Whiskey Off-Road, Prescott/USA

Date: 25.04.2014 – 27.04.2014

Description: Short Track and Marathon Race

Friday, Short Track
12laps, 16km, 470m of climbing, 30min, 33.5km/h average speed
5rd place a few seconds behind winner Derek Zandstra

Saturday, Marathon
78km, 2000m of climbing, 2.57h, 26.4km/h average speed
1st place a few sec ahead of Todd Wells and Derek Zandstra

After Sea Otter Classic I stayed a few days at the Specialized office in Morgan Hill. It was great to catch up with lots of the bike & apparel engineers plus the marketing teams. The daily lunch ride I joined with my mtb, which meant racing time for 45min or lets say just trying to hang in there and spin the gear out! The Specialized office is “the temple” of innovation in the cycling industry. This is also due every body loves to ride its bikes and is so passionate about it.

After Morgan Hill I flew from San José to Phoenix then drove up to Prescott/Arizona. A complete vibe and landscape change to California. Desert or semi desert views, altitude and the town cowboy style! Lot of the stores have stickers “no guns” on the doors, and they mean it seriously!

Altitude in America means also dry air. The lip balm and skin moisturizer becomes your best friend. My throat was hurting while hard riding and it also produces a lot of mucus. Staying off dairy products definitely helps to have less of of the unwanted slime.

The short track had a good uphill in it. I was positive I could win my first short track race ever, but I just did not have that last kick over the top, so as Zandstra rode away with two laps anyway and was out of reach. Next time I should try to attack earlier and not being lazy waiting for a wonder to happen, especially when I am not a good sprinter.

We all pros were so happy that the marathon race was not scheduled for Saturday, otherwise it would have been a surviving camp out there, like it was for the fun categories. The temperatures dropped so much, hailing wind in combination with rain and a big snow storm!!! Some of the fun riders were dressed like moon walkers and they had to be! Unfortunately even like that 40 riders had to be evacuated off the course. At that time most of us pros were sitting the morning out in a coffee shop. Luckily it was better in the afternoon and we headed out riding then.

All that snow and rain made the dusty track perfectly, especially in combination with the sun which “baked” it to perfection! So we knew it is going to be a fast race, battling it out for the biggest price purse (total $40’000) in North America.
The course was held mostly in the high pine trees except the out and back to a valley which was an open gravel road with an about 15km climb coming back. I really wanted to make the difference there. At that point we were a group of four with Derek (Canada), Fernando (Columbia) and my team mate Todd (USA). I attacked in the middle of it and got away with Fernando. Almost over the top I had then probably 20″ to Fernando and a minute to Todd and Derek. Now I just had to bring it home down all the rocky single tracks and over a small climb. I took it conservative not wanting to flat on the sharp Arizona rocks. It was a great feeling coming out of the woods hitting the last 5km asphalt stretch being escorted by American Police motor bikers and they’re sirens. I thought I am leading this race all safe and I enjoyed it, but only until the second last corner 500m to the finish…. there I have seen or almost felt Derek and Todd breath behind me!!! I got a big fright! Luckily that gave me good emergency energy and I sprinted down to the finish where we were welcomed by a big crowd.

It was a great day for Specialized with a double victory plus Howard Grotts our young super climber taking fifth despite a flat tire. We all rode our Epic bikes with SWAT Box. I have chosen Renegade control tire in the rear (27psi) and Renegade S-Works in the front (26psi). plus Rotor 36 front single chainring.

A big high five to the organizer Epic Rides on putting on such a great event. I really enjoyed it!

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