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The Shimano Sundown Sprint Series Final - The heat is on!

Story by Chris Vargas
Photos Patrick Van Der Westhuizen, Barry Wood and Chris Vargas
Web Editor Barry Wood

Down the first downhill The heat was on for the participants of the Shimano Sundown Sprint Series Final event in more ways than one. With temps in the mid 90's and high humidity the racing action was indeed "hot."

The 95 degree temperature did not stop the competitive spirit of the participants who more than matched the high temps with high heart rates as they took to the course. With little time to waste, and no margin for mistakes due to the nature of the event, it was full on from the start with no relief until that finish line is crossed over 4 miles and many steep climbs later.

This was especially true for the Open 19 to 36 Class. From the start the top four fastest riders, Manuel Prado, Shaun Donovan, George Munoz and Dana Weber were pretty much neck to neck. Down the last downhill At the hike-a-bike Shaun managed to take a small lead but he had the other three top leaders breathing down his neck painfully trying to keep that lead from growing.

Manuel realized he had lost his water bottle when he reached the top of the hike-a-bike but had no time to worry about it; he needed to focus on catching up and passing Shaun on the climb up Another victim of the Warriors' Trail to the Warrior's Trail, which he managed to do. At this point it was Manual leading with Shaun, George and Dana in hot pursuit as they descended the Warrior's Trail.

As those of you familiar with the Warrior's Trail know it is steep, tight, technical, unforgiving of mistakes and nearly impossible to pass on, which Dana soon found out when he was unable to scrub off speed as he followed George down. With a thump Dana ran into the back of George's bike, taking them both out for a few seconds.

They soon remounted and were on their way but Dana's forward movement was cut short when he realized the collision had left him with a flat. Although after the crash George still managed to stay in third, Manual and Shaun were long gone on their way to a first and second place finishes. They all commented after the race that it was an intense event, especially with the climbing beginning almost immediately after the start, and suggested that next year we have the Open Class do two laps instead of one.

The top finishers weren't the only ones having trouble on the Warrior's Trail; it claimed another victim - but luckily the victim's back acted as a brake and broke his fall stopping him from having more severe injuries. It seems the Warrior's Trail wants at least one participant to Art "the Madman" Zippel pay a price in blood for each race.

Our youngest participants in the Novice 14 and Under Class, Camron Panttaja, Loren Wood and Erika Huth, did a great job in the heat. As I mentioned in my write-up on the second event of the series the 14 and under class (much to Camron's disappointment) did not ride the Warrior's Trail - but took a by-pass to the bottom of it. Camron already had two first place finishes at the 1st and 2nd event of the series and this event was no different. Camron was off and untouchable as he went on to another 1st place finish; the race for 2nd overall in was still to be decided.

Loren had placed 2nd and Erika 3rd at the second race of the series and this final race would determine their overall placing in the series. Loren and Erika started off together but Erika Camron, Mark and Adam are initiated pulled ahead. Erika had spent the past week riding and getting use to her new bike (her mother Mary's hand me down GT LTS) and it showed. Loren attempted to keep up but Erika, now comfortable on her bike, did not allow the opportunity and finished in second place. This series was the first race Erika and Loren ever participated in and they both did a great job.

Loren has been riding with our Young Braves program and it's great to see how she's advanced in her riding ability. Loren's becoming a very competent climber and her dad Barry, our Communications Director, may soon be retiring the tow rope he uses to pull her up on the steep climbs we encounter on our Young Braves rides.

Once across the finish lines it was time for the participants to party! With great music from DJ Art Zippel, a chicken primavera pasta dinner, salad, soda, beer and ice cream floats or sundaes waiting for you - the heat and high heart rates were soon forgotten. Before the awards ceremony Thanks to Mike Bonner and Dakine it was time for the prize raffle. Many thanks to all our sponsors; but thanks especially to Mike Bonner of Dakine and Ian Gross of Kona Bikes for providing additional product to raffle off.

After the raffle we had a Warrior's Society Club ceremony to initiate new members and to recognize their achievements. Mark Cluttey, Adam Maywhort and Camron Panttaja were initiated into the club and awarded their club coup feathers. We also nominated Mary Huth, Gerry Huth and Sheryl Condon for membership in the Warrior's Society. Camron with the walking staff Camron was also recognized for his first "Vision Quest" ride, which happened to be at the Toad Festival this year...

For those of you that read our Weekly News, you are familiar with Camron's experience at this year's Toad Festival. He was the youngest participant (11 years old) in this 27.5 mile with 5,000 feet of total elevation gain "fun" ride that ended up taking place on a 90 plus degree day. Camron, with the encouragement of his parents and their friends who accompanied him at the Toad Festival, rose to the challenge and overcame the heat, pain and any doubts to finish the ride. For this he was awarded a 2005 Vision Quest finisher's Coup Feather.

Larry is presented with the D of Soldier staff The Warrior's Society also presented Camron with a walking staff with Hopi designs burnt into it, which was originally given to Chris by Jarron Lucas, a good friend of the Hopi Tribe. Chris stated the Walking Staff would be a reminder of what Vision Quests Camron can accomplish if he believes in himself. I expect Camron, with the encouragement of his parents, will accomplish many Vision Quests.

