How the Whiskey Off-Road MTB Race Saved My Life

After experiencing pain in the Whiskey Off-Road mountain bike race, Glenn's doctors discovered he had a treatable form of colon cancer.

Glenn on a San Juan Hut-to-Hut trip.

Dear Epic Rides,

Thanks for saving my life, sort of.

In April of 2017 my riding buddy Mike and I visited Prescott, AZ to participate in the 14th Annual Whiskey Off-Road endurance mountain bike race. I had not trained as hard as I would have liked, but figured I was in decent shape, and I knew what to expect. This would be my eighth time racing the Whiskey Off-Road, but only the second time doing the Whiskey 50. I had done the 50 back in 2010 and swore never again.

Glenn riding in Sedona. photo: Mike.

Mike and I arrived in Prescott on Wednesday so we could spend three days riding local trails before racing on Saturday. For us, the race is not the main reason for visiting Prescott. The Whiskey event is about visiting old friends, riding some great trails, and drinking beer. The race is just the icing on the cake.

Driving from San Diego, we got into Prescott around 2pm, in time to squeeze in a short afternoon ride. We rode the Homestead Trail (Trail 305), an out and back near Lynx Lake. We enjoyed a great ride, but back at the car I felt a pain in my lower right abdomen. I had felt this pain about a year before, but the doctor had brushed it off as a pulled muscle, since the pain was minor and he knew I was a mountain biker. Throughout the previous year I had experienced some sporadic abdominal pain, but it was never very serious and always went away in a day or two. I assumed this time it was the same pulled muscle, so I did some stretching, hoping that would take care of things.

A group of racers round a corner early in the Whiskey Off-Road race. photo: Epic Rides.

The next day Mike talked me in to driving down to Sedona for what turned out to be a long, hard day of riding. The pain was there at the start, but after about 25 miles the pain had disappeared. On Friday, we rode part of the race route without pushing too hard right before the race.

Race day came and despite some insomnia the night before, I felt great. I rode the 50 and though my time was not the best, I had a good ride and the pain did not return. The next day we headed back to San Diego, and for a couple of days there were no issues.

Four days after the race, the pain came back. On Thursday, I went to the doctor and again I was diagnosed with a pulled groin muscle. Friday, the pain was worse so I went back to the see a different doctor. She sent me straight to the emergency room. Turns out my appendix had burst.

During surgery, it was discovered that the damage to the appendix was being cause by a perforated colon. This perforation had probably occurred about a year before, and was causing the appendix to enflame, especially after hard rides. The four days of riding in Prescott had been the straw that broke the camel’s back, finally causing my appendix to inflame so much that it eventually burst. The burst appendix resulted in surgery that exposed the cancer in my colon, which had been causing the abdomen pain.

After a week in the hospital, another two weeks at home, and six months of chemo, it is now mostly over and I’m back on the bike.

The Whiskey 50 almost killed me with a ruptured appendix but the ruptured appendix exposed a very treatable case of colon cancer that possibly could have gone undetected for who knows how long.

Mike and I will be at the Whiskey Off-Road again in 2018, along with a dozen friends looking forward to a few days of riding and racing. We are really looking forward to the event this year and hoping it doesn’t almost kill anyone this time.

Thanks again,

Glenn in San Diego

The 2018 Epic RIdes Whiskey Off Road takes place on April 27 in Prescott, AZ.