Grassroots mountain bike racing is the shit. No entry fees. No cut off times. No schwag bags filled with a million advertisements that spill all over your car, get stepped on with muddy cleats, and make it even harder to find that one thing you really need just minutes before the start of the race. No hypoxic dudes trying to run you over at the start because you are a woman and–because they are not a woman–they know they must be faster than you. No bizarre rules like”anyone caught peeing in public will be disqualified” or mass starts where you are forced into a conga line and unable to pass for the first three miles.
Yet, without any of the annoying things that go along with races with entry fees, you still get to ride a rad course and spray about your results at the end.
But despite all the awesomeness of grass roots mountain bike racing, only five of us showed up at five in the morning on November 21st to ride the long route (76 miles) of the Arizona Endurance Series Picketpost Punisher. Over the course of the next 14 hours (that’s how long it took me to finish!) I contemplated the low turnout for the race and decided it must be due to American capitalist culture (or, I should probably clarify, the capitalist culture of mountain biking): if it’s free, it must not be that good. In the era of Bernie Sanders, hopefully this paradigm will soon shift, and more mountain bikers will unite with their dirt bag rock climbing brethren and realize that the best things in life are free. But I’ll save that tangent for another post.
Until then, here is a list of why this year’s Picketpost Punisher 76 mile course was rad:
- miles and miles of flowy–and a little techy–single track
- views of Picketpost Mountain, the Supersition Mountains, Alamo Canyon and endless rolling southern Arizona desert terrain
- the Gila River (I mean, water in the desert is pretty much always the most rad thing ever)
This is where I should probably get off of my high horse and admit that after a full year of obsessively racing mountain bikes (and paying steep entry fees!) the Picketpost Punisher was my first Arizona Endurance Series Race.If you are interested in riding the 76-mile Picketpost course, or one of the shorter versions, GPX files can be downloaded on the Arizona Endurance Series website. That’s the other rad thing about grassroots mountain bike racing–you don’t actually have to show up at the race to race.