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The 2008 Toad Festival

Story by Chris Vargas
Photos by John Early and Bill Hines
Web Editor Barry Wood

What a relief!

Unlike our last event, "The Traverse," the Toad Festival participants did not have to deal with temps in the low 100's. The day was beautiful with temps on the Main Divide in the high 70's to low 80's.

And for the first time in nine years, the Toad Festival sold out!

Although this is considered a fun event, the course is not a walk in the park. Holy Jim has something like 3200+ feet of climbing and the average grade is 7 percent. The steepest climb on the Main Divide is 17 percent and 15.5 for something like 1/2 mile. The total distance is 27 +- miles with around 5,000 feet of climbing.

But if you made it to West Horse Thief you were treated to root beer floats!

Kids, parents and new riders had a great time on the 10 mile course as well! The 10-mile course took participants on a beautiful ride through the O'Neill Park Open Space.

The majority of the participants negotiated the course without problems but we did have one participant, Matt Tawney, go down on the Main Divide between West Horse Thief and Trabuco. His crash resulted in a destroyed helmet, slight concussion and scratches and bruises. Other participants assisted him until he was driven to the check point at Trabuco, including participant Jose Valez who "ghost rode" Matt's bike to the check point. Safety Officer Lare-Dog did an initial analysis of Matt's injuries and transported him back to the staging area. Luckily, after later being checked out at the hospital, Matt was diagnosed with a slight concussion and emailed me the next day to let me know he'd be back on the bike (after purchasing a new helmet).

We are all grateful that Matt was not more seriously injured. We awarded Matt a pair of XT pedals for the "best crash." I told Matt in my email to him after the event that I hope he enjoys the pedals he was awarded for "the best crash" but that in the future when he participates in our events I hope the prizes he wins will be because of the scores on his game card, not the bruises on his body - and he'll at least need to have something amputated to win the "best crash" award again. (-;

I was also emailed after the event by a motorcyclist who went down and wanted to thank the mountain biker (Scott Siino) who helped him and checked to see if he was OK. Scott also rode ahead to get help for Matt when he went down. We have a great community of mountain bikers!

We are very grateful to our 2008 major sponsors Shimano, Rock N Road, Sho-Air, Clif Bar, Switchback Cyclery, and "The Other Room." The lunch provided by Major Sponsro El Pollo Loco saved us around $1,500, which also means more money for TACA. For a complete list of our minor and contributing sponsors check out the sponsors page on our web site.

We appreciate the checkpoint/course marshal support volunteers and our communication teams for their help with the Toad Festival. We also appreciate the support of the SOARA Ham club for the use of their repeater

Barry Wood, our Graphics Director and Web Master came through with another great t-shirt design (he never ceases to amaze us with his t-shirt designs and web design skills).

The staff at O'Neill Park is the best and they have been a big help with our 2008 events, including the Toad Festival (they even participated by buying raffle tickets).

After event expenditures, will expect we will have raised between $4,000 to $6,000 for Talk About Curing Autism Now (TACA).

And no funds would have been raised without the support of the mountain bike community that participated in the event.

Next year the Toad Festival will be a fundraiser for the Marine Corp Wounded Warrior program at Camp Pendleton which aides our soldiers wounded in action.

Registration for our 2009 events opens on these months this fall (we expect all our 2009 events to sell out):

2009 Vision Quest and Counting Coup (Saturday, March 7th) - Registration begins October 1st

2009 "The Traverse" to benefit the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund (Saturday, May 9th) - Registration begins November 1st

2009 Toad Festival to benefit the Wounded Warrior program at Camp Pendleton (Saturday, June 6th) - Registration begins December 1st

Winners at the raffle to raise money for TACA were:

Thanks again for your support and contributions to a great cause!

Chris Vargas and Sherry Panttaja
AKA "Dances With Hornets" and "Stands Her Ground"
Executive Directors of the Warrior's Society