Prescott Wonderschlautt: Mountain bikers thrill, then chill
PRESCOTT - The second annual Prescott "Wonderschlautt" apparently lived up to its name this weekend.
"It was awesome," mountain biker Kelly Macauley said Saturday, attesting to the "wonder" of the ride he had just completed.
And as he and others rested in front of the beer garden at the Park Plaza shopping center Saturday, also obvious was the "schlautt-ing." Definition: "To hang or chill out with little purpose other than to relax."
Macauley was one of 40 to 50 riders who participated in the "Wonderschlautt Epic," a 37-mile loop ride that was just one of a number of rides featured in the second annual Prescott mountain-biking event.
After completing the grueling ride that included a 4,675-foot-elevation gain, the riders were in agreement about the experience.
"Good ride, good company," said Geoff Gloceri, a Michigan native who attends Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
The camaraderie is crucial, they said. "When you're out there and you have somebody cheering you on, it's more fun," Gloceri said.
Although Saturday's ride was a more casual affair than Prescott's popular spring Whiskey Off-Road race, it still had its share of competition.
"It's not a race," Macauley said of the Wonderschlautt ride. "But anytime you're out there with a bunch of other riders, it's a race. You don't want to be the last one."
Pointing to Gloceri, Macauley said, "He passed me. But he helped me too, because he had GPS."
That is exactly the sort of atmosphere the Prescott Moun-tain Bike Alliance (PMBA) was aiming for when it planned the Wonderschlautt, an event intended to bring like-minded people together to celebrate "all things mountain bike."
"Our idea was that the Whiskey Off-Road is a great event in the spring," said Brad DeVries of PMBA. "And this is a fun series of rides in the fall."
Depending on their skill levels, the riders took about four and a half to five hours to finish the Epic.
The centerpiece ride was even more intense last year, when it followed a 55-mile route, with a 7,000-foot climb in elevation.
"We decided to condense it this year to get in more of the gems," said rider Steve Reynolds, who helped to put the route together. The new Epic route highlighted a number of trails in the Thumb Butte area.
Along with the scheduled rides, which took participants away from the event hub area, the Wonderschlautt also offered a host of activities in the parking lot of the Goodwin Street shopping center.
Among the most popular was the portable pump track that Canadian mountain-bike apparel company, Sombrio, brought to the Prescott event.
Late Saturday morning, teenagers and adults lined up to try the circular blacktop track.
After sailing over the rolling rises, 17-year-old rider Sir Fabein got back in line to try the pump track again.
"It's pretty cool," Fabein said, noting that the smooth surface of the track allowed for a speedy ride. "It's incredibly fast," he said.
David Andrews of Sombrio said the stop in Prescott was just one in a two-month-long tour with the pump track. Beginning at its home in North Vancouver, British Columbia, the pump track has made stops in Las Vegas, Moab, Utah, and Whistler, British Columbia.
The goal of the tour, Andrews said, is to generate interest in mountain biking and bring the pump-track activities into the local communities.
The Wonderschlautt kicked off on Friday night and continued all day on Saturday.
Steve Gottlieb, director of special events for the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, noted that business was brisk at the organization's beer garden Friday night, and he was optimistic about the potential of the Wonderschlautt in future years.
"It think it's going to be legendary," Gottlieb said. "PMBA's doing really well, and I think you'll see more events at Park Plaza."
In addition to the recreational aspect of the Wonderschlautt, Brooke Weitkunat of PMBA said the organization also is working to get the word out about sharing the local trails. To that end, the organization handed out about 45 bells to riders, and asked them to alert oncoming equestrians and hikers by ringing the bells.