Dateline: February 15th in a location that may or may not be close to Dick Cheney's spider hole. A contingent of one speed freaks, geeks and yahoos gathered for the 6th time in as many years to bang elbows and cough up lungs in an effort to score points and punks. It was the annual Single Speed Punk Bike Enduro, a one geared event inspired by Dirt Rag Mag's own long running PBE. This year's event was the biggest yet but it would not be without controversy.
For the uninitiated, the Punk Bike is a stage "race"/group ride that's every bit as free form as the TdF is steeped in tradition. Le Mans starts, riders required to swap bikes, starting stages without warning; anything and everything is a possibility to keep the riders off balance. As always, the weird weather in this region threatened to postpone the event due to trail conditions. This year the course was completely new and routed to combine fresh trails with durability in hopes that moderate conditions wouldn't require a new launch date. Even so, warm weather, snow melt and rain had me sweating up to the last minute to make the call to ride or revise. The MTB gods came through for once and offered up a light snow and cold temps the night prior that allowed things to go off as planned with only minor modifications to the course as the weather poked above freezing later in the day.
After a slight delay the kats and kittens were herded down the trail as I stayed back for a few stragglers. Fortunately I rolled out when I did and caught a large train of riders snaking down a wrong trail as a gap must have formed between them and the front group. Back on track, everyone made their way to the start for instructions and their first chance at points.
Uphill, downhill, technical features, a little group riding and a massive pile of bikes got things going for the first half. The day stretches out, you meet old friends, make some new ones, laugh at crashes, bump shoulders, make moves at the finish to grab points. For the most part all is fair in this game. At the bike swap stage I noticed someone had smuggled in a geared bike. Didn't they get the memo? I never did find out who this scofflaw was. Mid-way through we took an adult beverage break, warmed our bones by the fire and lingered in the snow until the barely pop provided by Clipper City was drained dry. Then down the trail over big rocks and drops to the next stage. We lost some riders at this time, victims of the clock and expiring day passes. The "no dab" trials type stage yielded only a few success stories and one very tacoed wheel.An uphill dirt road stage that started with an over the shoe stream ford and we were almost done. Ten stages total, finished in the woods and time to do the points tally. The trophy crew was not present at the appointed meeting spot so I announced we'd tally at the cars and hope they were there. Uh oh, trouble on the horizon but I didn't see it coming.
In the early years points were counted at the bar where people gathered to refuel on food and beer, similar to the original Dirt Rag style of having to be in it for the long haul. The last couple years we wrapped up on site, in the woods in an attempt to include more people who scored high and didn't make the post party. Either way, must be present to win was always the rule, one of the few rules in play.
Climbing rocky trail for a couple of miles we arrive back and I make the call for points holders to see me. At the points tally, one fast guy first timer is far ahead of others although most of his points come from captured punks and not stage placing. He's figured out a time tested strategy early on. The top two ladies, are in a tight race but a found ticket pushes one over the top. I make a few more calls for points and declare the winners. For the second year in a row, a couple is crowned winners, although a different pair than last year.
As I head back to the car to change and head to the bar to relax I pass a fixed gear ninja who I know had some points and say "Hey, where were you, I didn't get your points". A quick tally of points in possession, both earned and donated, and it looks like a tie. Possession, that's the key with the punks and the points. Crap, how do you deal with this I ask myself? With the trophies awarded and the winners already off the mountain I make the (tough) executive decision that possession (of the trophy) and "must be present to win" will need to rule the day. No NORBA, no payouts, no protest period. Just a bunch of friends out riding their single speeds together, that's what this is all about and hopefully everyone else agrees.
For the last few years there has always been points wheeling and dealing, shufflin' and hustlin' as people drop out to go home and turn over their bounty to remaining riders. Was this how it's always been? I don't entirely recall although in the back of my head I seem to recall we didn't do it this way in the early days. No matter, with the "hardly a rule to be had" attitude of the event, this is where we evolved to today. Maybe time for a shift, gotta earn it to own it. Should you be able to have more than one set of points for a stage? Move the awards back to the post ride bar gathering? Or maybe, things are getting too complicated. Single Speed Punk Bike Enduro: Victim of it's own success? Bigger every year, where's the breaking point? Not sure, but I think we are getting close. Maybe we are there. Too much pork for just one fork?
Whatever it becomes, it's always a good time. Time to stop over thinking it. Big thanks to all who helped out and to all who came out to play. Dig through this thread and enjoy a few pix. See you on the trail.