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The first race of the Shimano Sundown Sprint Series

Story by Chris Vargas

The Start Little did we know we'd have to compete with 8th, 6th and 12th grade graduation ceremonies at the first event of the Shimano Sundown Sprint Series. Although many mountain bikers were kept busy recognizing the graduation of family and friends - that did not stop some very competitive mountain bikers from competing at the first event of the series.

Being the first time we've tried a weekday evening series we were apprehensive as to how everything would time out as far as getting the race off and having everyone back on time to start the festivities, which included dinner (salad, pasta, rolls, beer and soda) a prize raffle and awards. But everything went as planned and by 8:30 the awards were given out; but that did not stop people from hanging out past 9:00.

The park opened up at 4:30 p.m. for pre-riding and same-day registration; participants were allowed to ride the course until 6:00. Being that it takes novice riders around 40 to 60 minutes to ride the course that allowed plenty of time for those unfamiliar with the course to get 1 full lap in.

We had many people pre-view the course in the two weeks prior to this first event of the series so many participants were already familiar with the course (our next pre-view ride will be this Thursday, June 23rd, beginning at 6:00. For directions to the ranch email us)

Hiak a bike Although we had planned a Leman's start the lawn where we intended to start was very muddy from a car event held at the ranch a week before. An informal vote was taken by the participants and they decided to do a road start. With a few minor instructions they were off and running right on time at 6:30. As I previously mentioned in my past write-ups on the course - the climbing started almost immediately.

The interesting thing about the first 2/3 rd's of the course is it is steep climbing and steep dropping. The competitors have a lot of opportunity to pass; for those fast on the climbs and timid on the fast descents, watch out for those not so fast on the climbs but blazingly fast on the descents.

The great thing about the course is it demands both good climbing skills and good descent skills. It was great during the pre-view ride watching people climb the first climb from across the canyon at the top of the hike-a-bike and then seeing who was fast on the descent from the same vantage point; some riders got very squirrelly.

The hike-a-bike is the second climb you do in the event - and you're just recovering from the first climb - and hopefully survived the first descent down a steep fire road. Although you can peddle he first part of the hike-a-bike for a short while there's no escaping the fact that this is only a brief rest until you're pushing or carrying your bike up the ridge; your calves start to burn.

Once you reach the top of the hike-a-bike it's a short climb to the Warrior's Trail. Although the Warrior's Trail is a short descent it is steep and loose, as Rachel Park found out when she had a bad get off on the trail. In her own words the day after the event:

Rachels crash "Today I am okay, no broken bones and the only place they even considered stitches was my lip (I ended up without any). I'm told that the swelling is way down from when you saw it, so please rest assured that it isn't as bad as it looked.

By the way, the lip looks quite lovely; I'm not sure why anyone would want a collagen injection when they can just slam their face into a trail and get the same results.

To the best of my recollection, the cause of my fall was a combination of a poor line choice, stiff arms and too far forward on the seat. I think that I was carrying too much speed coming off of the two little jump bumps (too much confidence from having ridden it at the 12 hour practice and ride) and drifted to a loose line on the right, hitting something (either my front brake too hard or a root), and crashed down. I'm looking forward to riding that trail again, with this lesson in mind (after I heal a bit).

I did get a bit of advice from the hospital staff, such as: wearing a full face helmet (they suggested I do this while on foot, along with on a bike), training wheels, and walking-very very slowly (ha ha).

I wanted to make sure that you know that my fall was in no way related to you or the event, it was my first real big bloody fall....you were just lucky enough to be the ones to witness it. The trails were well marked with technical sections and I know that you did everything in your power to create a safe, but challenging event. I had great fun on the Warrior's Trail before, and I was pleased with your choice to include it in the race. My bike and I were just not in the "Zen" of things yesterday.

I want to thank you and the Warrior's Society, especially Calvin, Andy, and the guys that drove the truck and opened the gate (I didn't get their names). Calvin was awesome, holding my arm, walking me down the trail, even totally supporting me on the way down the steep stuff, as well as offering his shirt to sop up my blood (I think I owe him a new shirt, as I'm sure he doesn't want this one back). More importantly, he listened to me whine and moan the whole way down. Andy and the driver of the truck were just as great, making me laugh on the way back to my car--and I got a rubber chicken! You guys are all wonderful!"

Sundown Sprint finish Rachel will not be racing the 2nd race of the series, instead she will be acting as support, but she'll be back racing at the third event. Rachel will be awarded the Oakley "no pain no gain - blood and guts award" (a pair of Oakley sunglasses) at the second event of the series on June 30th.

Once all the participants got past the Warrior's Trail for the most part the worst is over. They quickly did the back short climbing loop (the easiest climb in the event) and headed down the canyon and back up for the last hard climb to the ridge. Once at the top of the ridge separating Baker and Hall Canyon's they did their last downhill to the finish line at the staging area in Hall Canyon.

The times of the top finishers in the Open Geared Class were pretty amazing (4.18 miles with 1,125 feet of elevation gain - a total of 2.085 miles of climbing distance). Manual Prado had the fastest time finishing at 25:15. Damon Roberson had the second fastest time at 26:42 and George Munoz had the third fastest time at 27:48.

