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The 2012 Mountain Bike Pow Wow

Story by Chris Vargas and Sherry Panttaja
Photos by John Early, Gene Frial, Jenz Raz, and Sherry Panttaja
Web Editor Barry Wood

Another Pow Wow done over!

What a wonderful morning for a Pow Wow to begin. As I stood there looking out at the hundreds of riders, with the full moon above them, I knew this would be a moment that I would cherish forever. Knowing that these riders would be starting soon on a venture of a lifetime I could only think about the fact that many wouldn't make the cut off times even though they had trained for a year. I thought of how many of the riders would experience a level of pain they had never pushed through to make it to the finish line so many miles away. As the Event Director I am always busy worrying about making sure the event is perfect for the participants and that we make sure all the participants get to the finish line safely. But this day was different, this Pow Wow I was more aware of the pain and suffering of the participants and what they were enduring on the mountain. I was thinking about how many hours they had all trained and the dedication they had all made to attempting to complete either the Vision Quest or the Counting Coup. Whether it was their first time or tenth time doing the event they were all enduring both a physical and mental game out there in the Forest. Having attempted the VQ years ago I know that it takes unbelievable strength of both body and soul to make it to the finish line.

Whether the riders take 5 hours or 11 hours to complete the event they all deserve the same recognition and admiration. Whether they are a pro rider or weekend warrior everyone is striving for the finish line and the coveted finishing Feather. With every feather we had out to the finishers I know how important that feather is in their life. I was reminded time and time again of the hours of riding these participants had put in to make it to the finish line. The weekends away from family, the night rides after a full day's work, cold morning rides before work had all been done in preparation for the day on the mountain to walk away with a feather showing they were not just an average rider. They were a finisher of the Vision Quest or Counting Coup.

This year there were more families then ever waiting at the finish line for their loved one. I was reminded of how many of these families had changed their weekend plans so daddy could get his training rides in. How many children were waiting for mommy to come home from her training ride so they could do homework together. How many spouses and other loved ones are affected by the Vision Quest and Counting Coup. Not only are the participants in the event deserving of the Feather but also their loved ones who have supported them so they were able to do our event.

2012 Bob Haislett Award

Thank you to all the families, friends and participants who make our Pow Wow event a part of their lives!

2012 Last Survivor Award

There were many amazing stories on the mountain that day but we only have two awards to give. i know there were more riders then ever who are cancer survivors and those who have overcome hardships most people never endure... I only wish we could have the time to equally acknowledge each and everyone of our participants stories.

The Bob Haislett Award was given to Cheryl Parrish after finishing the Counting Coup. She has overcome cancer two times in her life and now she has conquered the Counting Coup. She should be an inspiration to everyone that you don't need to give up on your dreams....she obviously hasn't...she is off to the Sea Otter Classic next week to race.

The "Last Survivor Award" was given to Doug Dietel and Maureen Wolfson after they finished the Vision Quest. They finished together as husband and wife and will have this experience to share together the rest of their lives. When we gave them the award we were unaware that Maureen was also a cancer survivor and had just finished her chemotherapy last year when she did the Counting Coup. Here are her words:

"I want to thank all of the volunteers who waited til the final riders made it through and were even happy to see us. Even though my husband and I earned the Last Survivor's award, you didn't make us feel like losers because we were last. I have done a number of rides where if you don't come in with the pack, the volunteers close up shop, but you guys were out there, having fun, being friendly and I just can't say how much I appreciated that. Thanks to the sweep for helping to fix my hubby's flat coming down Trabuco too!

Last year, my hubby and I did the CC and I figured, all I needed to do was cut 30 minutes off of last year, then I'd be able to make the VQ cut off. Last year I was coming back from chemo, surgery, chemo, radiation and one more surgery so I thought I'd be stronger this year. Well, I cut off about 45 minutes from last year but it was way harder than I thought it would be. I have been training for the last 4-5 months and unfortunately, none of my training times supported me making the HJ cut-off (which i made by 12 min). Thank goodness to Race Day adrenaline. I have a really bad back, but for some reason, my back wasn't bugging me (yes, I did take 5 advil but back pain can overcome advil). Like others, I was also nauseous for about 3 hours of the ride. When I first moved here, I thought I could NEVER do either CC or VQ. It was crazy talk. Anyway, part of me can't believe I made the cutoff and I'm really proud to have finished the VQ.

Thanks to everyone who encouraged me!"

We lucked out this year with great course conditions compared to last two years when we suffered severe damage due to the rains. Although the temps were warm, all the riders pushed themselves to finish. We have always said, whether you finish or not the fact that you had the courage to train and attempt the event(s) separates you above those that do not even try. As our tag line on our emails state:

"Far better it is to dare mighty dreams, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take the ranks with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat!"

The Warrior's Society