The Rim Country was well represented at the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona Estrella Especial race held Feb. 25 at Estrella Mountain Region Park.
A team of 10 area riders entered the fray in a race that is the second in the MBAA's five-event state championship series. The first race, the McDowell Mountain Meltdown, was held Jan. 28 near Phoenix. The riders will meet again for the third race, the White Tank Whirlwind, on April 1.
The fourth race in the series, known as the Payson Pounder, will be held north of Payson on April 19.
The series concludes with the Prescott Punisher on May 20.
Results of Payson riders in the Estrella Especial:
Junior 10 and under: Trevor Titus-Zimmerschied took second place, two laps of the 1.5 mile Junior Loop. All remaining Junior and Beginner races were held on the Long Loop, a ten mile lap that was very rocky, sandy in several places, included many steep descents into and climbs out of arroyos, and had a tough climb over a ridge near the end.
Junior 13-14: Daniel Conley took first place. Conley had an incredible race. He took the lead early and finished the lap in a very fast 59:47. To break one hour on a course this difficult is a major accomplishment for someone his age.
Cypress Gorry took fourth place. Since he had been sick for much of the past two weeks, Gorry was satisfied with his finish. With his first place in the first race he maintains a narrow one-point lead for the championship series.
Brandon Christenson took seventh place. Christenson was really the big winner for the day because he won a $600 suspension fork in a raffle that all racers were entered in. According to Devin Walla, the team sponsor at Manzanita Adventure Sports, it was the best thing that could happen to Christenson because the shock on his bike was totally worn out and needed replacement.
Junior 17-18: Eric Molitor took first place. Molitor took the lead at the start and rode strong to win by a wide margin.
Beginner 19-29: Nick Payne took third place.
Sport races consisted of one Long Loop and two Tech Loops for a total of 20 miles. The Tech Loop was five miles of rocky, steep ups and downs through washes and over ridges.
Sport 45-49: Ken Shepherd took first place.
"It was brutal, rough and rocky, dusty and hot," Shepherd said. "I wouldn't ever go ride there just for fun." Shepherd went out hard on the first lap and got a good gap on his competitors. Late in the race, he was behind a racer from another class. That racer's rear wheel kicked out a big rock right in front of him.
Trying to avoid the rock, Shepherd went over his handlebars. Fortunately, he landed on his feet and was able to run to a stop.
After that he rode more cautiously to win by 45 seconds.
Sport 50+: Brian Goble took first place. Last year, Goble crashed and broke four ribs at this race, so he was naturally a little cautious about this course.
This year, his only problem was a wrong turn that took him off course for a short distance before he discovered his mistake, but he still went on to win by a dominating fourteen minutes over his nearest competitor.
Expert 50+: Wayne Gorry took first place. The expert racecourse was two Long Loops and one Tech Loop for a total of 25 miles.
"This race was so rough and rocky that my arms were actually more tired than my legs," Gorry said. "The finish of my race was the most exciting I've ever had in sixteen years of racing. I caught my opponent, Steve Becker, at the crest of the big climb near the end of the last lap.
"He had a two-minute lead at the end of two laps, but was fading fast near the end. I blew by him right at the top and let it all go on the downhill race over the last mile to the finish. Fortunately for me there was one last short climb of about 200 yards where I was able to extend my lead and avoid a sprint finish."
Shimano Kids Race: "Team Titus-Zimmerschied" represented Payson. The race through the staging area was a great opportunity for the little ones to get a taste of racing.