Whiskey Off Road

The Epic Rides series is called "epic" for a reason...Actually I don't necessarily like that word too much because I think it's been way overused for stuff that isn't particularly remarkable or heroic. But in the case of the Epic Rides, it ain't no false advertising! In fact, these events really are  "epic" on many different levels. 

First of all, all three events that compose the series are in beautiful locations; Prescott, AZ ; Grand Junction, CO;  and Carson City, NV. So the views on the course are always great and the towns always welcoming.

Secondly, the atmosphere around the events is really fun. Over 2000 people participate in the race during the weekend and everyone is psyched to be there. You can feel the great energy as you walk through the streets where the event takes much of the downtown, covering main streets with expo tents and bike vendors. Also, there usually is great live music throughout the weekend. 

Finally, the courses are so damn challenging (and awesome, too, as they go on the coolest trails of the area) that they require every ounce of mental and physical energy that you have. Just completing these courses is an achievement and make you feel quite heroic (that said, only if having two cramped legs, being completely crossed eye and being totally spent is your kind of heroism). But when you actually race on these courses, it really makes for an "epic" day on the bike.

For all events, the schedule is the same; Pro fat tire crit on Friday evening, amateur backcountry race on Saturday and Pro backcountry race (50 miles) on Sunday.

The first event of the series was the Whiskey Off road, happening this past weekend in Prescott, AZ.

Dave and I drove to Prescott on Wednesday with a plan of doing a little BBQ in a remote campground and sleep in the van for the night. It sounded like great plan, until our van decided it needed a little break. Instead, we got stuck on the side of I-17 for an hour and a half until we got towed to Prescott by a guy who took great pleasure in telling us all about his personal life and ex-girlfriends. Our evening ended at the Olive Garden and in a hotel room…how do you like #vanlife now? ;) 

We ended up doing the BBQ in the parking lot of the Holiday In Express the next day! 

We ended up doing the BBQ in the parking lot of the Holiday In Express the next day! 

The next day was spent pre-riding parts of the course, relaxing and learning all about ancient guns fabrication from Chris’ uncle.  Who knew guns could be so interesting!

We had dinner at Chris' aunt and uncle. His uncle is an artist. He crafts ancient-style guns with his hands. He makes everything from scratch, even the gun mechanism. 

We had dinner at Chris' aunt and uncle. His uncle is an artist. He crafts ancient-style guns with his hands. He makes everything from scratch, even the gun mechanism. 

At 88 years old, he is still very passionate about building guns (and shooting them) and about history. We had such a good time learning about how he builds them and what role different types of guns have played throughout history. Thanks Wulf and Leanna! 

At 88 years old, he is still very passionate about building guns (and shooting them) and about history. We had such a good time learning about how he builds them and what role different types of guns have played throughout history. Thanks Wulf and Leanna! 

Fat tire crit

Friday was the fat tire crit. For the crit, there are no standings, time or points going into the series overall. The rule is you have to start in order to participate in the backcountry and the goal is mostly to put on a show, so some people decide to take it easy or drop out after a coupe of laps. That's totally okay, but personally, I think it’s cool to give it your all and be a part of the race. That’s how I’ve been “raised” my my teammates and team manager on CLIF – if you are going to enter a race, might as well do it for real! It's also a great occasion to test yourself, have fun and gain good tactical experience. 

On Friday afternoon before the crit, Katerina and I got to hang out at the Soul Ride tent to sign autograph and meet cool people who were going to race the Whiskey on Saturday. 

On Friday afternoon before the crit, Katerina and I got to hang out at the Soul Ride tent to sign autograph and meet cool people who were going to race the Whiskey on Saturday. 

The crit course was about 2minutes long and had 1 very steep climb, one very fast descent, and one straightaway with strong headwind. We raced 20min + 3 laps on it. 

The crit course was about 2minutes long and had 1 very steep climb, one very fast descent, and one straightaway with strong headwind. We raced 20min + 3 laps on it. 

Many people were out cheering, which made the atmosphere awesome! Was in the first 5-6 people the whole race. Ended up 4th after Chloe and Rose crashed on the last corner. Luckily, they were okay! Erin Huck won and Katerina got 3rd. Photo by Dave McElwaine

Many people were out cheering, which made the atmosphere awesome! Was in the first 5-6 people the whole race. Ended up 4th after Chloe and Rose crashed on the last corner. Luckily, they were okay! Erin Huck won and Katerina got 3rd. Photo by Dave McElwaine

Whiskey 50 miler backcountry race - 80km, 2050m D+ 

The first year I raced Whiskey, I knew I was in for a long race. Although, since it was going to be so long, I was convinced it would be slower than a cross-country race and only the fact that it was such a long distance would make it hard in the end. Boy was I wrong.  That year (2015), I got dropped instantly and realized that even if it's long, it is still a race and those ladies go as fast as possible almost from the gun! It was a shock. 

This year though, I wasn’t so naive. I knew it would be hard from the beginning and I was mentally ready to suffer for the whole duration...which I did haha! Here’s a photo recap of how it went: 

Ready to go! 

Ready to go! 

