Payson High School teacher George Conley and his son Daniel turned the 30th Annual El Tour de Tucson bicycle race into a highly memorable bonding adventure.
“Our riding time took 5:54 and it was great for me to have so much quality father and son time,” George said. “I loved watching the expression on other riders’ faces when they noticed Daniel’s hair flowing in the wind when he and I passed them.”
As a PHS student and competitive rider, Daniel was quickly recognized by his long red hair, now accompanied by a short beard.
Although George and Daniel have competed in previous El Tour de Tucson events, those were 60-mile races. This year, they entered the 85-mile segment.
“We decided to kick it up a notch,” George said.
Daniel graduated two years ago from Payson High School and is now enrolled at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff where he is a sophomore majoring in secondary education and math.
“He earned a tuition waiver for exceeding all of his AIMS tests and he is a (dormitory) resident assistant, so he gets a free dorm (room) and meal plan as payment,” said George. “Who knows, maybe he will end up teaching math at Payson High.”
As a junior at PHS three years ago, Daniel pedaled his way to his goal of some day becoming a national champ.
The then 16-year-old cyclist earned the elusive title at the USA Cycling 24-hour Mountain Bike National Championships held near Moab, Utah.
There, he was the starring member on the Quadruple Gnar four-person team that finished first in the Men’s Junior Class and 12th overall among the 50 teams competing.
In the race, Conley’s relay team completed 19 seven-mile laps, never resting during the 24-hour time period.
The race began at noon on a Saturday and ended at noon on Sunday.
Earlier that year while competing in USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Cross Country Championships near Granby Ranch, Colo. he was ninth in the elite Category 1, Men’s 15-16-years division.
His time of 1:53.34 over a 17.8-mile course was just 8-plus minutes off the overall winner’s pace.
Also that year, Conley won the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona State Championship in the Category 1, Men’s 15-18 division amassing 403 points during the eight-race series.
catch. Sami expressed the same emotions, telling listeners her mother was proud to see her make the throw.
With the tribute a rousing success, Sami has turned her attention to basketball — she’s a star on the Centennial High School girls team. Jordan continues to play football hoping to lead the school to postseason success.
The stirring tribute is what makes prep athletes special. On no other stage in modern society could a show of love and respect be done successfully.