Larry Braham was also awarded staff to designate him as the leader of the Warrior's Society Dog Soldiers, the clubs most accomplished riders. Larry set out the course used in the series, including the hike-a-bike, which he felt would give participants a taste of what the Dog Soldiers encounter in the back-country trails of the Cleveland National Forest.

Sherry Panttaja, who along with her husband owns Switchback Cyclery, surprised me (Chris Vargas) during the awards ceremony with three gifts. The first was a basket made out of tree bark, the second was tobacco to use in our ceremonies (both of these were provided by Sherry's father a Switchback Cyclery presents thier gift collector of Native American art) and a check for $1,000 as seed money for another event at the Flying B Adventure Park. I must admit I choked up as I received these gifts from two of our club's biggest supporters. Sherry has been a tremendous encouragement to me as I planned this series. Her support and insight was a welcome respite during the stress of making this series happen. With this gift of $1,000 from Switchback Cyclery we are hoping to have a cross-country event or series in the fall at the Flying B if we can complete a new singe track trail we have planned.

After Switchback's surprise gifts it was time for the awards ceremony to recognize the event winners and series champions. The standout of the event was Manuel Prado who not only finished in 1st place at all three events in the Open 19 to 35 Class, but also had the fastest finishing Pablo show us his rubber chicken time (24:33) winning a component set from Shimano. The second fastest time was done by Dana Weber (24:34) who one a Manitou Shock. George Munoz had the third fastest time (26:17) and won a pair of Oakley sunglasses. Many thanks to Shimano, Manitou and Oakley for provided prizes for the 3 fastest times of the series.

All the series champs received gold, silver or bronze beaded coup feathers. Andy Lightle, the Director of the National Mountain Bike Table Tennis Association (NMBTTA), awarded coveted "rubber chicken" awards to the 1st place finisher during the series.

The only female competitor Mary Huth During the ceremonies Mary Huth, who came in 2nd overall in the series in the 36 to 50 Open Class, was awarded a gold feather for being the only female to compete in the whole series. Mary's daughter Erika also finished 2nd overall in the series in the Novice 14 and under class. Mary is an accomplished rider who joins members of the Warrior's Society Dog Soldiers on their rides.

Many thanks to Dan Dulac, Diane Dulac, Allen Dean, Amy Ferguson and Mark Ferguson, the owners/managers of the Flying B Adventure Park, for all their help and for cooking our great dinner. Thanks also all our sponsors, especially, Shimano, Manitou, Oakley, Clif Bar and Cytomax for providing the great prizes and product given away at the event and to Switchback Cyclery for providing $1,000 in seed money for the "Switchback Cyclery Fall Classic" event at the Flying B.

And last but definitely not least many thanks to all our volunteers who helped make this first Sundown Sprint Series a success!

To see the results of the final (we'll have the information on the Series Class winners in next week's news) see the Geoladders web site.

14 and under
15 to 18 novice
36 to 50 novice
36 to 50 open
Open singlespeed
Fastest times

Series Champions

Novice 14 years and under:

Camron Panttaja
Erika Huth
Loren Wood

Novice 18 to 15

Kyle Swartz
Trung Nguyen
Matt Nourmahadian

Novice 19 to 35

Joe Crouch
Stuart Ames
Charlie Marinko

Novice 36 to 50

Steve Ellis
Rick Grebner
Tom Jones

Open 19 to 35

Manuel Prado
George Munoz
Dana Weber

Open 36 to 50

Pablo Garcia
Mary Huth
Donald Jackson

Single Speed Open

Josh Jacquot
Mark Scheetz
Keith Eckstein

Series #3 Race Winners

Novice 14 years and under:

Camron Panttaja - 11 - 45:25
Erika Huth - 12 - 52:29
Loren Wood - 11- 52:29

Novice 15 to 18

Andrew Schaff - 16 - 33:42
Trung Nguyen - 18 - 36:41
Matt Kipper - 18 - 36:53
Gil Santiago - 17 - 43:37
Matt Nourmohammadian - 44:14

Novice 19 to 35

Joe Crouch - 30 - 30:59
Stuart Ames - 33 - 35:57

Novice 36 to 50

Kent Walker - 38 - 35:31
Peter Hemphill - 39 - 36:17
Rick Grebner - 42 - 36:35
Steve Ellis - 48 - 36:52
Tom Jones - 40 - 37:23

Open 19 to 35

Manuel Prado - 24 - 25:18
Sean Donavan - 27 - 25:29
George Munoz - 22 - 27:15
Dana Weber - 24 - 30:56
Noah Holcomb - 22 - 33:20
Jeff Parish - 31 - 33:36

Open 36-50 years

Pablo Garcia - 36 - 32:09
Doug Andrews - 44 - 33:04
Paul Vujovich - 43 - 33:26
Don Jackson - 48 - 34:31
Mary Huth - 43 - 40:11

Single Speed Open

Brad Stephan - 40 - 27:36
Josh Jacquot - 31 - 28:36
Mike Monticello - 36 - 28:36
Barrett Brauer - 36 - 29:24
Drew Lazenby - 28 - 32:42
Eric Akiyoshi - 34 - 33:50
Mark Scheetz - 43 - 33:53
Keith Eckstein - 47 - 34:17

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