Payson can now call itself the small town mountain biking capital of Arizona. Proof the community is deserving of the title can be found in the final results of the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona (MBAA) racing season.
In the five-race series, which concluded May 20 with the Prescott Punisher, Payson produced six state champions.
They included Nick Payne, Eric Molitor, Cypress Gorry, Ken Shepherd, Brian Goble and Wayne Gorry.
Also from Payson, Trevor Titus Zimmerschied finished third in the series just six points out of first place and Daniel Conley took first in the Junior 13/14 years class at Prescott.
"No small town in the state had as many champions as did Payson," National Off Road Bicycle Association (NORBA) official Dan Basinski said. "The town might also have had the first father and son state champions -- Wayne and Cypress (Gorry)."
Basinski also points out that Payson is the home of three former MBAA state champs who did not compete in the 2006 series -- John Lake, Cindy Poole and himself.
The MBAA state championship series kicked off Jan. 28 at the McDowell Mountain Meltdown near Phoenix.
The second, the Estrella Especial, was Feb. 25 at Estrella Mountain Regional Park and the third, the White Tank Whirlwind, contested April 1, was north of the Valley.
The Rim Country hosted the fifth race, the Payson Pounder, April 29, northeast of town.
In the five month-long series, Molitor, Shepherd, Goble and Wayne Gorry rode their way to age/experience division wins in all five of the MBAA races.
For Wayne Gorry, who was competing in the Expert 50-years-plus division, the win represented his third MBAA state championship.
He won the Sport 35-44-years title in 1991 and the Expert 35-44-years crown in 1997.
He is also the two-time defending champion of the National Mountain Bike Marathon.
In winning the Prescott Punisher, Gorry was never seriously challenged, winning by over seven minutes -- his biggest margin of victory in the series.
Gorry said he was passed near the top of the first big uphill stretch but his opponent's bike broke down with mechanical problems that forced the rider to stop and make repairs.
Goble's win in the Sport 50-years division was his second state title in three years.
In 2004, he won the Beginner 40-49-years crown and this year dominated the field, winning every race by big margins.
Shepherd, racing in the Sport 45-49 years division, also easily won all his events.
Due to Goble and Shepherd's victories, NORBA rules require the two to move up in 2007 to the Expert class.
Cypress Gorry, a 12-year-old competing in the 13-14-years Junior Class, entered the Prescott Punisher with a slim one-point (243-242) lead over his season-long rival, Roman Roberts.
Although Gorry finished second at Prescott to Payson's Daniel Conley, his eight-minute victory over Roberts was enough to nail down the state championship.
Next year, Cypress Gorry will move up to the 15-16-years division.
In the 17-18 years Junior class at Prescott, Molitor rode his way to a victory, but not by the healthy margins he's enjoyed in the previous four MBAA races.
"He held on to (the) win by 23 seconds," Wayne Gorry said. "As usual, he took the lead at the start but was hounded by the second place rider."
In the 19-29 years Beginner class, Payne traveled to Prescott with a narrow series points lead over Ryan Riveras.
After Riveras crashed on a downhill stretch, Payne took the lead, only to lose by .4 of a second to Neal Wright.
Payne's second place effort, coupled with Riveras' fifth place showing, was enough to earn the Payson rider the state championship.
With the MBAA season at an end, local cyclists have the option of beginning preparations for the Second Annual Payson Stampede to be held June 17 and 18.
The 24-hour marathon team ride will include, for the first time, a 12-hour division and a six-hour individual ride.