SHOW LOW, ARIZ. - Arizona’s longest standing mountain bike race put another notch on the post this weekend, and over 600 people showed up to take part in the festivities.
The Tour of the White Mountains is the third and final event this year put on by Epic Rides, which is notorious for its 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo and Whiskey Off-Road mountain bike races. Of the three, the Tour is the least developed and most grassroots.
“We’ve intentionally kept it the way it is because it has a lot of character,” race organizer Todd Sadow said.
Character might be one way to describe it; another might be pain and suffering.
“It’s a very technical ride. You can’t fake this race,” Steve Sanchez of Flagstaff, Ariz. said.
“It’s like riding a jackhammer down the trail,” Jon Oleson of Tucson, Ariz. said. “And it’s not just one rocky section, it’s the last 15-20 miles.”
Not that a technical course had anyone complaining.
“I loved the course, it’s got a lot of character to keep you awake,” Laura Meyer of Tucson, Ariz. said. Meyer, who placed second in the 35-mile Women’s Master’s category, estimated this to be her ninth time racing in the event.
While the 60 and 35-mile riders had their work cut out for them, other course offerings included a 15 and 10-mile fun ride, providing an experience for all levels of riders.
Like other Epic Rides events, the race not only brings together a whole community to put on a great mountain bike race, but to also positively benefit that community. As in years past, this year’s beneficiary was the Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center Food Bank.
“It’s critical to have the community on board,” Sadow said.
Fastest overall lap of the day on the 60-mile course was laid down by Eric Salstrand of Phoenix, Ariz. at 04:27:57.
The Men’s Masters category saw Jim Gibson of Flagstaff, Ariz. hammer down a time of 04:59:04 to beat the previous course record by about eight minutes.
Riding in the Junior Male division, Tyler Sandoval of Flagstaff, Ariz. rode for a time of 05:27:44 to best the previous record by about seven minutes.
“It was more just trying to figure out how to pace myself in the beginning,” Sandoval said. “My coach advised me to stay above my threshold, but that didn’t happen.”
Mike Melley of Chandler, Ariz. had the best Singlespeed category time at 04:46:39.
“In a word if I had to describe this race: donkey punch. It’s a really tough course,” he said.
The fastest lady of the day on two wheels was Windy Marks riding in the Female Open 60-mile category. She had a time of 05:52:52.
“I was just relaxed and had fun,” she said.
Unfortunately no Junior Females entered the race, but Laurel Arndt made up for it in the Women’s Masters category when she slapped down a time of 06:50:06, beating her previous time by 13 minutes.
Also putting out an impressive time was Gianna Bianchi of Scottsdale, Ariz. in the Female Singlespeed category. Her time of 07:04:12 beat the previous course record by 32 minutes.
At the end of the day, scattered showers broke out in pink curtains of rain from ominous clouds hanging overhead and a magnificent sunset made it look like a wildfire was on the horizon. Racers sat around fires to ward off the autumn chill that had settled in. Music blared from RV’s, and in the cacophony that followed, a new sound emerged.
Race promoter Todd Sadow put it all in perspective.
“When everyone leaves here, they’re going to be floating on a cloud for the next two weeks,” he said.
For the full results go to 2010 Results.
To see view and purchase images from the race see Brian Leddy Photography Archive.