We arrived in Prescott (pronounced pres-kett) on Monday from Sea Otter. We quickly settled into a VRBO house just 1 mile from down town, perfect location.
We spent the week resting from sea otter and getting ramped up to race the Epic Rides Whiskey 50 Proof Fat Tire Crit on Friday and XC on Sunday.
Wednesday Caroline and I previewed the course and was having a very difficult time deciding which bike to ride, duallie or hardtail. The course was really loose all week from no rain since February so I was leaning towards the duallie. I needed to decide by the Friday night Fat Tire Crit because you must race the same bike in both races. The forecast was showing that rain was coming in on Friday and Saturday night so I decided to race the hardtail, which was a really good choice.
Friday in preparation for the Crit James seated up Clement MSO 40mm (gravel) tires to our MTB wheels for less resistance on the pavement circuit through downtown.
I was really nervous about the crit because rain was off and on all afternoon. With Prescott not having rain since Feb. the roads were saturated with oil and the rain was sitting on top making the pavement like a slip and slide. Fortunately, around 4 the rain subsided and the course dried out by 6pm for our race.
They announced a second lap prime for $50 so for some, dumb reason, I decided to try and go for that. My thought process, for this ultimately terrible decision, was that since the race was only a competition for the top 5 call ups on Sunday I was going to try and make some money. Also, the start on Sunday was a long section of road so call ups didn’t matter at all.
With that said I went full gas on the first and second lap to position myself for the prime. However, some other fast guys were planning on doing the same and I ended up 3rd across the line, therefore, no prime and the majority of my matches burnt… I suffered from that point on until I got pulled with two to go. Dumb decision on my part because I felt well enough that I probably could have raced for a good finish.
With a terrible burning in my chest, my lungs felt stretched and my mouth full of metallic taste, I headed back to the house for rest.
Saturday morning a group of us met down town to head out into the trails and check out what the rain did to them. As we suspected the rain helped a ton and I was even more excited to race. It’s funny, this race had me more nervous/excited than all the other races so far this season. Probably because I had never done it before and also because it felt like the whole town was involved with, and excited about, the race. I mean, they started every race with these crazy locals smoking cigars and firing shot guns into the air!
Sunday morning came quick and early! With an 8:30 start time I got up at 5:30 to eat. The weather was cold but not raining, which was a plus. We lined up and bang! The shotguns sounded! Jamey Driscoll went off the front from the gun to try and confuse people/ make people question some things. Whether or not it worked wasn’t too important. He was off the front for 35 min and had the media snapping pics of him left and right.
Fernando and I sat in the front group awaiting the tempo to turn up towards the single track. Fernando, a three year veteran of this race, positioned himself perfectly in the front group for the single track I was maybe 5 seconds off in a group with Geoff Kabush and Cameron Jette. I thought this was good but I now know that even that little gap was almost impossible to close on the single track! I couldn’t handle some of the sharper accelerations in the group. Being at altitude I could only ride a hard pace and couldn’t go too hard otherwise I needed to shut it down for a bit.
I hit the first long descent in 10th just off the front group, with no hope of closing it down at this point. A 2.5 mi climb to the feed zone next. Their tempo pace was too hard for me and to put an effort in to close the gap this early would have resulted in me limping in to the finish towards the back of the field. Fernando on the other hand made the selection and was sitting pretty in the front group.
11 mile dirt road descent from the feed zone I was with Spencer Paxson and were were taking turns rotating down the descent trying to make up any time we could. Took a bottle at the bottom and right back up for 14 more miles of climbing… I managed to stay with Spenc for about half of the climb but his pace eventually cracked me and I had to hold back and ride my own pace. 11 miles up the climb Donn handed me my 3rd and last bottle. 3 more miles up before the final single track descent to the finish and I had a group of guys chasing. I made it to the top of the climb and just before the descent 3 guys caught me. Justin Lindine rallied the descent and I hugged his wheel and gapped the other two, Brian Matter, Menso DeJong. Justine and I hit “cramp hill” (the last little 4 min kicker) together and sure enough I got stung! I started cramping and had to push my bike for a few yards before getting back on. Matter passed me by this point and I was able to maintain contact at the top. He let me go by on the single track descent to the finish but closed down the gap on the last 3 miles of paved road back into town. We came in together fighting for 12th and he sprinted me.
That being said I ended up 13th. Not quite what I wanted but it could’ve gone worse. I was more that happy to hear Fernando was 4th and pumped to hear Howard won and Keegan was 3rd.
All in all it was a good race. I had definitely never done anything like it before and was already excited for next year.
James and Donn were awesome all weekend. The support was great and I no doubt would have suffered ten time harder if it wasn’t for their help.
Now it’s time to rest up and get ready for the Chino Gravel Grinder. A 106 mi gravel race that is only 20min drive away from Prescott. We are staying in the same house all week, which will be awesome. I can’t wait to check out more riding in this area and even take a trip to Sedona, AZ to experience those legendary trails. Then it is back to Colorado Springs next Sunday to prepare for the Czech and Germany World Cup at the end of May with USAC!
Lots of racing ahead so be alert and ready!