Our boy Big Tex just took the Whiskey 50 Single Speed win over the weekend. We’re all pumped on his accomplishment. It’s one hell of a race.
The Whiskey 50.
Not sure where to begin as it’s been a while since I wrote a race report. I guess… the beginning would be a good start. But, not the beginning of the race, the beginning of signing up for the event.
It all started with a flask, a Whiskey 50 flask, being teased in front of my face like a piece of candy in front of a child. I wanted one. I desired one. I needed it. Or, at least felt I needed it.
So, each year the Whiskey 50 came and went and I was no closer to the flask. Like most working family men, I have many stars to align for something like this to happen. Finally 2013 came and the many, many stars aligned and I entered. I entered for the flask.
All I needed was a top 5 finish for the flask.
Thus I began to try to train, try to sleep, and try to eat right.
Skip to the race.
The gun went off and the start was relatively calm. I made my way to the top 10 on Copper Basin Rd and held position there. There were 5 single speeders in the top 10 and Big Jonny always says this race is won on the climb out of Skull Valley so no need to enter the pain cave early. I just held position and the climb kept getting steeper and my cadence kept getting less and less. I was struggling. As I made my way to the single track, I knew that the 32×17 gear I picked was one gear to heavy.
Not much I could do now. So I changed my strategy to gain some time to the first feed station in hopes I would have just enough separation from me and the others on the climb out of Skull Valley to get that flask. I passed one by one all the single speeders and took the lead by the water bars. The gear was eating me alive as I had to run (walk fast) many of the water bars sections and steeper sections. I could not wait till the top.
The top came not soon enough. But, did come eventually and I began to recover. I passed a geared rider and finessed the single track as not to get a puncture. Then the climb to the feed station started. I was silently hoping that my legs would feel better, but no. I barely made the climb to the aid station.
I descended by myself and was caught at the bottom by a two geared riders and one single speeder, so my new strategy was working somewhat. Now, just 16 miles to the top.
As we started the climb, my gear did not get easier. I wanted to quit. I even told my group that I had picked the wrong gear and was not going to make it. I dropped off the pace and started just pushing down one pedal at a time.
Thoughts flashed in and out of my mind, especially on the consequences of quitting. The one that kept coming back to me was family. My family waited for me at the finish. This was the first race my family has ever been at besides my wife. My 6 year old son was probably waiting impatiently at the road barriers. My nearly 2 year old daughter was probably running, jumping and causing chaos. My wife was probably, well you know, wishing I was there to help.
I could not quit. I could not give up. I could not let them down.
I especially could not let my son down. He just started racing BMX, and I need to practice what I preach – never quit, pedal to the finish.
I kept pushing each pedal over as they came. I kept thinking of just getting to the aid station. I kept thinking of the joy my son would have seeing his Dad accomplish his goals. I kept wanting to sit in the shade and cry.
Family kept increasing the pace. Family pushed me up the hill. Family led me to pass all those around me.
I made it to the aid station. I made it to the top!
Now I just had to finish the downhill with finesse and not puncture. Then came cramp hill, and I cramped, but I motivated, pushed through to the pavement and put it at 150 rpms.
I looked back once I got to Goodwin Street (final downhill), and I was alone. I had done it but not without those around me. Not without my family. We willed my way up to the Sierra Prieta lookout. We willed me to the finish.
I could not immediately see my family but I knew they were there. I put my hands in air and rejoiced! This was one of my best moments and I knew it.
In the end, I realized it wasn’t thoughts of the flask that motivated me. It wasn’t even thoughts of the podium. It was not letting my family down. Not letting my wife, my son, or my daughter see me fail. This was something entirely new to me and maybe that’s what these events are about – pushing ourselves to our limits to find out what really is important to us. I was just lucky enough to find this out and win at the same time.
Thank you to everyone and to all my families because we are all family.
PS. My flask is loaded up…well half loaded at the moment but it was loaded up!
His family got to see Dad take the win. How friggin’ cool is that?
Big Tex and I traded some text messages on Saturday as I was in Phoenix for my mother’s birthday (family, it’s a recurring theme), and he ranked this among his top four victories. This is a guy who won the Master’s Mountain Bike World Championship in 2002. That should speak volumes about how deep he had to dig and how much it meant to him to win the Whiskey 50.
Good on ya, Big Tex.by