After reading about this race in Bike magazine my brother and I decided a few months back to give this race a try. The Whiskey goes down in Prescott, AZ and having ridden there before I knew there was an abundant of epic single track to be had. This race is put on by Epic Rides out of Tucson, AZ and I’d heard that their races are indeed epic.
The Whiskey was said to be an old-school style MTB race with a festival like atmosphere. There are three version of the course; the 50 proof (44 miles, 6,800’ of vert), the 25 proof (28 miles, 4,800’ of vert) and the 15 proof (19 miles). My brother and I opted for the 25 proof. I was looking at times from years past and out of about 250 riders doing the 25 proof, the winning times were around 2:40. This wasn’t shaping up to be your standard socal series lap race with 25 miles being done in 2 hours and my brother and I were a little apprehensive. One thing I was really looking forward to after weeks of 8 am start times was the 10 am start and a hotel a block away. Prescott is at 5,000’ so temps weren’t forecasted to get any higher than 75 which would be nice. With a mandatory meeting on Friday afternoon the town was crawling with bikers when we arrived around 4 pm to grab our packets and get in a little ride to loosen the legs up after 8 hrs in the car.
Saturday dawned sunny and mild, perfect for racing. The 50 proofers went off at 9 am and we rolled out with a neutral start at 10 am sharp. I kept telling myself to heed Matt’s advice on pacing as the race started with a 9 mile climb and another 6 mile climb awaited near the end of the race. Blow up early and an already long day could turn epic. The pace was manageable on the first climb and I managed to stay in the top five. This wasn’t a NORBA race there were not the usual categories just junior, open (19-44) and master (45+) categories so I tried to keep my eyes on guys who looked over 19 and under 45. Maintained about 4th overall to the top of the climb, passed on the Whiskey shots being handed out at the top and hit the downhill which turned out to be pretty gnarly. Similar to something like San Ysidro or Romero singletrack but with cactus. Had to stop once due to my stem faceplate coming loose and my handlebars twisting but a quick bolt tightening did the trick. Suffered like a dog up the final climb and bombed the single track and pavement to the finish. I was thinking I would be happy with a top five in the open men since it got hard to tell who you were racing against as we came onto the 15 proof course and there were some 50 proofers scattered in as well. I ended up getting 2nd in open men and 5th overall on the 25 proof course. Floyd Landis was there racing the 50 proofer and finished third.
All in all an epic race that reminded me of races in the late 80’s-early 90’s like the Revenge of the Siskiyous, The Lemeurian and the Humbug Hurry-up. If you want to experience what mountain bike racing was really like back then with huge fields, epic courses, tons of free schwag and just a really fun time I would definitely suggest you check this race out. I’ll be back for sure.
Oh yeah, Gabe, since they don’t break it up by category, just by age, we can move our rivalry over to the dirt. Put it on your calendar next year! J
More info on the race is here. Check out the video from 2006, it’s pretty sweet;
State Trails Day 2017 - San Ysidro Trail! -
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