Sunday I finally got a chance to race stop #1 of the Epic Rides Off Road Series: Whiskey 50, in Prescott, AZ. This is a race I’ve wanted to do for many years now, and this year was finally the year. I’ve heard great things about the Epic Rides Off Road Series of events and it did not disappoint. Awesome venue, great course, well run and well attended. This is the first MTB race I’ve been to in a long time that felt a little like MTB racing did back in the late-nineties (when I was getting started): the vendors, the teams, and the vibe were all really great. It felt like a big-time event… well I guess because it is a big time event!
I highly recommend this event in Prescott to anyone that love long, hard, climbing mountain biking that puts a demand on both fitness & skill.
This was my first big test of fitness for 2018. See where I’m at coming out of my off-season Base Builder training program and where I need to improve. I also picked this event as a “tune-up” race one week prior to my first A-Race of the year: Masters 40+ Marathon National Championships in Arkansas.
With a big (for MTB) prize purse being offered, the Professional field was not only huge, 90+ men/40+ women, it was stacked!
We’re talking nearly all of the best XC/Marathon racers in North America and a few from overseas as well. Olympians, World Champions, National Champions (past & present), and World Cup level racers. Plus many younger up-and-coming racers wanting a chance at hanging with the top dogs if only on the opening climb. This made the race exciting, gave it great vibe, and made you feel part of something for sure. I’d venture a guess saying that this may well be the most competitively attended event of the entire North American season.
With that said, my main goal was to race a good solid effort and not worry so much about actually “racing” (i.e.. placing). This will likely be my last real professional race of this caliber, so to enjoy the experience and give a good early season effort was the plan. I also had to hold back just a few percent for next weekends higher priority goal event. Holding back just 2-3% makes a big difference in recovery time following the race, and only a small handful of minutes lost within the race.