Ultra-Endurance Superstars Tinker Juarez and Pua Mata Shine Vision Quest
written by: Jens Raz
Vision Quest, an event organized by Warrior’s
Society and located in the beautiful Orange County Mountains proved to be a
challenge for all on Saturday. The Warrior’s Society is a group of people truly
dedicated to building, maintaining and protecting the trails of the Trabuco
District in the Cleveland National Forest. This "non race” covers over 54 miles and roughly 11,000 feet
of climbing. It draws some of the top endurance racers of the nation as well as
the "not so” average housewife and husband. It’s an event that surely measures how far one can push their
Southern California has been plagued by
numerous storms and wet conditions destroying many of the trails and roads
around the course. Warrior’s Society spent countless hours on trying to improve
trail conditions. A large portion of the course was un-ride able a month
earlier, but with immense effort Warrior’s Society delivered a challenging
Over 300 mountain bikers made the journey and
arrived for the 5:30 am start, still in the dark.
It proved to be brutal, bloody and chaotic
yet all the while very exciting. Lead changes galore gave hope to a multitude
of tough men for glory, however only one came out on top.
The early start began with Doug Andrews (Rock
N Road) and owner of Geoladders.com putting down the hammer. He was part of an elite group of 6
riders speeding up Blackstar, the first of 3 major climbs still in the dark.
Doug was joined by Tinker Juarez (Cannondale), Manny Prado (Sho-Air), Dana Weber (Trek), Nate Whitman and
Gerry Cody (both of Cynergy/Specialized). Ben Bostrom (Sho-Air)
clawed his way up to the group half-way up the climb riding a SS. He drilled it past the group with Manny
and Tinker chasing him down.
Nate Whitman and
Doug Andrew’s share their experiences; The chase group of 4 came
together on the rollers of the Main Divide road. Unfortunately, Nate, leading
the group was the first victim of the crash-riddled day, and did so hard in an
off camber turn during the early morning light. Moments later he flatted with a sidewall tear. Bloodied and torn, he continued.
The first major
descent on Motorway (three miles of fast technical singletrack) created even
more chaos. Tinker flatted and with difficulties fixing the tire gave up the
lead to Manuel Prado. Shortly thereafter Bostrom flatted on his front tire and
crashed hard effectively ending his race. Both Ben and the Cannondale racer had
to run down the steep technical descent for close to 3 miles.
Not to be outdone, the Cynergy racer, Nate Whitman with a second flat finished
the rocky downhill chase on his rear rim (a Stan’s Podium MMX). Planning ahead
saved his day though, as he kept a spare wheelset at Aid Station #1. The mayhem changed the dynamics
of the day with Manny leading up the second and longest climb, Maple Springs,
being chased by Dana, Doug, Tinker and Nate on his new wheel.
According to Mr. Andrews, the roughly 12-mile long 3700 foot long
climb takes the fast kids on the block about 1 hour 15-20 minutes! OUCH!!! Tinker passed Doug moving into 3rdat "4 Corners”. Over the top of the 6000’ Santiago Peak, the man of Geoladders fame came barreling down on Manny Prado. The Costa Rica native was not immune to flats either and descended
the loose and rocky fire road to "Upper Holy Jim” on a deflated front tire.
Doug calls it Manny’s "La Ruta
Skills” at work. (so far I think we are at 6 flats from the top 5 riders!).
Descending Holy Jim, Dana Weber, on his Trek Fuel, was able to gain
serious time and pass Tinker on his sub 20 pound hardtail. Behind, a motivated
Whitman, now in 7th position, continued chasing down Dana Weber (Trek)
currently in 1st, Tinker Juarez (Cannondale), Doug Andrews (Sho-Air), Manuel
Prado (Sho-Air), Oliver Hutchinson (Helen’s Cycles) and Tim Zanbergen
The next challenge to our top protagonists lay about 14-15 miles
from the finish called West Horse Thief. The notorious 2-mile, 2400 foot climb
can best be described as an ego breaker. The hike/push/pull and drag a bike
section is the place where ones last bit of energy and determination is needed
to survive. This determination and the ability to climb like a mountain goat gave
Tinker another shot at victory. He passed the Trek rider Weber with enough time to
secure the lead. Apparently, Dana
was not immune to the flat tire disease either, as he lost precious moments
that would eventually cost him the win.
This desperate walk
of shame for us mere riders is followed by what is one of the most fun and
exciting descents down the Trabuco Canyon.
Trabuco Canyon proved less fun for Nate, as he was cursed by the
tire gods yet again. Now in 5th, he flatted on top of the Trabuco
Canyon descent and had to finish the technical descent and remaining 11 miles to
the finish on his rear rim. This time the stock Specialized Roval SL wheel held
up. Impressive as his rim never folded under 11 miles of aggressive terrain.
Tinker kept the mechanicals and crashes at bay during the last bit
to win this beat down of a day. TJ was followed by Dana Weber and a resurgent Manuel Prado for 3rd. Doug Andrews and a
still bloody Nate Whitman riding on, fought hard and finished out the podium.
Check out www.warriorssociety.org for results and
Tinker’s blog for some more action at www.tinkerjuarez.blogspot.com/
Flat Tires: 10+
Bloody Crashes: 5+
Lead Changes: 7+
Thank you very much to Nate Whitman, Doug Andrews, Guy Sutton and
Tinker Juarez for their insight into this epic battle!
Vision Quest Results Top-10
1, Tinker Juarez (Cannondale) 5.10.42
2, Dana Weber (Trek) 5.13.32
3, Manny Prado (Sho-Air) 5.18.50
4, Doug Andrews 5.24.56
5, Nate Whitman 5.37.52
6, Oliver Hutchinson 5.41.04
7, Tim Zandbegan 5.41.20
8, Guy Sutton (Cal Coast) 5.49.48
9, Pua Mata (Sho-Air) 5.53.18
10, Jason Rusnak 5.54.12
Counting Coup Results
1. Mario Correa 3.56.56
2, Jon Flagg 4.22.15
3, Derek Nye
4, Eric Parks
5, Jon Clark
6, Paul Vajapich
7, Heidi Volpe
8, Jeffrey Lewis
9, Christopher Peck
10, Garrett Greer