Written by: Drew Dillman
With Whiskey 50 being my first Epic Ride event and really my first big mountain bike event, I went into the weekend a bit nervous and very curious about how I’d stack up against most of the nations top racers. Leading up to the race, I was able to get out and pre-ride most of the course on my RKT 9 RDO with some friends. I felt good about the terrain and was excited to rip the trails at race pace.
However, I quickly realized during the fat tire Crit on Friday night that my body was not adjusting to the altitude very well. The fat tire Crit was right in the middle of town and went straight up a steep 20-30 second climb every single lap. It was a hard course! But I made it to the front group and was there for about 15 minutes before I just couldn’t hang any longer. Eventually, I just couldn’t get enough air in my system to keep pedaling. I’ve only ever been to altitude a few times and it definitely affected me a little more than I had anticipated. I ended up finishing 30th that day.
I was feeling better about the 50-mile backcountry race on Sunday since it wouldn’t be as punchy as the crit and I could get into a good rhythm and just ride my own race. After the gun went off, all was going surprisingly well. I was feeling pretty good and passing quite a few people once we got onto the single track portion of the race. But then Skull Valley happened. Skull Valley is about a 6-mile climb that starts at about 20 miles into the race. I had passed a handful of people up the climb, but my back was in quite a bit of pain by the top of the climb and I couldn’t put much power on the pedals after that point. So I ended up getting caught by the people I just passed on the climb. From that point on, I just tried to survive to the finish line. I ended up finishing 42nd. Not the result I was looking for, but all in all, I learned a lot from my first big event and look to use that knowledge to build for future events. Next up is the Belgian Waffle Ride, a 140-mile gravel race in San Diego, CA,