The 2012 Whiskey Off-Road, scheduled for 27 – 29 April, is shaping up to be a legitimate old west pro-cycling showdown. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek), Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox) and Conrad Stoltz (Specialized, Avia, Suunto), and Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek), Georgia Gould (Luna Chix) and Shonny Vanlandingham (Luna Chix), are all set to toe to the line this weekend.
Total event registration is on the brink of max capacity at 1,750, the 110-plus pro roster steeped in talent, assures a showdown kin to that of Whiskey Row’s heyday.
The Stan’s Notubes supported women’s field is nearly double year-on-year with 32 females registered to race, in addition to those mentioned above, returning champions Gretchen Reeves (Tokyo Joes) and Monique “Pua” Mata (Sho-Air) are confirmed to toe the line, plus Teal Stetson-Lee (Luna Chix), Kelli Emmett (Giant Bicycles) and Kelly Boniface (Moots Cycles, Honey Stinger) will also be in attendance and gunning for the top rung of the podium.
Of the 78 men registered to race, key talent includes returning champions Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles) and Andy Schultz (Kenda-Felt-Hayes), plus former top finishers Carl Decker (Giant Bicycles), Colin Cares (Kenda-Felt-Hammer Nutrition) and Jay Henry (Tokyo Joes). “After last year’s female pro race played out in the final two miles of the course between a world cup and an endurance specialist, the nail biter between Catharine Pendrel and Pua Mata proved that at 50 miles of racing, the marathon format can be anyone’s game,” said Todd Sadow, president of Epic Rides, the organization that promotes the event. “Plus, with a variety of multi-disciplinary specialists entering the fold, including Shonny, Conrad and others, there is significant potential for a battle royale.”
Pua Mata took the women’s victory in 2011, photo credit: Devon Balet
As bookends on event weekend, Pro racing begins Friday evening with a downtown fat tire Criterium. The 5:15pm start time allows for a happy-hour crowd and promises to be one of the most exciting fat tire criterium courses in America.
The queen event kicks off on 8:30am Sunday, stage two of the pro category is the exclamation point on event weekend. The pro start will be the center of attention to the amateur racing audience as they seek nourishment after a potentially raucous Saturday evening of libations and celebration in downtown Prescott.
New Belgium Brewing beer gardens located on the criterium course and in the first/final turn of the cross-country course should provide the perfect vantage point for fans to line the course and cheer. While the outside patios of Jersey Lilly’s Saloon and Firehouse Kitchen, overlooking the start and finish line, are sure to assist in cultivating a festive venue allowing for a proper send off and even better celebration when the first riders return to claim victory, and their portion of the $30,000 cash purse.