JF and Mara decided to register for the McDowell Meltdown a week before the race, just for the fun of it. They hadn't trained for a race, but had heard it was a fun course and wanted to give it a try. JF has done many trail running races, orienteering and adventure races, but never did an XC mountain bike race.
When we saw all the teams set-up with matching race gear and the general seriousness of the event, we realized it was more than *just a friendly race*. There were over 850 participants and it ended up being the busiest event the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona (MBAA) had seen in a long time.
Mara finished 5th in the 13-14 yo girls (over 14 girls), which was very good for a girl that was doing it just for fun! She actually was faster than almost half the boys in the same age category!
JF finished 10th in his category, which was also pretty remarkable given he didn't train for a race.
The MBAA organizes a series of 6 races every year and we might attend another one in a few weeks.
It was great to reconnect with friends we hadn't seen since last summer, share a few meals (and the race jitters!) and ride with them. The mountain bike trails at McDowell Mountain Regional Park are simply amazing and there are over 200 miles of trails that are accessible from there. Too bad the camping is so expensive ($30/night). There is no boondocking in the whole Phoenix area (except for Casino Parking Lots) that we know of (drop me a line in the comments if you do!), so it's a major bummer because we would have loved to spend more time there.