Ah, the Whiskey 50… I think this is one of our favorite race weekends of the year. Epic Rides sure knows how to put on a bike race – killer vibe and venue, great fun for spectators – the whole town comes out to support, rippin’ singletrack…it almost makes you forget about the heinous 14 mile dirt road climb…
We are lucky enough to stay in a guest house right along the Fat Tire Crit course. We convened in this comfy location on Thursday evening and pretty much crashed out immediately. In the morning, we hustled to get bikes ready, kitted up and out the door to preview a couple sections of the course before the oh-so-pro meeting. After the meeting, it was typical racer style hurry up and wait as we scrambled to eat, prep, sit around twiddling our thumbs until it was Fat Tire Crit go time. Ouchie, that one hurts. Up the steep hill, hold on on the flat, right turn, up the other hill, speed down the hill, around the corners and launch into it again. Brap, brap! I don’t think anyone gets much sleep after the endorphin rush of that one!
The next morning, our housemates Daniel and Anona were up bright and early to hit their race. Unfortunately the weather was also up. Freezing rain, snow and blasting wind. Nina being the rock star friend and coach, headed out with them to hold their bikes and secure their positions in the starting corral. They were off. We felt sorry. It looked downright miserable. Nina held bikes two more times through the morning as the 25-proofers’ start was delayed. Finally they were off, too and their patience was rewarded with beautiful sunny skies. Nina and I headed out for a spin up the road and dialed in some final bits on our bikes.
After a yummy dinner and the requisite check, re-check, re-re-check of everything, we all headed to bed. Early wake-ups on Sunday morning, food, coffee, more hurry up and wait. Finally it was time to start! Our start was quite mellow up the road until the race was inevitably ON before the singletrack.
I have been battling some fatigue this year and am in the process of digging myself out of a little hole, related all the way back to having Mono two years ago! It seems that each race feels a little better. Trying very hard to be patient with myself and learning that less is more for me right now – and probably for the rest of my life. Not to be dramatic…but if you are an athlete, you must respect Mono. It will make you sorry if you don’t!
At any rate, I felt good during the first half of the race. I REALLY enjoyed the early singletrack. The climbing felt good and the long descent was a hoot! I was having fun racing! First time in a while! Smiles all around!
I was super bummed to pass Jenny fixing a flat and even more bummed to find out later what a fantastic race she was on until then. (And when is a flat just a flat?! Poor Jenny went through her CO2, one bad tube and limping her bike a couple of miles to the aid station. Baugh!). As soon as she said where it happened, I knew the exact rock – come over a waterbar where you couldn’t see the other side and a sharp edged rock was the first thing your wheels hit. I remember thinking it was a small miracle (or kickass wheels and sealant) that I didn’t flat there myself.
As much fun as I had during the first part of the race, I was downright scared of the road climb. Probably not the best headspace for tackling it but I know the situation my body is in right now and I can’t exactly change it. My only goal was to stay focused and keep pedaling. For the most part, mission accomplished. It wasn’t my fastest up the climb but I held it together. Small victories
One of my favorite moments in racing is entering the singletrack at the top of the Whiskey climb. No singletrack descent is sweeter. And none is harder earned. I remember getting to the top and thinking, “Well, I should pick up at least one place on the way down because people ALWAYS flat somewhere on this section.” You would think I would have jinxed myself. Nope but *almost* just as bad; just before I got to Cramp Hill, I rounded a corner and saw a pink butt bent over her bike fixing a flat. NINA! NO! Nina was also on a fantastic ride and this was a total bummer. I made sure she had everything she needed and carried on.
Though not totally thrilled and delighted with my time or place, I was very happy to finish the race in one piece. Nina, Jenny and Shannon rolled in shortly after. It should also be noted that Team Mom, Shannon had a fantastic ride, AND took care of all of us through the weekend.
Next up for me, the race to recover and get my body right again before Trans-Sylvania in another month. This is my most favoritest race of the year and I really hope to be feeling better before then!
As always, big thanks to all of my amazing teammates and our generous sponsors! NoTubes, Cannondale, Kenda, Verge, Magura, Uvex, Griggs Orthopedics, fi’zi:k, GU, Crankbrothers, elete, FSA, Light & Motion, ESI, King Cage!