Chloe Woodruff (Stan’s NoTubes/Pivot Cycles/Shimano) is back in the Prescott pines to race the Whiskey Off-Road after a trip down under last week.
Although the national short-track champion travels across the world to race – most recently to the UCI Cross-Country World Cup in Cairns, Australia – she calls the Whiskey Off-Road her favorite race.
This year she has a chance to win for the third consecutive year.
“There are so many things to love about the Whiskey Off-Road: it’s one-part racing and one-part festival, the course is extremely challenging, I get to sleep in my own bed the night before racing, and it’s a race that brings out all sorts of people who don’t typically race,” said Woodruff, who calls Prescott home.
Woodruff, 29, who returned Wednesday from Australia, is competing for a spot on Team USA’s cross-country short list for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this summer. She and six other riders are vying for two spots.
Woodruff finished 13th in the World Cup, the top placed American in that race. The two Olympic spots will be announced by USA Cycling in late June.
But for now, Woodruff is focused on the Whiskey Off-Road, a 50-mile race against about 20 other pros.
Last year, she won the fat tire criterium on Friday and the pro race on Sunday with a time of 3:47:12. In 2014, she also won the fat tire crit and beat Erin Huck by one second with a time of 3:37:14 in the pro race.
“I expect we’ll have a good showing for the Stan’s NoTubes-Pivot team since Rose Grant is my teammate this year,” Woodruff said. “While taking the win at home the past couple years has meant a lot, I still feel pretty happy about simply lining up on the start line another year.”
She said Grant and Larissa Connors (Ridebiker Alliance, Kenda, Sugoi) are two top competitors to watch in the race.
But the weather could be an added challenge for the day. Forecasts 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.
Woodruff seemed to have no problem with that.
“Bring it!” she said. “We always need the rain here in Arizona, and it’ll only improve our trail conditions.”
As far as coming off a World Cup race and five weeks of traveling to hit Whiskey, Woodruff said it’s very different, but she’s equally excited.
“There were so many things from the recent World Cup in Cairns there were a little outside my element – racing in the tropics is so…soggy – so I’m really looking forward to a big day, with a bunch of friends on my home trails,” she said. “It’s been a long block of racing and traveling, so I’m really happy to be at home right now.”
Get live results at liveresults.epicrides.com.
Main photo by Kathy Thomas