By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
The Maricopa Trail is considered a secret to some.
Jeffery Frost is continuing former Maricopa County Supervisor Andy Kunasek’s goal of bringing awareness of the trail with the Prickly Pedal Tour. This year’s date is Saturday, January 18.
“He had this vision and was always a supporter of recreational activities,” says Frost, of Scottsdale-based BlueWolf Events LLC.
“The Maricopa Trail took a long time to develop and build. It was his vision to produce events, have a race on the trail, and let people know this trail exists. It’s an undiscovered gem in the Valley.”
The Prickly Pedal Tour starts at Game and Fish Headquarters, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, at 11 a.m.
The 40-mile ride has three times cross-country stages. Stage one is from Spur Cross Conservation Area to Andy Kunasek Trailhead. Stage two travels from the Maricopa Trail intersection with the Black Canyon Trailhead, near Game and Fish Headquarters, to the east side of New River Road/Maricopa Trail crossing. Stage three starts just west of Lake Pleasant Harbor Boulevard on the Maricopa Trail and finishes at Ten Lane Boat Launch Area of Lake Pleasant Regional Park via the Beardsley and Frog Tanks Trail.
“The trail itself circumnavigates Phoenix, and the Prickly Pedal Race goes from Cave Creek out to Lake Pleasant,” he says.
Category winners are determined by the fastest combined time of the three stages. Each timed stage showcases Maricopa Trail’s diversity—aggressive ascents and descents, grinding it out on the flats, rocks, water, sand, mud and roller coaster runs are all part of the fun of this challenging course.
“There’s every kind of possible desert terrain out there,” Frost says. “It’s flat with saguaros. Cave Creek/Carefree is more mountainous. There are hilly, beautiful trails. It’s a multiuse trail; it’s not just open to motorized vehicles.”
This year Frost is expecting more than 350 racers from across the country. Proceeds from the Prickly Pedal support the Maricopa Trail and Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization striving to provide sustainable financial support to the newly constructed Maricopa Regional Trail System.
Racers and volunteers will have a free snack provided by Hickman’s Egg Ranch and free entry into the afterparty and award ceremonies from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The post race festivities include snacks and refreshments, a beer garden and a free kids’ race at Lake Pleasant Regional Park.
A shuttle will take racers, friends and family to the afterparty in Cave Creek.
“We have a really exciting finish line at Lake Pleasant with activities,” Frost says. “One is a free kids’ race for kids younger than 10. Moms and dads race their bikes and finish at Lake Pleasant and the kids race a little course while everyone’s unwinding.
“We try to attract every level of mountain bikers, so it’s very much a beginner-friendly race,” Frost says. “There are also some more enthusiastic folks who really race their bikes.”
Prickly Pedal Tour, Game and Fish Headquarters, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, pricklypedal.com, 11 a.m. Saturday, January 18, $30-$80.