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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Novice 14 years and under:
Novice 18 to 15
Novice 19 to 35
Novice 36 to 50
Open 19 to 35
Open 36 to 50
Single Speed Open
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