Here is my friend Myron (Todd Wells mechanic) - Even going to the feedzone is epic in those races. We are lucky to have motivated people helping us out (Chris and Dave for us this weekend) Photo by Les Stukenberg

Here is my friend Myron (Todd Wells mechanic) - Even going to the feedzone is epic in those races. We are lucky to have motivated people helping us out (Chris and Dave for us this weekend) Photo by Les Stukenberg

From the start, I knew I wanted to positioned myself at the front. It was a beautiful day out there- the nicest it's been in the last 3 years of that race. About 42 women started. Photo by Dave McElwaine. 

From the start, I knew I wanted to positioned myself at the front. It was a beautiful day out there- the nicest it's been in the last 3 years of that race. About 42 women started. Photo by Dave McElwaine. 

Kate and I sprinted for the first single track and we exchanged the lead for the first 30-40 min of the race. Less chances to crash and get dropped if you are at the front! Photo by Dave McElwaine

Kate and I sprinted for the first single track and we exchanged the lead for the first 30-40 min of the race. Less chances to crash and get dropped if you are at the front! Photo by Dave McElwaine

About 45 min in, Kate and Erin accelerated. I tried to follow, but I couldn't do it. They rode away from everyone and it created a separation in the group. Chloe, Rose, Katerina and I formed a group and rode together for the majority of the race. Photo by Dave McElwaine. 

About 45 min in, Kate and Erin accelerated. I tried to follow, but I couldn't do it. They rode away from everyone and it created a separation in the group. Chloe, Rose, Katerina and I formed a group and rode together for the majority of the race. Photo by Dave McElwaine. 

All 4 of us worked together to try and bridge to the leaders. Mentally, it is much easier (and more fun and engaging) to be riding with a group during those long races...even if you still are on the limit the whole time. Photo by Les Stukenberg. 

All 4 of us worked together to try and bridge to the leaders. Mentally, it is much easier (and more fun and engaging) to be riding with a group during those long races...even if you still are on the limit the whole time. Photo by Les Stukenberg. 

There was a lot of suffering involved that day. You always think you can't hold this pace any longer. But then, your teammate gives you a little "Nice work little one" or "Keep it up" between two breaths and suddenly, you realize everyone else is in the same situation and you force yourself to hang on just a little longer and a little "Good job!" back at her. Photo by Les Stukenberg

There was a lot of suffering involved that day. You always think you can't hold this pace any longer. But then, your teammate gives you a little "Nice work little one" or "Keep it up" between two breaths and suddenly, you realize everyone else is in the same situation and you force yourself to hang on just a little longer and a little "Good job!" back at her. Photo by Les Stukenberg

Eventually, Rose Grant started accelerating up the 12 mile climb (about 2.5h into the race) and I got dropped. I tried my best to hang on and found myself yo-yoing 30s-1min behind them for a long time. Quite honestly, I kind of wanted to do like our van and take a little break once engine blew up! Photo by Les Stukenberg

Eventually, Rose Grant started accelerating up the 12 mile climb (about 2.5h into the race) and I got dropped. I tried my best to hang on and found myself yo-yoing 30s-1min behind them for a long time. Quite honestly, I kind of wanted to do like our van and take a little break once engine blew up!
Photo by Les Stukenberg

Salty, tired and happy at the finish line. In the last descent, I gave all I had trying not to touch the brakes as much as possible... Until I decided to wiggle my toe and my right leg completely cramped, before I even got to the infamous Cramp Hill (not a good sign). Then, it was my left leg's turn to cramp. I kept pedalling as smoothly as I could, and eventually, I crossed the line in 6th.  I lost a lot of time on that last stretch as I struggled keeping momentum and speed through the fast traverses with my cramped legs. On the bright side, I felt really good and had lots of fun on the singletrack downhill! Photo by Kenny Wehn. 

Salty, tired and happy at the finish line. In the last descent, I gave all I had trying not to touch the brakes as much as possible... Until I decided to wiggle my toe and my right leg completely cramped, before I even got to the infamous Cramp Hill (not a good sign). Then, it was my left leg's turn to cramp. I kept pedalling as smoothly as I could, and eventually, I crossed the line in 6th.  I lost a lot of time on that last stretch as I struggled keeping momentum and speed through the fast traverses with my cramped legs. On the bright side, I felt really good and had lots of fun on the singletrack downhill!
Photo by Kenny Wehn. 

Congratulating each other at the finish line! There is immense respect between all of us, especially when we spend so much time suffering together and getting the most out of each other! Photo by Kenny Wehn. 

Congratulating each other at the finish line! There is immense respect between all of us, especially when we spend so much time suffering together and getting the most out of each other! Photo by Kenny Wehn. 

In the end, I was happy about how I raced because I positioned myself better than in previous years and was more aggressive during the race. Although, I won't lie that I was hoping for a little more result-wise. But that won't come without a bit more hard work! It was a great weekend and it made me super motivated to work hard and come back stronger for the next race in Grand Junction in 3 weeks. 

We finished our yearly Arizona trip with a good diner with Todd, Meg and Coop at a new Tucson restaurant and a little race with Coop in the parking lot! Now I'm back home in Canada and excited to ride the home trails. 

Cheers!
Maghalie