Riders prepare to battle each other, adverse weather at Whiskey

Pro mountain bikers not only will face each other as competition at Sunday’s Whiskey Off-Road, but they will also go head to head with wind and rain.

Always a potential factor in Prescott, Ariz., the weather in April at Whiskey Off-Road can be volatile, but pro riders welcome the challenge.

“If the rain does come down, it will just be like another competitor out there that everyone will be battling for 50 miles,” said Tucson’s Kyle Trudeau (CZ Racing).

In 2014, amateur riders battled snow, sleet, rain and freezing temperatures, and half the field failed to complete the race.

Rain, rain, bring it on

But the weather forecast for this year doesn’t predict snow.

It does, however, call for an 80 percent chance of rain during the pro race on Sunday, including a high possibility of a thunderstorm, a low of 38 degrees and a high of 60 degrees.

“Bring it!” said pro mountain biker Chloe Woodruff (Stan’s NoTubes/Pivot Cycles/Shimano). “We always need the rain here in Arizona, and it’ll only improve our trail conditions.”

The other competition

Woodruff, who is going for her third consecutive Whiskey Off-Road win, recently returned home to Prescott from the UCI Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cup in Cairns, Australia.

She’ll take on a field of 20 in her own backyard for a chance at $5,000.

Out of those, Woodruff said her own teammate Rose Grant and Larissa Connors (Ridebiker Alliance, Kenda, Sugoi) will be the toughest competitors in the race.

Watch this video for a course description:

Trudeau, whose first pro race was last year’s Whiskey Off-Road, said he’s excited to complete his rookie year back in Prescott.

“The main difference is that I have a lot more experience than I did last year and also more miles in my legs than I did last year, which will be crucial for the Skull Valley climb,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau will be up against some tough competition – Todd Wells (Sram Tld/Scott), Howard Grotts (Specialized) and a field of nearly 60 other riders.

“My goal for the race is to improve from my finish last year, ultimately being in the money which means top 12,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau finished 28th last year.

Biggest cash purse

The race is part of Epic Rides’ Off-Road Series, which offers the largest cash purse in U.S. professional mountain biking – $60,000 between the two events.

The event and festival last three days, with a 15-mile fun ride and a pro fat tire crit on Friday, amateur cross country racing on Saturday and pro racing on Sunday.

Real time results online at liveresults.epicrides.com.

Main photo by Epic Rides