peanut butter mtb race climb

If you happened to see my 2008 race report for the New Bethlehem Peanut Butter Festival MTB Race and want to join in, here are a few words of advice that should make your first time a little more enjoyable:

1. The Hills are Steep.

There are LOTS of climbs and descents, and 95% of them are steep. Some hills are virtually impossible to climb, especially if it’s wet. The descents are fast and usually followed by sharp turns, so make sure your brakes are tuned up!

2. Watch for Orange Spray Paint.

While I love the use of simple arrows to mark race courses, some races use what I call the “breadcrumb trail” method which adds a mental challenge / orienteering component to the race.

That’s the method used here, which consists of orange spray paint on the ground and orange ribbon hanging in the trees. You have to keep your eyes open and follow the orange “breadcrumbs” to stay on the correct trail.

3. Ride a Light, Fast Bike.

I raced this course on a hardtail and not once did I wish for full suspension, so I’d still go for the hard tail if given a choice. However, numerous podium finishers were riding lightweight full suspension bikes.

Just err on the side of light, fast, and efficient.

4. Be Ready for Bumps and Jumps.

While there are no real technical sections, no logs, and no rock gardens, the course is far from smooth. Many descents are rocky, while many are dirt/grass with lots of bumps and drainage ditches that turn into jumps if you’re not careful.

There are also some shale piles that I’m sure make great jumps for ATVs and motorcycles, yet are still fun at bicycle speeds.

5. The Start Will Be Bunched Up.

There is no monster climb to string out the field. You actually start going downhill on a paved road, and then do a short section of uphill before dropping off into the woods for a steep descent, stream crossing, and steep uphill.

It’s a total bottleneck with riders flying downhill then being greeted by a bunch of riders pushing their bikes up the next climb. Be careful.

6. It’s Worth It.

The climbs are long, but keep pushing hard, because the winners get free peanut butter!

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