Awww, part of the fun in April is knowing the Whiskey Off-Road is coming. It’s a great test of spring fitness, and plus, the course is just damn fun!
I was hoping for good legs and actually felt a little peppy in the morning when I woke up. We got to the venue early enough and I got in a good, solid hour warm-up. I actually wasn’t nervous. I knew I’d go out, ride my best, and let the cards where they will. It was definitely a chilly morning, but the sun was shining down on us.
Hoping to show up at the start line with my A game.
The start was a little bit different from last year. We had a neutral roll-out for about a mile. This year, the gun went off the field took off like a bat out of hell. I tried to take off as well, but my legs were instantly loaded down and I felt like I had cement blocks where my legs used to be. I backed off and tried to spin.
My english teacher in high school pounded into us that “history repeats itself.” At that moment, I couldn’t help but wonder if history was indeed repeating itself since my race was getting started out much like last year(I don’t know what happened to those pics btw).
Going into the singletrack, I was 4th behind Gretchen Reeves, Rebecca Rusch, and Sarah Kaufmann. That’s not bad company to be racing with, and I was excited such talented women where there to push me. I just wish I had more to give! I basically spent the first hour just riding. I wasn’t able to push and if I did, it felt like my quad muscles were about to rip out of my skin with little power. I even found myself wanting to get off and PUSH my bike on the long doubletrack climb out to the fireroad. I kept saying, “it’ll get better… you’ll feel better… you HAVE to.” I knew I had lost an immense amount of time, and was almost getting to the point where I didn’t care.
Then at last! Downhill…. a very looong downhill on the dirt road into Skull Valley. The fun part of the descent is you get to see everyone coming back up the climb. I saw Gretchen in first place, Rebecca a minute or two behind Gretchen, Sarah a few minutes behind Rebecca, and myself a ghastly 4.5 minutes back from Sarah. I knew what I had to do…and I dreaded the pain.
I got down to the bottom and knew this was a 15 mile, tough climb. It was time to go. I put my head down, and went deep into the depths of the pain cave. I knew I could only push like that for an hour or hour and a half tops before my body was done… and I also knew there wasn’t a lot of ascending after this long road. I actually don’t remember much except that I haven’t made it hurt that bad in awhile. I would look up the road, see guys ahead of me, reel them in and look for the next one. My speed definitely increased and I passed 20-30 people up that dirt road, but it wasn’t pretty. My head was cocked to the side, I was groaning from the pain, sweating, tongue hanging out, making the E face, drooling, spitting…and on some sick level, I really loved the hunt.
I turned myself inside out up the climb.
My goal was to catch Sarah. It worked for me last year. I kept getting reports that I was making good time on her and by the time I got to the top of the climb, I could see her in the distance. I entered the singletrack totally out of gas and knew my body was done. I was riding to finish and tried to enjoy the singeltrack. A dog tried to bite my leg at one stream crossing… come one people, I love dogs, but control your animals. I saw him lurch at me. Maybe the adrenaline from that gave me a boost? I knew this year, I wouldn’t catch Sarah. She rode strong!
I crossed the line in 4 hours, 5 minutes. A full 10 minutes faster than last year on a slower course. I think I like my spring fitness. I wonder how much faster I could have ridden if my legs weren’t rotten meat sticks that day?! Yuki and Jeff told me I got third place. I told them, “nope, I am in fourth.” When they told me Rebecca hadn’t come in, I felt worried. I knew she was ahead of me, and I didn’t see her anywhere. She came in awhile later and I heard she got lost. I know the feeling of getting lost. It SUCKS!!!!! I felt sorry that Rebecca had lost 2 spots due to missing a course marking and I felt guilty standing one spot up from her on the podium because I didn’t earn it. I suppose getting lost is part of racing, but you never want to finish in front of someone for that reason. Gretchen rode REALLY strong, beating last year’s time by 3 minutes!
L to R. Jen Hanks, myself, Gretchen Reeves, Sarah Kaufmann, Rebecca Rusch. Thanks for a great race, ladies 🙂
In previous years, we won a tile. I like the whiskey flask. It’s the coolest flask I have (ok, I only have one)… my only complaint is that it was EMPTY!!! You gotta drink whiskey at the Whiskey 50, right? 🙂
These guys were awesome. They wanted a pic for their “man”-tle. I wish I could race in something like that. I might have to come up with some Ergon comic book costume for a short track this year… what could I be? A GX1?! 😉
I knew I gave it my all that day, because riding up the short hill to the hotel to shower was really hard! I had to put it in my easy gear and my legs were shaking.
HUGE thanks to the Epic Rides crew and all the volunteers. You guys always put on fun events and I look forward to coming back. All my equipment worked really well too. I’m lucky to have such great sponsors and support!!
After a 2 day drive, I got home on Monday and went straight to class. I’ve been trying to unpack and get back in my groove after being gone for 2 weeks. This week is mostly focused on recovery, but I’m getting in some quality cross training and will get back to the bike this weekend (even though it’s supposed to rain for a few days, ugh) in prep for my race next weekend – Front Range 50. I got 2nd there last year, and hoping to come back strong!
Nicely done Sonya! I love that sensation of of the chase, turning yourself inside out. Gotta be on your game to do that. Cool. 4’05” is FAST!
Just noticed that you also have a PowerBand! I bought one about a year ago and have been using it on every ride (road and mountain). I’m still skeptical as to if it works or not but I figure why not… it’s only a few grams…
Definitely an impressive time!!