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Monday, December 7, 2009

Punk Bike Enduro 2009

The punk bike did not disappoint. Frozen mud caked to shifters and gears, bodies covered head to toe with dirt and slime, all sorts of revelry and of course beer!

My goal for the day was to earn at least one punk. Punks are awarded to the top 7 finishers of each stage and can be found hidden throughout the course. With guys racing for points like Chris 'Thick Bikes' Beech, Montanna 'Bananna' Miller and bicycle messengers like Stick Boy and Bare Chested Rob; capturing a top 7 spot in any stage was not going to be easy.

The first stage was the bicycle derby. We road our bikes forming a massive bicycle circle pit. Ok maybe not quite as violent and rowdy as a circle pit but maybe next year they can play some hardcore metal and we can all pump our fists as we ride around. The rules were simple put a foot down and your out. Easy enough but the circle as the circle gets smaller bikes began to stop and stall, then of course there was all of the other chicanery: rubbing tires, grabbing brake levers and even pushing riders over where all fair game in the 'there are no rules' punk bike. As riders dabbed out they stood with their bikes on the outside and pushed the circle even tighter. In an effort to cause someone else problems I lost balance and fell over on my back. Banana Boy did pretty well. He almost made it to the end.

Bicycle Derby - Shields and armour are handy for such occasions

The next stage started with Maurice yelling go and most of us having little or no idea exactly where we were going. It didn't take long to figure out what this stage was about, a super steep grueling long climb up the road. I put everything into it. As the road climbed steeper and steeper I began to have flashbacks of the dirty dozen ride the weekend before. I grunted up it but let too many riders pass by me. By the time I got to the top there were no punks left and I was bending over trying to keep from hurling my bagel and orange juice breakfast. Somehow I kept it all together.

Hurting badly from the last stage, I missed good starting position for PPG loop. This is one of my favorite stages full of mud holes and motor cycle ruts. The trick is to ride the skinnies between the ruts and not slide in or just blast through the water to leverage a pass. A lot of the puddles were frozen over so this was especially fun. I spent my time riding this one and not racing, attempting to adjust my newly purchased fender. Fenders on full suspension mountain bikes are not a good idea.

The next stage we placed our bikes in the field and lined up on the road for a lemans style start. When we ran to the field to retrieve our rides we were greeted with a total fuster cluck of bicycles. The marshals had mixed them up and piled them into tangled heaps of bicycle, one bike even hanging from a tree.  It took me a while to find mine so I was out of the running for the punks. Thanks bastards!

Bicycle Fuster Cluck

The next stage, from what I recall, was more motor cycle ruts railing through some flats, navigating up and down a few short steep ravines and then some tricky technical downhill sections. I was ripping this one up. I was several riders back when I came upon Montana. He had a knack for finding the best line through the moto ruts and was pushing a good pace so I followed him for a while. Somewhere he slowed and I found a more expedient line and made the pass. I shifted to a higher gear and just starting laying down some ground. I figured I was about third rider back and things were looking good at earning some punks. With my front tire fully loaded with mud I unexpectedly became aware that I had absolutely no tracking on my from wheel. I skidded out in some leaves laying the bike down and slamming my hip and ribs hard into frozen ground. I just laid there moaning 'I'm ok' as riders flew by me inquiring of my status. There would be no punks on this one.

Spectating the mass downhill and drinking beer.

At the end of the stage I found my shifter body for my rear shifter had cracked and broken off, hanging only by the cable and housing. I secured the shifter back onto my handle bars with a couple of zip ties and made due. At this point shifting my back gears would be a very manual process. I thoughtfully selected which gear I wanted to ride the next stage in and that's what I was stuck with. It was sort of like a single speed but not really a single speed. After this we sipped some brews and hung around waiting for the next stage to begin.

