There's a race hiding down in Prescott, Arizona in Spring which attracts the crowds, vendors and some of the best pro mountain bikers from across the country who line up to challenge
themselves over 50 miles of trails and roads. I had heard about this race and it's festive venue, great riding and good payout, so we had to come check it out. After two successful race weekends recently, I was on a bit of a roll but all that aside, I haven't really been training on the bike except for the last two weeks. Throw in the simple truth that I've only ridden a bike, road or mountain, about a dozen times in the last 4 years and somehow I got the a wacky idea of taking on racing 50 miles. With two babies and a wood-fired pizza business having been born in that 4 year timeframe, there just wasn't time or energy to do it all. There comes a point though, when you can't hold back the inner athlete any longer.
Whiskey Off Road is a classic event too because you have a downtown high speed criterium contested on the same mountain bike that you will be riding for the 50 miler just two nights before the race. It is short, crazy and with hard loops flying at you one after the other. It boasts tons of climbing and a really fast descent back to the line. I was delighted to find myself at the front with the top 6 ladies when I had the total misfortune of being taken out by an enormous man wearing a bumblebee suit that was standing in the middle of the road. I don't know if he was conscious of what his actions would cost, but my handlebar collided with his backside and I went down. It took 4 concerted laps of huge effort
chasing back solo to catch the top women. When the race broke open in the last two laps I didn't have quite enough left and I ended up an encouraging but also disapointing 6th place.
On the off day between the Crit and the XC 50 miler I took Tabor out for a course pre-ride, only 10 miles of which we were able to digest. I was blown away by his skill as he descended away from me. He has amazing "bike sense" and could very well be an up and coming talent. He then flatted which was a good thing because I can always use some refreshing in this department.
Race day came and I pulled on my new Griggs Orthopedics-GO race kit. I felt fast and ready. Of course, I had never done a bike race longer than the old 22 mile Rage in the Sage course in
Gunnison, so we'd just have to see what would go down. I was called up by name and lined up in the front with the top gals and enjoyed leading off the line with them. The pace remained slow for a couple miles of paved climbing out to the trails. Once we could smell the single-track however, it just lit up and blew apart. I was in about 12th place at the time and tried to keep the pace whilst learning my brand new bicycle I'd just bought off e-bay for this race! I was psyched to have it as it climbed, descended and rolled over anything in its path. Scott Bikes was great to me too by
providing much needed new shoes and a helmet. My biking shoes, which three generations have worn and my bike of 17 years, are officially passed off to Tabor. Grateful I wasn't on that
I settled in around 15th place and tried to hang. As we hit the 12 or so miles of sustained climbing mid-course,my lower back, foreign to long efforts of any sort on the bike, seized almost continuously up the climb and I couldn't get it to relax. I did the best I could, limiting as it was. Tons of descending from the high point of the course was now on tap and as I began to roll into it at high speed it seemed my headset on my bike was loose. I cautiously careened downhill hoping my bike wouldn't disassemble and dismember me! I also didn't carry tools to deal with that problem, so what was the point in stopping? Thankfully, I descended without harm and raced hard down the pavement to the finish line. I finished in 15th place about 21 minutes out of 1st place. Ouch!
My strength in the race was my positive attitude, my willingness to persevere and have fun. I remember calling out for mercy on the big climb seeing as how it was the Feast of Divine Mercy.
My weaknesses were more than I had hoped to encounter, but I was on an unfamiliar bike, going an unfamiliar distance, on an unfamiliar course, doing a somewhat unfamiliar
sport= time to train! I'm excited for the challenges ahead and getting acquainted with my new machine. Thank you to GO Team, Honey Stinger and Scott Bikes. I need all the help I can get!
My family is an incredible support to me. I don't know if anyone else out there had multiple people cheering them on with the words, "I love you!" After all, it really does all boil down to LOVE.
Until next time, continue on the journey of health and holiness!
Rebecca and family