Joe Susco celebrates his overall and men’s masters (45 and over) win in the 30-mile race during the Whiskey Off-Road 30- and 50-mile amateur races in Prescott Saturday, April 28, 2018. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)
Originally published Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 10:37p.m.
PRESCOTT — Forty-five-year-old Joe Susco of Mesa, the champion of the Whiskey Off-Road 50 Proof amateur in 2016 and that race’s 2017 runner-up, held off a few upstarts Saturday to win the Whiskey 30 Proof (Mile) amateur mountain bike race in 2 hours, 9 minutes and 20 seconds.
Susco (pronounced SUH-sko), who rode the shorter distance this weekend after having recovered from a fractured femur within the past year, finished a minute and a half faster than runner-up Manuel Doblado (2:10:54).
More than 600 cyclists completed the 30 Proof, one of the most popular rides on event weekend, on Saturday.
“I just had knee surgery and elbow surgery [too],” said Susco, who raced for the first time this year. “So I just started training like six weeks ago. I’m trying to ramp up for a couple races this year, but, unfortunately, I had to opt for the 30 [Proof].”
Theo Fabian of Prescott, a 16-year-old who attends BASIS Prescott and rides for the school and the AZ Devo club team, nabbed an impressive third (2:11:44). His AZ Devo teammate, Jayden Wight, 16, of Tucson, finished sixth (2:13:32). Fabian said his bike had a technical problem, and that he had to run the race’s last two hills.
“I tried to catch up [to Susco] the whole time, and I was pushing really hard at the end piece of the single-track section,” Fabian said. “But he still would’ve been able to pull away from me. He had good endurance.”
Apparently, cycling is entrenched in the Fabians’ gene pool. Theo’s older brother, Paul, 18, the 2017 Whiskey 30 Proof champ, will compete in the Whiskey 50 pro men’s race for the first time this morning.
And Theo’s younger brother, Thomas Fabian, a 13-year-old from Prescott, won the 15 Proof race Friday in 1:26:43, about 1-1/2 minutes faster than Prescott’s Chris Carothers, 56 (1:28:11).
Rounding out the Top 5 in Saturday’s 30 Proof were Sean Hahn, 50, who crossed the finish line on Whiskey Row in fourth (2:13:29), and Marcus Hayward, 39, of Mesa (fifth, 2:13:30). Wight, Hahn and Hayward were literally on each other’s wheels.
“Those young kids are fast,” Susco said. “Age and endurance prevailed.”
The three-day Whiskey Off-Road concludes today, April 29, with the pro men’s and women’s 50 Proof races. Those races begin at 8:30 a.m. and 8:40 a.m., respectively, on Whiskey Row. The annual Kids’ Fun Ride starts at 9 a.m., also on the Row.
Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.