Broom-Hilda Hiking Her Bike

Next up was the scale up the impossibly steep mountain carrying your bike stage. First seven to the top win punks. This of course was followed by the mass start downhill, me and about 30 other guys riding back down the impossibly steep hill we had just scaled, all at once. I was really hoping to score points on this one. I ran my bike up and scored excellent starting position and felt confident I could ride crazy enough and fast enough to be one of the first seven down.

Mass Start Downhill 4th Nut Ball Down
Photo Jon Pratt

Right off the start the guy dressed in a clown suit tangled with the guy riding the kid sized BMX bike. Somewhere in all the mess the Jolly Green Giant guy joined in the mess and taco-ed his wheel causing a massive pile up and bottleneck. With no way to navigate around (no sane way), I was forced to dismount and run my bike down around them. By this time several riders had made their way around and when I got down to bottom there were no punks left, they had all been handed out.

The last part of the mass start downhill

The next stage was the dirt road climb. I fell short on this one. There were some other stages mixed in there, it's all kind of a blur, there were 11 in all. Might have been the beer, can't say for sure but we kept ending up at the bottom of this dirt road and racing back up.

So at the bottom of the dirt road again I decided to make one more stab at the climb and try and win some punks. As I passed Montana Banana, I reached over and grabbed his brake lever watching him lose several yards instantly. That should hold him for a while. I had maybe one or two riders ahead of me when we got to the steep part. At this point I attempted to shift into my granny but with frozen mud caked to my front derailleur shifting was hopeless. I made an attempt at pushing the impossibly difficult gear but quickly lost momentum and stalled. Failed again.

All day, stage after stage I attempted to earn punks and for one reason or another came up short: frozen gears, fenders coming loose, crashing or mostly just not being fast enough. The worst part of it all was being passed by the Santa time and time again. I tried to loose him but he just couldn't be shaken. Nothing is more demoralizing than pedaling yourbrains out, screaming through downhills and technicals, scaring yourself white, just to get passed by a guy wearing a Santa suit. Damn the Santa!

Photo courtesy of John Hinderliter That's one fast Santa.

By the end of the day I was down to one gear. There was one more stage left and we got a heads up this one was going to be a downhill... well a sort of, mostly a down hill. I coaxed my bike into the big ring and was about 4 rings down on the back. With shifters no longer working this would be the only gear I had to work with. This turned out to be an easy enough gear to push through the flats and if I mashed really hard I could make it through the few short uphills. When we took off down the road and hit the woods a bottled neck formed and, I had about 10 riders in front of me. Damn my gear issues, it was not looking good. I got a lucky break when the course marshal directed about half a dozen riders to 'keep right'. Instead they turned hard right and proceeded straight up the the hill. I think he just stood there and chuckled to himself as they dismounted and pushed their bikes. When me and a guy in a tweed suit* road  the marshal yelled 'you guys are supposed to be going down the hill'. It only delayed them a few seconds but it was enough to get in front of them.

The 100 ft Plunge photo by Jon Pratt

After this I took off and I wasn't about to let anyone catch me descending. I scared myself silly navigating the steep motor cycle rutted trails keeping up with the tweed suite guy . We had a lead on them but I could hear the clank of bicycles coming up behind us. We slammed through a couple technical sections and even mashed some short uphills. After this was the 100 ft plunge down into the park. Near the bottom of the plunge tweed suit guy veered right and road completly off trail through the leaves, it seemed like a totally insane move but I followed blindly. Thankfully we made it down alive, brains intact. Next we pedaled through a short flat, over a log and past the biting dog. To my surprise the course marshal at the finish was still handing out punks. 3rd place and for it I was awarded five punks! Wooo hooo! Thank you misdirecting trail marshal. I'll take em however I can get em. (*Update: Until I saw the above photo's I had no idea how close on my tail those two riders were)

Post Ride Festivities at the Rugby Club

*I can neither deny nor confirm that any details in the above post are wholly true or completely accurate but are only the best that my memory serves me.

More Punk Bike Enduro 2009

Dirt Rag Magazine Coverage


  1. Heheh oh man. That was a great freakin day.

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