Saturday, December 27, 2008

Punk Bike Enduro 2008

Always held early in December, and always looked forward to by the locals (and a bunch of not so local riders). The Punk Bike Enduro race/ride is held by the Dirt Rag gang. If you've never ready Dirt Rag, well, I don't know what's wrong with you.

The Punks all gather at a local fire hall, where we'll be led out to the local trails. Posts say we leave promptly at 11:00, but because I'm now a veteran of the Punk Enduro, I only show up at the parking lot at 11:00. Actually cut it a little close this year.

Some guys that park near me tell me they were on their way to some local trails and saw all the mountain bikes and had to see what was going on. I tell them just how lucky they got.

We all start gathering. This is always fun for me, I ride around trying to find some of my riding buddies and get to see all the outfits and costumes that people have put together for the day. You see, the Punk Enduro is more an experience rather than a race. Yeah, the guys in the front race for points, but most of us go out for the ride, the people, the experience.

At 11:30 Maurice starts us off, and by some accounts there's over 200 riders! We head up the road to gather for the first leg. What's really cool is that most of our uphill riding is on the road, everything else in the woods. This is especially good this year as the temperature will be in the 40s with some sun, and of course this means mud.

But the trail for the first leg is still mostly frozen. This leg leads into the first muddy downhill. Imagine being on top of a steep downhill with over a hundred people waiting at the bottom for you. They're all cheering you on, ringing cow bells. You know when someone wrecks by the loud, "ohhhhhhhhhhs." Imagine being on top of this hill with pictures of ABC's Wide World of Sports images going through your head. Ah, the agony of defeat. Which is why I promptly take the go around. Yeah, I'm a coward but I want to be able to ride the whole day.

We then head along the creeks, and yes, through the creeks. This year I was sporting my Lake winter bike shoes. Wow, is all I can say. They kept my feet completely dry and warm all day long. And that is key on a wet, muddy, five hour day.

We travel up through a cemetery, then down the road to our first real break. A bike derby takes place in a parking lot. You ride in a circle, the circle gets smaller, if you put a foot down you're out. It's hilarious, and there are some really good riders with balance I just don't possess.

After this, we lay our bikes down (see top picture) and line up behind them. On the word go, we run, grab our bikes (while hurdling over others' bikes) and then take the road. Points given out for those that reach the top first, and it's one of those deceiving hills where you keep thinking you've ridden the worst, but you haven't.

Next leg, down into the woods and finally deep in to the valley. It starts getting really muddy here. I'm way psyched about my 29er and the brank new Kenda Nevegals. They did really well in the mud, and I was able to ride/slide down all of the hills. At the end of this stage there's a huge mud pit you can opt to ride through. Had my camera out, but not many decided to partake. Maybe because they've been told we were going to do all of the trails this year.

Head up the road, which goes on forever, and gather at the top. Quick break and head off for the PPG trial. Things are now officially really muddy. This is a section you just suffer and make it through. The last section had a couple of fun downhills. Though sometime I'd love to try them when they're dry.

I make it slide/ride down all of the hills, and have mentally prepared myself to ride down the last hill which ends up at a little church with hundreds cheering me on. I'm already to ride down until I see Bill get close and personal with a tree. I decide for the bypass. Ah well, live to ride another day I guess.

We head across the road for the run up the hill and ride as fast as you can down the hill leg. Most of us watch. The guys coming down the hill were fascinating. Some of them made the downhill look easy, some of them made the downhill look like it hurt.

Started getting cold at this point, the temperature was quickly falling. Actually glad to ride up the gravel road that passes the pet cemetery, finally got warm again. Then road the lollipoop trail, which is always fun.

The last leg took the road, then hard left into the woods and finally down to Emerling park. I tried to "race" this one a bit. Actually passed a number of people; wonders will never cease. After ending up in the park, we take the road back. This section is always horrible as you know you've just got done with a five hour ride, and you just want to be back at the firehall with hot food and dry clothes.

Well, another great Punk Enduro. Good to see friends, and I guess I rode with Mark Weir and Harlan Price, but to be honest I wouldn't recognize them if they were to walk up to me and introduce themselves. Well, hope to see you all out there next December.

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