On January 11th, we came to Tucson on a one-way ticket, for a few months to be able to train in better weather conditions and to make the travelling easier for the first few races of the season. We still don't have an exact return date, but it will probably be at the end of May, when the racing shifts on the east coast. For now, we consider Tucson as our home.
Moving is cool, but we wanted to get a little bit involved in the community in order to get to know some people and to feel a bit more at home. So we decided to register in a couple of local races and in a few other local organizations.
We kicked off the season a little early and participated in 3 fun events as part of a training block to get to know our new local racing scene!
McDowell Meltdown was the first race of the MBAA race series. MBAA is a series that includes 5 races around Arizona, from January through June. We drove up to Fountain Hills with David and the Junior (Adam) to participate in our first race of the season. We were amazed at how many people showed up; over 700 people raced and even more were there to cheer. Let’s just say you don’t see that at a regional event where I live in Quebec...Everything really is bigger in the USA.
The course was super fun and mostly consisted of a fast and twisty singletrack with some short steep climbs. I’m not usually a skilled strategist when it comes to racing, but this time, I had to dig very deep in my repertoire of schemes (as well as in my legs and my lungs) to figure out how to get away from Kata Skaggs – the girl was strong and she kept coming back every time I managed to open a tiny gap. I finally got away with the win by a small margin, but it was not an easy task. However, it was definitely a lot of fun and super motivating to get back in racing mode!
The following week, we drove up to Peoria, AZ for the Prickly Pedal race. It was a 40 miles point-to-point race that started at beautiful Lake Pleasant and finished in Cave Creek. The finish and ceremonies were at a bike shop/restaurant where they served delicious food and where people knew how to get the party going. It was the first edition of the event, but it was extremely well organized and very fun.
The course was mostly single tracks for 40 miles, but there was a false-flat uphill section in the middle where you could really pedal hard, go fast and kill your legs for the steeper rocky climbs that came a little later, in the last hour of the race. I took me about 3h20 to complete the race and I didn't eat enough. My brain was so foggy at the end that I kept having these uncontrollable bursts of nervous giggles, by myself, alone in the desert, out of complete tiredness...Nothing was funny, this was complete delirium. I was in desperate need of sugar, but I had already sucked every last bit out of my 2 gels and my pack of BLOKS. Towards the end, I saw two giant deer bombing down the hill and crossing the trail right in front of me. At that point, I wasn’t even sure if I was hallucinating, but I didn’t take a chance and I decided to be courteous and stop to let them go. I wouldn’t have been giggling as much if I had been rampaged by two 500 pounds deer at 80mph.
Anyway, rumour has it that next year, it will be a 2 days event with back-to-back 40 miles races. I suggest you keep an eye out for the date, because it was an awesome event and promises to grow even better in the future!
Estrella Hedgehog hustle
The last race of our training block was the Estrella Hedgehog Hustle, the second event of the MBAA Series. We headed over there with David and dad, who both did the race as well. The course was more technically challenging than the first stop of the series at McDowell Mountain, but the trails were still really fun. Kata was there again, so it promised to be a good race. She started out really fast and as I forced myself to stay glued to her wheel for the first 15 minutes, I kept wondering I would survive. But after a while, I started feeling better and was able to go in front and slowly get away. I was happy to come out with the win after another good battle and a hard 2h race!
The highlight of the race weekend was meeting 2 guys that originally came from Quebec and who both moved to the west coast a few years ago. One of them has been on the road with his family for 3 years, and they travel everywhere in their 40 foot red bus. It was really interesting to get to know them and hear their stories. I really admire the guts of this family for leaving everything behind and go on a lifetime adventure with their 3 young daughters...What a great experience these young girls are living! I think it’s pretty cool when people follow their passion like that. I suggest you go check out their website; it is really worth it.
Racing on the new local scene was a blast, but the rest week that followed was well appreciated. For sure, we used that time to recover, but we also did some small renovation projects and a bit of exploration in our new hometown. It was a lot of fun and my body is grateful for this little race, but now that the week is coming to an end, I am excited to get back to full action on the bike!