Grand Prix Puts Rim Country On Map For Cyclists

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Buckle down Rim residents, a horde of competitive bikers are coming to town in April.

"Between 300 to 600 mountain bikers from Arizona and surrounding states will be attending Race No. 6 of the Arizona State Championship series," said Devin Wala of Manzanita Cyclery.

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Between 300 and 600 mountain bikers will test their mettle in Rim country terrain when one of the state championship races is held here April 3.

The race has been named the Payson Grand Prix. Manzanita Cyclery/Adventure Sports and PROCON are sponsoring the race.

He said this race will be one of the most brutal mountain biking events in the history of the Mountain Biking Association of Arizona.

It will start in the relatively calm enclave of Rumsey Park, then the course takes riders over Crackerjack Mine Road into the Doll Baby Ranch and up over Snowstorm Mountain.

"Professional and expert level racers will detour down Pole Hollow on the way up to Mt. Snowstorm," Wala said.

"Out of all the venues, I like this one the best," said Dan Basinski of DCB Adventures, which is promoting the race. "This course is a bit different from the rest -- a distance to challenge and elevation to test your mettle."

The course is between 15 to 35 miles long, depending on the groups competing.

"While most other races have beginner level racers riding a course of no more than about 15 miles, the beginner course for the Payson Grand Prix will be closer to 30 miles," Wala said.

The race is Saturday, April 3, with the first group of riders hitting the course at 9 a.m. This first group will include the professionals, experts and "Junior X Men"; the second group heads out at 9:15 a.m. with all sports, single speed and "Junior X Women"; and at 9:30 a.m. all the beginners, juniors, 15 and older, and first-timers, as well as junior men and women, ages 13 and 14, will go out. Riders 12 and under will compete on an in-park course.

Wala said several local riders will participate, including members of Team Soggy Dog, Payson's local mountain bike team, sponsored by Manzanita Cyclery/Adventure Sports and ERA Realty.

Racing should conclude around 2 p.m., with awards and a post race party starting at 2:30 p.m.

Spectator areas will be available at the trailhead to see the race start and finish.

Manzanita Cyclery/Adventure Sports, will have a "Sponsor Village" open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., which is open to everyone and will feature a variety of goods, entertainment -- including a drag race track and "Huffy Toss" -- and refreshments.

"Many people don't realize the level of effort that goes into an event like this," Wala said.

Besides the work of the sponsors and promoter, many organizations and individuals, including the town of Payson and Payson Parks and Recreation and the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, help with the coordination and planning.

"The race is really made possible by the individuals who donate their time for not much more than lunch and a T-shirt, in order to clear trails, help with marshaling the course, registration and support," Wala said.

"A special thanks is due to members of the Rim Country 4 Wheelers Club," he said. "The course is long, rocky and technical, and the only vehicles that will be able to navigate it and have the capability to position course marshals are going to be true 4-wheel drive rigs."

Wala said there is still time for those interested in helping with the race to get involved, they only need to get in touch with him at Manzanita Cyclery, (928) 474-0744.

Wala's shop will also be the site for last-minute event registration and packet pick-up, according to DCB Adventures. Late registration will be Friday, April 2, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Manzanita Cyclery, 307 S. Beeline Highway in Payson.

Additional information about the Payson Grand Prix and other Mountain Biking Association of Arizona races and events can be found at dcbadventures. com

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