottom, where it takes a big sweeping left hand turn, I saw my granddaughter and her mom standing my the side of the road looking for me…I waved and yelled to them as Haley yelled, “Go Grampy!!” This gave me a boost, and I caught another rider just before the light at Gail Gardner. I sat in behind him for a few seconds, knowing that the race director had switched part of the course back to one last climb up Park Ave. instead of taking Summit like last year. After coasting behind for a little rest, I went around thinking I could pull for a minute, but he dropped off and I was alone as I turned onto Park. When I made the turn onto Glenwood, I shifted into my tallest gear and accelerated. I was going 30+ mph as I swung wide onto Goodwin, and kept grinding toward the finish line.
I could hear the voices of people I know cheering as I entered the chute, and finally rolled across the line 3 hours and 31 minutes after the start.
This year’s course was longer than those of previous years, so I couldn’t really compare times. That being said, I was still 19 minutes faster than last year, and came within 1 minute of my goal of 3:30. I finished 18th out of 61 finishers in my age division.
It was a great day, and top it off, I didn’t even throw up afterward this year!