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? ;)
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!
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.
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:
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.