For the Payson Stampede 24-Hour Mountain Bike Challenge to become the national championships it's destined to be, the event date had to be changed.
"We've always held it in the spring (May 5 and 6 last year), but it needed to be moved to fall to be the championships because that's the end of the season and the week before the (mountain bike) convention is in Las Vegas," said local mountain biking guru and NORBA official Dan Basinski.
This year, the Stampede will be held Sept. 20-21 at the Payson Event Center and on mountain trails around the Rim Country.
With the date change, the Payson event will become the 2009 and 2010 24 Hour Mountain Bike National Championships.
For the upcoming Stampede, Basinski will serve as course director and the onsite NORBA official.
Among his pre-race duties this year was to tweak the racecourse by lengthening it to about 10 miles and changing some of the routes.
Basinski said the new course would begin on the event center trail and head south over old Forest Service roads into West Saddle and along rocky ATV and Jeep trails near Oxbow Estates.
The finish is at the original start line at the Payson Event Center.
In past years, some Payson teams have fared well.
Of the four-person teams entered in the 2006 Veteran Division, the Payson Posse rode its way to the championship. The foursome -- Ken Shepherd, Nick Payne, Eric Kush and Wayne Gorry -- completed 25 10-mile laps during the endurance event. The victory marked the second successive year the Payson Posse won the Stampede's Veteran Division title.
In the 24-hour 2005 solo male 19- to 29-year age group, Payson cyclist Eric Molitor finished third. He was 13th overall among the solo cyclists.
For the upcoming race, cyclists can race solo or in two-, four- or five-person teams. For the five-person teams, one entrant must be a woman.
Also there is a corporate team division with 6 to 10 riders.
Also, races can be for 6, 12 or 24 hours.
The 6-hour race will begin at noon and finish at 6 p.m. The 12-hour race is from noon to midnight and the 24-hour race goes from 12 p.m. to 12 p.m.
Basinski said it is for those riders who want to race solo but do not want to go for 24 hours.
Also, a youth division for cyclists 19 years and under has been added. They will have the option of racing two laps on the Rim Country course.
The number of laps completed during the designated hours will determine the winners.
Basinski anticipates the winning 24-hour rider this year could complete about 22 of the 10-mile laps.
Although the Stampede is a test of physical and mental endurance, Basinski also calls it "a happening, a festival" in which cyclists from around the west gather for friendship and a wild time.
Many of the competitors will camp out near PEC.
For more information, call Jonathan Grider at (928) 607-6737 or log on to www.tucsonracing.com/.