Monday, April 27, 2015

One Scalpel, One Girl and One Beer

Dear Prescott AZ, I'm pretty sure you are pure magic. Please never change.
Love, Larissa

Sitting in bed, on a Monday night after teaching and grocery shopping, yoga/core, recovery spin, dinner, dog walking, and unpacking, it's kinda hard to believe that this past weekend happened at all. Thank god there are pictures to prove that the whirlwind of agony and sheer joy that was the Whiskey 50 was not in fact a dream.
Photo Cred Johnny Muller
This race recap needs to start with the background info that I have been dying to do this race for the past 2 years, but never had the nerve to ask for the two necessary days off work to get out to Prescott for pre-riding, the crit and the race weekend. Our Silverado/Orange County friends would come back from racing the Whiskey and tell me that the race would have suited me well, with the hour long climb out of Skull valley and 50 mile distance. It killed me with jealousy to see pictures/read race write ups each year. Needless to say, I was pretty excited, it felt like I had been waiting my whole life to do this race.

The Whiskey 50 Off Road started with call-ups for the top 5 finishers of the Fat Tire Crit from Friday night, of which I was 5th. Standing on the line with the fastest women in the country (and some from other countries!) was pretty sweet. And suddenly a bunch of rifles were shot in the air and we were rolling through historic Prescott up the hill the trails.

The initial climb is paved, then fire-road, and eventually you turn left onto single track. I played mt cards well, drafted on most the climb, and hit the single track fourth wheel behind Katerina. Sadly though, the super slippery wet conditions and race day nerves threw me off my game, and I made a few decisive mistakes on rock problems that I had no trouble riding two days before when it was dry. This gave the lead group first a 10 second, then 20 second gap on me. I didn't panic, and tried to ride smooth. Eventually Rose Grant slipped past me before a long fast, ridiculously fun descent, and also gapped me a bit. I decided to stay calm and be patient, and enjoyed the descent on tacky dirt, hoping to reconnect with the group on the next climb.

photo cred Dave McElwaine
At the top of the next climb though I was 90 seconds back, and headed down the 9 mile fire road to Skull Valley, alone. Thankfully there was ample cheering at aid station #1 which lifted my spirits and made me smile! I worked as hard as I thought prudent on the way down, and eventually reeled the group in to 20 seconds ahead of me by the turn around. Because I knew the climb back out of Skull Valley was 12 miles long I decided again to be patient and not bury myself to catch the group, and instead rode just hard enough to keep them right in my sights. Until, 50 minutes into the climb, they weren't in my sights anymore. Again, I decided not to panic. Anything could happen like a flat or cramping, or a crash. I rode my own pace for the rest of the climb and rallied on the singletrack for some sweet flowy descending, which again lifted my spirits. I'm pretty sure I started talking to myself as well.
photo cred Dave McElwaine
Eventually the course was lined with spectators who yelled encouraging things, reminded me that I had been waiting my whole life for that moment :), and handed me beers to drink. I was feeling pretty tired and beat up, but after chugging half a beer from some dude I felt really good again and hammered it home for 5th place overall. In the last 10 miles of the race I became acutely aware of how much fun it was to ride the Scalpel through the rocky/techy trails and creek crossings. The whole race was a bit of a blur of fire road climb plus a heaping serving of agony, but the last hour was pure rock heaven.

Crossing the line, not really sure I could no hands it in the slippery conditions!
Then the second best part of the day happened (you know, after getting to ride my bike for 50 miles), I earned my first ever oversized check, AND a little girl asked for my autograph (no one has ever asked for my autograph before!).

Told you I got a big check! Best day ever!!

This one had to be small so both pictures could be on the same line

It was some pretty exciting times, followed up by a shower chocolate GU Recovery Smoothie, and a 6 hour drive back to SoCal to be in bed by 9pm. None of it could have happened without the outstanding support of the Ridebiker Alliance and Team ShoAir (who kinda adopted me this weekend), but that's another story in itself :) So for now, I'll just say I am incredibly fortunate to have such great support and so many awesome people making this bike racing thing possible.

I left a bunch of details out of this recap in the interest in keeping it short (ish) so there may be more Whiskey reminiscing later on down the road. Long story short, put me on a Scalpel for 50 miles and feed me a beer 40 miles in and I am a pretty happy camper.

1 comment:

  1. I hope someone is recording this season for you. It would make an inspirational movie that every young high school racer to watch. You are "living the dream" & are the perfect role-model for all the young aspiring MTB racers in America. Best of luck for the remainder of your season. Keep smiling :)