Rim Country Middle School teacher Scott Davidson's mountain biking debut turned into a race he won't soon forget.
Competing Jan. 19 at the McDowell Mountain Meltdown near Phoenix, Davidson captured the Beginner Men 30-39-years age division title, covering the 10.5 mile course in 51:59.
Davidson's nearest competitor, Aaron Charlton, was three minutes behind the RCMS teacher.
Davidson has been a fixture on the local mountain biking scene for several years but only as a training partner and adviser for a former student, 14-year-old Daniel Conley.
"I was training with him and he kind of talked me into entering," Davidson said.
"I had done a little racing in college (Northern Arizona University), but none after that."
Davidson said his success in the McDowell Mountain Race has him hooked on returning to the sport.
"I plan on entering the other races in the (Mountain Bike Association of Arizona) series," he said.
His goal is to eventually finish ahead of another racer, Brock Boynton, who participates in the Beginner Men, 19-29-years division.
"I was about 35 seconds behind him at the Meltdown," Davidson said.
Also at the Phoenix area race, Conley -- competing in the Sports Men 1-18-years age division -- pedaled his way to a gold medal in 1:36:41.2. His age division raced over a 20-mile course.
In winning, the Rim Country teen edged Kallan Creager by just 14 seconds.
Conley chose to move up to the Sports Men Division after winning the MBAA state title last season.
The Payson High School freshman also shined July 21, 2007 at the USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Championships at Mount Snow, Vt.
There, he finished third in his first appearance on the national stage, covering the 12-mile course in 1:41.55.31.
In the Beginner Men 15-16-years division at the McDowell Meltdown, Payson's Cypress Gorry took first in 1:00:22.3. Gorry is actually a 14-year-old eighth-grader, but decided to move up an age division for better competition.
His father, longtime Rim Country mountain biking guru and MBAA state champion Wayne Gorry, was sixth in the grueling Marathon Men division.
While the desert course was 63 miles in length, it was not the longest in which he has competed.
In 1999 at the 100-mile Leadville, Colo. mountain race, he finished 13th overall and second in his age division.
"I've put in an application to enter it again, but it's so popular, entrance is now on a lottery," he said. "It'll be interesting to see how I do all these years later."
Also from Payson at the Meltdown, Logan Titus-Zimmerschied was fourth in the Beginner Men 1-10-years division and his brother, Trevor, was sixth in the Beginner Men 11-12-years category.
Chelsea Titus-Zimmerschied was fourth among the Beginner Women 1-12-years riders competition.
Next on the MBAA six-race series for the Payson racers is the White Tank Whirlwind, to be held Feb. 9. In past seasons, the MBAA calendar has included a spring stop in the Rim Country for the annual Payson Pounder race.
This year, however, there will be no local race.
Davidson said he was unsure why the Payson race was omitted from the series.
"We were just told they were making some change in the series," he said.
Wayne Gorry believes the demise of the race might be because of declining participation and the rugged nature of the course that was located northeast of Payson.
"Anytime the races are outside of Phoenix, attendance goes down," he said.
"And there are some (racers) who just don't want the type of challenge it was."