Cyclists Making Tracks In Rim Country



If a 24-hour mountain bike race is not an extreme sport, it probably should be. An estimated 400 men and women will descend on Payson this weekend for the first Payson Stampede 24-Hour Mountain Bike Challenge.

Riders and their support crews will be arriving in the area starting Thursday. The actual race is Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19.


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.

"We have a LeMans start at noon 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.

He explained a LeMans start involves putting all the bikes on one side of a designated area and the riders at the opposite side. The riders will have a foot race around the perimeter of the center grounds to their bikes and once mounted, do another race around the grounds to open up the field.

A 24-hour mountain bike race is a test of physical and mental endurance.rganizers promise it will also be "A great weekend with friends, teammates and fellow competitors.A carnival, a festival, a wild time." The 24-hour race is over a proscribed and set loop that includes both forest trails and paved streets.asinski designed the race course for the event. Both teams and individuals will compete. The winner completes the most number of loops in 24 hours.

Tucson Racing, sponsor of the event calls the Payson Stampede the newest and best 24-hour mountain bike race on the schedule.

Racers who have pre-registered will pick up their packets Thursday, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and from noon to 7 p.m. on Friday. There will also be registrations taken at that time, but none allowed on the day of the race, however, pre-registrations may still be collected Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.

The contestants will meet at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, June 18 at the event center for final instructions. they have the chance to pre-ride the course on Friday.

Awards will be presented to the winners in the various categories beginning at 2 p.m., Sunday.

"Because this is the first one, we really don't expect a lot of out-of-state participants," Basinski said.

Providing special assistance with security for the course and safety of the riders will be Payson's police, fire and parks and recreation departments.

"The event center is an excellent venue for this," Basinski said. "Most 24-hour mountain bike races take place in the middle of nowhere and rarely have the riders on pavement. Because of the challenging nature of the course, I think they are going to appreciate the pavement and use it to make up time."

He said the racers will get a special treat from Beverly Nethken and the OxBow Saloon. There will be racks for the bikes and tables outside, plus preferential treatment for the racers, including some coupons for discounts. "They can ride by, place an order for a sandwich or something and on the next pass collect it," Basinski explained.

"It is going to be a real festival atmosphere. With the events Carol (McCauley) has scheduled, plus a concert in the park that night, there will be lots for all the support people to do. The concert is supposed to be Latin music and that will be a real plus for the riders, with that beat."

In addition to the events in an around Main Street for the Payson Stampede, Basinski said there will have a showing of spaghetti Westerns at the event center, with the riders going between the audience and the screen, "It will be adding to the heckling factor," Basinski said.

The spaghetti Western theme will be kicked off on Friday, when a pasta dinner is prepared for the racers, their families and support crews. A dawn pancake breakfast is also planned.

"We really expect to see more teams than individuals competing," Basinski said, "And Payson will have its own team in the race, the Payson Posse with Wayne Gorry, 50, Ken Shepherd, 45, Nick Payne, 28, and Eric Kush, 27."

He said he has been given tremendous assistance from Mazatzal Casino, which is the primary sponsor of the event, and especially from Sue Dolan and Lanelle Hooke from the casino staff. Other major sponsors are Qwest, APS and the town of Payson.

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