The 2017 Vision Quest and Counting Coup will go down as one of the two most difficult years on record, one that tested, machine, body and resolve. The drizzle that fell was enough to create mud that broke derailleurs, chains and spirits. Black Star Canyon Road took its first victims quickly and for most of the field this first climb was as much walking as riding. Many who made the first aid station at Maple Springs before the cut-off time decided to DNF rather than continue. The aid station staff was frantically washing mud off of the participants bikes as they refueled.
Out of the 93 riders that started the Vision Quest, 34 finished and 59 did not finish. In the Counting Coup event, out of the 150 riders that started the event, 103 finished and 47 did not finish; the staff commented that it took Tinker 30 minutes longer to get to Aid Station 1 this year than last year when he was the first rider through.
It wasn't only participants who suffered during the event; Warrior's Society member and the Holy Jim sweep rider Keith Eckstein had this to say about his day acting as support:
"Had a great and eventful Saturday, volunteering at the Bear Springs checkpoint (the Holy Jim Trail and the Main Divide) for the Vision Quest mtb race. I began pedaling up to my station 5:00 AM, up Holy Jim. Raining and cold the entire time. Despite my rain gear, by the time I arrived at Bear Springs, I couldn't have been any wetter if I jumped in the ocean. As it was probably upper 50's temps up there at the top of Holy Jim, I was forced to walk up and down the fire road to stave off hypothermia. Nothing worse than being wet and cold. Fortunately I had planned enough ahead to have brought a dry shirt. Which helped immensely.
Was a blast seeing the racers come past, ribald comments, delusional expressions on faces. Due to the rain, the initial slog up Black Star was a mud fest. Due to the rain and the resulting mud in Black Star, the riders spent too much energy at the start of the race getting up Black Star. So, by the time the riders got to Bear Springs, they were pretty ragged. Good spirits overall though.
By 1:30 the last racers had come through Bear Springs and Jason and I swept the course, following them down Holy Jim and back down Trabuco Wash to the finish line. One hardly soul, undaunted by having only the front brake, made it all the way down Holy Jim in one piece. Following him down the trail, I was impressed with his impressive efforts.
By 3:00 I was back at Parker's Ranch, finally dry and warm.
Tinker Juarez came through my station at 9:04 in the morning, btw.
Not too shabby for an old guy..."
We had one major injury in the event suffered by Warrior's Society member Mike Caffrey, who broke his shoulder, two ribs and punctured a lung descending down the backside of Saddleback Peak. Keith, who as I previously mentioned, was manning the support station at the Main Divide and the Holy Jim Trail, was one of the first to see Mike after his crash and had this to say:
"I will always be amazed by how Mike dealt with eating it on the fire road descent, just 1/2 mile above my station. Gladly, Calvin by coincidence happened upon the scene just as Mike was picking himself up off the rocks. In a feat of superhuman-ness, Mike descended the fire road, *on the bike* to my station with a broken collar bone, two broken ribs and a puncture lung. And, he wanted to descend the 5+ miles down Holy Jim back to the bottom. Calvin and I had a time convincing him to just eat some Aleve and hop in one of the support trucks."
We wish Mike the best and hope to see him with the club at the Trabuco Challenge.
Despite the conditions, the survivors of one of our toughest years made it across the finish line as described by Keith Parsons, our finish line director:
"I manned the finish line most of the day, and for the first time I remember, there were more frowns than smiles coming across the line, with the majority of riders saying it was the toughest event they had ever participated in. Even the leaders were completely exhausted crossing the finish (except Tinker). It was all most could do just to get over and have their photos taken."
Heidi Volpe, the second place finisher in the Counting Coup (on a single speed), described her experience:
"...even though it was the hardest race she had ever done, it helped her realize what she was capable of."
Those who finished truly earned their feathers. And as far as the finishers go...
The top five males in the Vision Quest were:
The top female finishers in the Vision Quest were:
The youngest rider in the Vision Quest was Dylan Vanek at 15 years old and the oldest VQ finisher was Joe Ruffino at 62 years old. Gerald Phillips at the young age of 70 years old finished the Counting Coup to celebrate his birthday.
The top five males in the Counting Coup were:
The top five females in the Counting Coup were:
Our special Bob Haislett Award that is given away each year representing perserverance and determination was awarded to Dan Metivier's family. Sadly, last October Dan lost a battle with cancer. Dan had finished the Counting Coup two times and had plans on someday finishing the Vision Quest. Due to Dan's passion for cycling his family was given the award as well as a finishing feather for the Vision Quest Dan was never able to receive. His story brought tears to the entire awards ceremony and he will always have a special place in our mountain bike community. RIP Dan Metivier knowing you completed your Vision Quest.
The "Last Man Standing" award was given to Amy Travis when she finished her Vision Quest. She may have been the last to cross the finish on that day but she was one of only a small field of finishers in one of the hardest years ever with a very respectable time of 9:23. In any normal year, she would not have been the last finisher. She is one strong woman!
We thank all our volunteers who brushed the trails, made the awards, prepared the packets, manned the start, the check points, manned mobile units, operated the ham communications and helped at the finish line; it would not be possible without you. You are once special group of volunteers that will get to the event at all hours of the early morning and stay til we are all finished and cleaned up at the end of the day.
We also thank our sponsors, El Pollo Loco (who provided the excellent lunch), The Path Bike Shop, The Other Room, Sena, Clif Bar, Coca Cola (thanks Anthony Beneventi) and Hammer Products. Our participants were well taken care of on the course thanks to you all!
Thanks also to the County of Orange, the U.S. Forest Service, Steve Parker owner of the Parker Ranch and the SOARA Ham Radio Club for use of their repeaters. Thanks to Richard Barnes of Naumaddic Arts who gave us permission to use his artwork as the basis for our t-shirt design this year. And special thanks to Chris Williams of Replay Timing for a great job handling all our timing needs and making our event look more professional!.
Our next event is the Trabuco Challenge Bike Race and Bike Festival on Saturday, May 13th. The venue will be at the Parker Ranch. This event will be part of the 2017 King and Queen of the Santa Ana's Mountain Bike Championship Series.
The Championship Series will consist of two classes, Pro and Intermediate. The Pro Class of the series will consist of the 2017 Vision Quest and the 2017 Trabuco Challenge Pro Class combined finishing times.
The Intermediate Class series will consist of the 2017 Counting Coup and the 2017 Trabuco Challenge Intermediate Class combined finishing times.
We will have both female and male champions in three age groups: 15-19, 20-49, 50 and up.
To receive a personalized number plate with your name on it and an event t-shirt you must register by April 24th. Registration will be open until May 11th but there will be no t-shirt or personalized number plate for those that register after April 24th.
To register go for the Trabuco Challenge click here
Thanks again for your support of our events!
The Warrior's Society