This May kicked off with the Whiskey 50 on the first of the month and will close out with the Trans-Sylvania Epic (TSE) at the end. In between I’ve worked a lot, done a few local races, battled a head cold, and rode in cold rain more suited to February than May. This spring has been wet here in Utah, and our snowpack is at 300% of normal. May looks like it will be the third wettest May on record. It will be August before we are riding the good high elevation trails around here at this rate.
The TSE kicks off this Sunday, and I’m excited to go back to defend my podium spot from last year where I was second behind Jeremiah Bishop.
He’s coming back this year, as are a bunch of other super strong riders from various teams. It’s looking to be a great event, and I’m hoping to carry some better luck into this race than I had at the Whiskey 50 a few weeks ago.
I’m not sure about you, but I never seem to flat or have a mechanical in races when I want one. There are those days where you are suffering like a dog and riding like garbage, just creeping along praying for some bad luck to strike so you can pull the plug. That way when someone asks you how it went you can say, 'Oh, I flatted,' or, 'Ah man, I broke a chain,' rather than 'Oh, I sucked.' That’s never the case though, and those are the days where you can’t buy a flat.
It’s only the days where you are riding well, feeling good, and think you might be able to put together a good ride that the bad luck strikes. All in all, I’ve had a good run of luck and haven’t had a flat in a long time. I guess I was due at the Whiskey 50. After about an hour of racing, I was feeling good and riding in fifth position on the wheel of eventual winner Chris Sheppard, just in front of Colin Cares. We were in a group of four chasing a German duo that included my old teammate Ben Sonntag.
That’s when I noticed a squishy rear tire. Awesome. I pulled over and added some air and tried to get some Stan’s to seal the leak. No luck: I had cut the sidewall and was forced to put a tube in, which I pinch flatted promptly thereafter on a downhill strewn with sharp rocks.
At that point I chose to save the expensive wheelset and hike to a medical checkpoint where I waited for a while until another racer hiked out of the woods with a broken derailleur. He set me up with his spare tube, and I was back on track. I rode on the course for a while and eventually came upon Ben riding a flat tire, also his second, and jumped in with him for a nice Sunday ride.
All in all I had a blast at the Whiskey despite the bad luck. It’s a great race: well-run, good course, awesome town and vibe. The mandatory Friday night fat tire crit was cool (but painful) and a really good way to get the town out and stoked on bike racing. If you haven’t checked out the Whiskey 50 or Prescott, AZ I’d recommend it for sure.
Check back next month for stories from the TSE. It’s sure to be a blast. What could be more fun than crashing in a scout camp lodge with a couple hundred other mountain bikers and riding every day? Can’t wait.
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Alex Grant, 31, is one of America's top endurance mountain bike racers. Sponsored by Cannondale Factory Racing in 2012, Grant juggles racing as a pro with managing an outdoor gear consignment business called Gear Rush, which he co-owns with fellow Utah cyclist and racer Bart Gillepsie. This season, look out for Grant on the podiums at major endurance and stage races. For variety, you may also see him on on the start line of some super Ds, cross countries and short tracks.
In 2011, Grant finished third at the Leadville 100 and eighth at the US cross country national championships while also logging top 10s at the super D and marathon nationals. He finished fifth in the Downieville Classic All Mountain Overall and seventh at La Ruta de los Conquistadores. For the third year in a row, he won the Park City Point 2 Point.
In 2010, Grant made headlines with his second place finish at La Ruta de los Conquistadores, the Breck Epic and the Trans-Sylvania Epic.
When not on his mountain bike, Grant enjoys backcountry skiing, snowboarding and hiking.
Grant is from Richmond, Vermont, and he presently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Follow his 2012 season in this blog on Cyclingnews.