Cyclists Burn The Midnight Rubber At Payson's Inaugural 24-Hour Race

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Clip in, grease up, and get ready for Payson's first 24-hour mountain bike race this weekend.

Event organizers expect 400 men and women from all over the state to compete in the Payson Stampede 24-Hour Mountain Bike Challenge.

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Ken Shepherd, left, and Wayne Gorry, are the two "old-timers" on the Payson Posse mountain bike racing team. The two, along with Eric Kush and Nick Payne will be in the Payson Stampede this weekend.

Thursday, competitors and their support crews will start arriving and warming up for the big race. The contest begins Saturday, June 18 and ends Sunday, 24 hours later.

"We have a LeMans start at noon (Saturday) at the Payson Event Center," said Dan Basinski, who has worked with Main Street Program Director Carol McCauley and others to put the event together.

A LeMans start, named after a starting method used in early car racing in the French city with the same name, involves putting all the bikes on one side of a designated area. The riders wait at the opposite side, and when signaled, run a foot race around the perimeter of the center grounds to their bikes. Once on their bikes, competitors race around the grounds to open up the field.

The course is a set loop that includes forest trails and paved streets. Basinski designed the race course. The winner is the person or team who completes the most number of loops in 24 hours.

Basinski said Mazatzal Casino, the primary sponsor, has been a tremendous help, especially Sue Dolan and Lanelle Hooke from the casino staff. Other major sponsors include Qwest, APS and the town of Payson.

The Payson Stampede Street Festival is the newest draw in a series of festivals and events that Main Street Project Manager Carol McCauley hopes will revitalize the town's reputation as the festival capital of Arizona.

The Stampede takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, June 18 in conjunction with the mountain bike race. During the festival, a large portion of Main Street will be closed.

"We have 127 vendors signed up to participate in this event," McCauley told the town council last week. "We have artists. We have jewelers. We have wood carvers, spices and herbs, hand-crocheted items and much, much more.

"Our food vendors include Greek food, Mexican food, bratwurst, barbecue, roasted pork, homemade ice cream, snow cones, and, again, much more.

"We have music, kids' entertainment," she continued. "We have a kids' train that's going to go up and down the street, and puppeteers. We have a horse-drawn carriage that will take people up and down Main Street."

For more information, call the town of Payson Main Street Office at (928) 468-6074.

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