12 February 2017
Havasu Havoc – MBAA #3
There were 22 at the start and after the top five riders in the series standings were called up to the line, I slotted in behind one of them, hoping to get a good start. The course did not become singletrack for several hundred yards and by the time we made the hard U-turn onto the narrow, rock lined, twisting trail, there were 6 of us that had already gapped the rest of the field. I rode a few wheels to the singletrack “junior loop” trying to save a little gas for later. I did not feel particularly good – or bad – so I had little clue how I might fare the day after my less than enthusiastic pre-ride. I was a little concerned about the ten mile “long loop” that I had not checked out and I could not remember much about the course from 2014, except the steep descent marked with signs that offered two paths to the bottom. In 2014, riders were treated to a bit of course marker’s humor that suggested one of these two routes was “Sane”, the other, steeper, rockier trail, “Insane.” There was also a very steep climb out of a wash that was a hike-a-bike section for all but the very strongest riders. That’s all I remember from my third place finish in 2014.
Last night may not have been the best preparation for the first race of the season. A pianist friend was in town from D.C. and he and some of his young gun musicians were performing at The Nash – a Phoenix Valley oasis of art in an otherwise cultural desert. Initially I had wanted see Lexie play, but as race day approached, I begged off, and changed my statement to, “we’ll see how I feel on Friday.” This bought me some time to reflect. But, my love of live jazz won out and come Friday night I had dinner at a new Jamaican bistro in anticipation of some front row jazz. The menu was not what you might find on the training tables of even the Jamaican bob-sled team, so I dove into jerked braised pork belly, butter bean mash with guava reduction and washed it all down with a cup that runnethed over with pre-race guilt. The jazz show was an evening of improvisation and cutting edge complexity, that somehow worked in satisfying ways, and went a long way toward assuaging my race meal remorse.
In so many ways this is stupid. I’m 58 and my racing age is 59. I love jazz. I love cycling. I love to eat adventurously. There has to be a balance in there somewhere. While I want to win every race I enter, the reality, in my many years of racing, is that I have only been on the top step of the podium once.
In the mid-90s.Read More