Payson's Fab Five Race To Pounder Crowns

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The victory stand at the Payson Pounder Mountain Bike Race resembled a parade of Rim Country cyclists.

Ten local riders, five of them gold medalists, earned top-three finishes at the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona race held April 29 northeast of Payson.

The first place age/division champions included Daniel Conley, Eric Molitor, Ken Shepherd, Brian Goble and Wayne Gorry.

For Molitor, Shepherd, Goble and Gorry the victories were their fourth consecutive wins in MBAA state championship series.

With one circuit race remaining, the Prescott Punisher on May 20, the four are huge favorites to earn state titles.

However, the Prescott event is a double-points competition, which means the Payson riders still must finish the finale to avoid being upset.

Conley, competing in the junior 13-years division, won his third consecutive MBAA race by turning in a time of 58:56.

In the junior 17 to 18 years age division, Molitor won in 56:24.

The beginner and junior classes race one 10-mile loop around Houston Mesa and Shoofly Ruins.

Those in the older, more experienced classes raced two Houston Mesa loops and three Shoofly Loops.

In the sport 45-49-years plus class, Ken Shepherd easily won in 1:08:34. His race strategy turned unique when at the starting line he broke away from the pack and appeared to be cycling off the course.

"That's legal, he must know a smoother, faster way," race director and starter Dan Basinski told the crowd of onlookers.

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The Rim Country was well represented in the beginner and junior division with six fledgling riders earning top-three medals.

Goble won the Sport 50-years-plus class in 1:09.00 -- about 14 minutes faster than the division runner up.

Although Goble and Shepherd were entered in different divisions, the two started in the same group.

"The real race was between the two," said Gorry, a local mountain bike guru and former state champion. "Although Brian led for most of the race, Ken was able to pass him near the top of a tough climb up Walnut Flat road."

Gorry, in the Expert 50-years-plus, turned in the best time of the day finishing in 2:06.27.

Also for Payson, Cypress Gorry -- Wayne's son -- was second, behind Conley, in the junior 13-14 years division.

The runner-up finish earned Cypress Gorry enough points to lift him into first place in the series standings.

"He's one point ahead of Roman Roberts, the third place finisher in the Pounder," Wayne Gorry said.

In the beginner 19-29 years division, Nick Payson improved to second after finishing third in earlier MBAA races.

"A finish at the finals three places ahead of the points leader could earn Nick a state championship," Wayne Gorry said.

Trevor Titus-Zimmershied, competing in the junior 10-years-and-under class finished second for the fourth consecutive race.

The first race in the MBAA state championship, the McDowell Mountain Meltdown, was Jan. 28 near Phoenix.

The second, the Estrella Especial, was Feb. 25 at Estrella Mountain Region Park and the third, the White Tank Whirlwind, contested on April 1 north of the Valley.

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