Rock Hoppers Vie For Tough-Guy Distinction

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Mountain bikers put on their brain buckets, put the peddle to the metal and burned rubber over death cookies Saturday during the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona's Payson Pounder race.

The Payson Pounder, coined for the back-breaking, muscle-jarring course over Walnut Flat and Shoofly Loop's rocky terrain, is the fifth race in a series of seven Arizona state championship events.

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Bikers line up for the 45-49 sport class race. Ken Shepherd of Payson placed first in this division. The sport class is generally designated for intermediate cyclists gaining experience in the sport.

"The local boys came up big time," said race official Dan Basinski.

Payson's golden boy, elementary school teacher Wayne Gorry took the bull by the horns and snagged second place in the Expert Men 50 Plus division.

Chip off the old block, Cypress Gorry, 11, bagged second place in the Junior Boys 12 and under division.

"This is his first year racing," Basinski said. "And this was his best showing."

Seventeen-year-old Eric Molitor of Payson won first place in his debut race in the Junior 17-18 division.

Competitors in the 45-49 Sport Men division couldn't hold a candle to first-place finisher, Ken Shepherd.

"He had a lot of pressure on him to win," Basinski said. "He won last time in Gardner Canyon and his whole family was there to watch him win this one."

Basinski said the event attracted 250 participants, and with all those people, it was one heck of a good time.

Basinski added his thanks to the forest service for their cooperation.

In June, the MBAA will host a 24-hour race in Payson.

The next state championship event will be held April 23 in Prescott.

For more information, visit www.mbaa.net.

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