A fat purse may be luring top pros to race the Whiskey Off Road this weekend, but it’s the riding and party that’s attracting amateurs to the growing event in Arizona.
Last year saw 1,000 participants at the “Whiskey” in Prescott, Arizona. This year the eight-year-old event, which runs April 29 through May 1, will see 1,500 riders, predicted Todd Sadow, president of Epic Rides, which produces the Whiskey and the Kona Bikes 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. Sadow noted that after March 26, registration fees go up.
“We will have grown by 500 riders this year alone,” Sadow said. “As far as vision goes, the race is becoming the vision.”
The vision is actually a party that revolves around mountain bikes. And to make things even more rowdy, Sadow encourages the 100 registered pros to throw on slicks and throw down the Friday evening before the weekend racing begins in earnest. So, what’s better than a smoking fast 30-minute-plus-three-lap fat-tire crit in the middle of Prescott to get a party started?
“The pro fat-tire crit goes around the courthouse square downtown” Sadow said. “It’s overwhelmingly spectator friendly.”
That means the likes of Carl Decker, Dave Wiens, Ben Sonntag, Mark Weir, Ben Bostrom, Barry Wicks, Kris Sneddon, Jake Wells and Chirs Sheppard, to name just a few of the men, will be hammering. Then there’s the women’s lineup that includes, but not limited to, Kelli Emmett, Rebecca Rusch, Amanda Carey, Eszter Horanyi, Sonya Looney, Krista Park, Gretchen Reeves and Jenny Smith.
Along with the pro-level fat-tire crit there is an industry vendor and tech expo, as well as a beginner-level “15 proof” fun ride on Friday (one proof = 1 mile). The whole weekend is centered in downtown Prescott where there’s a collection of bars, breweries, coffee shops, restaurants, art galleries, and a sprawling courthouse lawn shaded by trees.
The singlespeed band the Black Owls will be one of the groups offering live music on Saturday while amateurs hit their 25- and 50-mile events. The pros race for a $20,000 cash purse on Sunday morning. The pro and amateur 50 milers will ride the same course.
“You have to be a real mountain biker to do this course,” Sadow said.