Times they are a changing. It’s been a wild few months. I guess I should back up and begin back in April with the Whiskey 50. April is always hit or miss in AZ, but it ALWAYS seems to rain on Whiskey weekend. This year wasn’t too bad. Ominous skies never really opened up and dumped on us like last year and it was in the low 50s by mid morning.
It had been a while since I’ve raced with the top echelon of mtb talent and Whiskey sure served up some big names. I ended up 40th on the day after a little to ambitious start, it was just kind of an off day all together, but I remembered how much different it is trying to race for a W locally versus a top 20 on a national level, a nice primer for Junction.
The Grand Junction Off-Road
Grand Junction was another story. We rolled into town Wednesday and hung out with our friends Kim and Bobby for the weekend. GJ is a really town and the racing kicks off on Friday night with the Fat Tire crit right in the heart of downtown. The race is actually super fun. A flat 10 corner crit that rips right through main street inches from spectators cheering and heckling. It’s probably one of the most fun times I’ve had racing my bike.
Usually crit racing isn’t my thing, but I ended up hanging on to the lead group til the end finishing somewhere around 16th. Saturday I played support crew for Evie and Bobby. They both had great races, Evie got 5th in the open women and Bobby won the open men! Sunday it was my turn.
The course in Junction is rad, super rad. Probably one of the hardest mountain bike courses in the country technically with the big chunky rocks, chutes, and all around physically demanding. The roll out from town is really long, about 10-mins before we hit singletrack. I did my best to be as patient as possible and stay tucked in from the wind. Going into the singletrack things swarmed a bit and when I put in a late dig got jammed up as things funneled down to one lane.
Nonetheless, after the first climb up the Tabby I pulled some spots back and then got to the fun stuff, ripping the Butterknife descent. I made a good 10 or so passes there and then buzzed down to the creek where you start a 45-min climb out up this steep rough jeep road. It’s a tough climb with constant rocks and changes in elevation and this year there was a stiff headwind which made things really really tough. It felt like we were just crawling. I haven’t suffered like that mentally in a long time.
I think I only passed one or two guys going up the climb. The wind really hurt. After another bombing rutted out jeep road descent there’s one last painful climb up some Moab type slick rock before dropping into Andy’s and finishing on the road back into town. I gave it my best, but only managed to come away with a 23rd, only a few minutes out of the top 15 so overall I was pleased with a super fun race and weekend.
MBAA Series Finale
This past weekend we headed to Flagstaff for the MBAA series finale. I decided to race Marathon to try and hold on to my series overall which I managed to do taking 1st on the day and 1st overall in the series. The vibe at the MBAA races is quite similar to WORS. Tons of people, families, kids, good trails, vendors, and and all around great time.
We drove down to Prescott for the night to celebrate at Park Plaza (aka the Liquor Deli) over a beer and wood fired Mac ‘n Cheese with Trevor and Karlene, good WORS friends of ours who are now living in Prescott. It was super fun to mix it up again with Trevor after years of WORS racing together. We even pulled off the 1-2 after 3.5 hours of some tough dusty riding.
Sunday the four of us went for a super fun ride right from the house for Evie’s birthday and then drove over to Cottonwood to do some wine tastings in the Verde Valley, an area that has completely exploded due to the new wine making over the past 5 or 6 years. All in all it was a great weekend!
A week to recoup and then it’s off to Carson City, Nevada for the Carson City Off-Road, the last stop in the Epic Rides EPIC series. I love that area around Lake Tahoe, but have never ridden there so I’m excited to check it out.
Until next time, cheers!