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1:01 AM Mon, Sept. 24th

Prescott's Whiskey Off-Road now part of 3-event Epic Rides mountain biking series

The annual Whiskey Off-Road Endurance Mountain Bike Race in Prescott became part of a new three-city series on Wednesday, Sept. 16, Tucson-based creator Epic Rides announced.

Whiskey Off-Road and the Grand Junction Off-Road in Colorado will join the newly formed Carson City Off-Road in Nevada to form the yearly series.

Epic Rides president Todd Sadow said in a news release that his company is "taking another step forward in offering an authentic nationwide mountain bike event series celebrating community while featuring a backcountry trails experience on some of America's finest single track."

Beginning bikers to seasoned amateurs to full-time pros have the opportunity to ride in the Off-Road Series. Each of the series' events offers challenging races with three different courses of differing distances.

The inaugural Carson City Off-Road in Carson City, Nevada, is scheduled for June 17-19, 2016, and the series' three races will offer a combined pro purse of $100,000, which Sadow said is "the most significant cross-country mountain bike purse worldwide" for individuals (non-teams).

The 2016 Whiskey is slated for April 29-May 1, followed by the Grand Junction race, May 20-22.

"Due to its proximity to the emerald blue waters of Lake Tahoe and its genuine Old West frontier charm as Nevada's state capitol, Carson City is the perfect place for the expansion of the Off-Road Series," Sadow said. "Not only has the city welcomed us with open arms, but the local mountain bike community has also been hard at work, building an amazing network of single-track trails at the southern edge of the Sierra Nevadas (mountains) that connect to the Lake Tahoe basin."

Much like the Whiskey Off-Road, which begins and ends on historic Whiskey Row in downtown Prescott, the Carson City Off-Road will start and finish in front of the historic Nevada State Capitol building, built in 1869.

Sadow said the Carson City Off-Road will include three graduated distance courses that feature trails along Kings Canyon, Ash Canyon, Marlette Lake and the Tahoe Rim Trail, which has "sweeping views of Lake Tahoe."

The Friday evening before the amateur race, a Fat Tire Criterium race will run through the heart of Carson City on North Carson Street and travel past the governor's mansion at its farthest point.

Sadow added that all three of the venues in the off-road series will offer three days of free live music and beer gardens "for everyone to enjoy, regardless of whether or not one rides a mountain bike." And yet riders at each event may participate in an expo that "showcases the industry's most innovative mountain bike gear."

The Whiskey Off-Road was the first race formed in this series. It started in 2004 and has run continuously for the past 12 years in Prescott and on trails in the Prescott National Forest.

Pro cyclist Chloe Woodruff of Prescott, who's won the Whiskey women's pro race each of the past two years (2014, 2015), extended high praise for the series.

"Epic Rides not only puts on great mountain bike events, but also great festival weekends where everyone in the family can have a great time," Woodruff said in the news release. "When I signed up for my first Off-Road Series event, I was a racer who wasn't entirely confident I could handle the challenging 50-mile Whiskey Off-Road course, so it was a huge personal achievement finishing my first one."

Registration for all three Off-Road Series events opens Dec. 31. Registrants receive an event T-shirt, water bottle, limited-edition poster, goodie bag and finisher's award.

With a cap of 2,000 participants for the Whiskey, 700 for Grand Junction, and 600 for Carson City, registration is limited and traditionally fills quickly, Sadow said.

For more information about the Off-Road Series, call Epic Rides at 520-623-1584 or visit its website at www.epicrides.com.