The top three finishers in the Open Singlespeed class were also pretty damn fast. Josh Jacquot finished first at 28:21 (Josh had the 4th fastest time overall), Mark Scheetz finished second at 30:01 and Keith Eckstein finished third at 30:59.

Camron Mary Huth was the only female finisher due to Rachel's crash on the Warrior's Trail and as expected she was pretty fast finishing in 37:20. Our youngest competitor, 11-year old Camron Panttaja, finished at 57:09.

The top three finishers in each class were awarded coup feathers painted with red dots to signify their finishing place. First place had 1 red dot on their feather, second place 2 red dots, and third place 3 red dots. These feathers are intended to be worn at the next event of the series.

You'll know who the top finishers are by the end of the series; they're the ones racing with all the coup feathers tied to their bikes or camelbacks. The top finisher in each class was also awarded the "rubber chicken" award by Andy Lightle as a reminder that although this was a race, always remember to keep it fun.

At the end of the series the participants with the top 3 fastest times will be awarded the following prizes:

Fastest time - Shimano components
2nd Fastest time - Manitou Shock
3rd Fastest time - Oakley sunglasses

We will also be recognizing the fastest female, fastest singlespeeder and youngest racer.

Larry "Lare-Dog" Branham, the designer of the course and the leader of the Warrior's Society "Dog Soldiers" will be awarding beaded gold, silver and bronze Coup Feathers to the top 3 series finishers in each class.

In addition, the top 3 finishers in each Open Class will receive free 2006 Vision Quest event comps and the top 3 finishers in each Novice Class will receive free 2006 Counting Coup event comps.

Kids race If you participate in 2 of the events in the series you will receive a pair of Warrior's Society bike socks.

We are trying to develop a world class cross-country mountain bike, cycle cross and trail running facility at the Flying B Adventure Park. All proceeds from the events held at the park go to developing the park and to provide low cost family oriented events to the public.

We hope to develop more singe track trails in 2005 so the in 2006 we can have a full schedule of spring and fall cross-country, 6-hour, 12-hour, 24-hour and sprint events. At the end of the season we'd crown a male and female Orange County Mountain Bike Champion with cash prizes based on points earned at all the events. If we get the single track built over the summer we hope to host a fall 6-hour and cross country series.

Just think, with your support we can make this happen right in your back yard. No more 2-hour drives to participate in events; think of the gas money you'll save! We intend to keep the event fees affordable and keep you well fed after the events.

Information on signing up for the event follows the finishing times below. Many thanks to all our volunteers:

Mark Cluttey
Bob McCarter
Tony Beneventi
Gregg Howard
Brenda Miller
Barry Wood
Andy Lightle
Matthew Forrest
Sheryl Condon
Jady Enomoto AKA "Tink"
Tammy "Girlfriend" Martin
Jesse Vargas
Calvin "Superman" Mulder

And special thanks to Art Zippel "The official DJ of the Warrior's Society" for providing the music and entertainment.

We also thank Amy Ferguson (the Manager of the Flying B), Mark Ferguson (Amy's husband and the trails manager of the Flying B), and Diane Dulac (the Flying B Marketing Manager) for all the hard work they put into making this event happen, including the delicious pasta dinner enjoyed by the participants.

Below are the finishing times followed by information on how to sign up for remaining two Shimano Sundown Sprint Series events. To view the participants finishing times (in chronological order and by gender) as well as a course map (click to enlarge) see the Geoladders web site.

The Course:

4.18 miles
1,125 feet of elevation gain (a total of 2.085 miles of climbing distance)

Novice 18 and under:

1. Kyle Schwarz - 34:30 (single speed) 18 years old
2. Matthew Nourmohamadian - 41:53 - 15 years old
3. Camron Panttaja - 57:09 - 11 years old

Novice 19 to 35:

1. Joe Crouch - 31:28
2. Stuart Ames - 32:32
3. Bradley Flowers - 37:18
4. Matt Allaire - 37:56
5. Charlie Marinko - 38:57
6. Ardy Azadgan - 39:32

Novice 36 to 50

1. Steve Ellis - 36:49
2. Treve Misemer - 37:36

Open 18 to 35:

1. Manual Prado - 25:15
2. Damon Roberson - 26:42
3. George Munoz - 27:48
4. Michael Morrel - 32:07
5. Olin Burrows - 35:45

Open 36 to 50 (male/female):

1. Pablo Garcia - 29:21
2. Robert Walker - 33:32
3. Mary Huth - 37:20

Single Speed Open:

1. Josh Jacquot - 28:21
2. Mark Scheetz - 30:01
3. Keith Eckstein - 30:59
4. Jeff Parish - 31:01
5. Eric Akiyoshi - 34:07

To enter the remaining two Shimano Sundown Sprint events:

The cost of each event is $25.00 and includes food and drink after the event. If you enter at least two of the events of the series you will receive a pair of Warrior's Society bike socks.

We will have same day registration open from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The course will also be open to pre-ride from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. the day of the event. Only those registered to race will be allowed on the course.

To register for the June 30th series event on Active.com click here

To register for the series final on July 14th on Active.com click here

To print out an application clck here.

Novice 18 and under Open 18 to 35 Open 36 to 50 Open single speed

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