I just finished reading Irma Sandercock’s "Decade in Review" in the White Mountain newsletter, and it was great. It is always great to look back and remember where one has been. Time goes by so fast …My purpose in writing this is to maybe "fill in some gaps" in a little White Mountain history. I thought it would be interesting for some to see what events led into the 90’s history, in particular the Valley of the Sun Stage Race and Gregg Duckett’s Toyota sponsorship. First the Toyota story … I met Gregg on the M.S. "Breakaway to the Border" in 1986. I was on a small team called Silver Spoke Cycling Team, which had about 20 riders. With a little persuasion Gregg and his 1st generation Bell helmet (the original) joined us. He mentioned he worked for Scott Toyota and that he might be able to get some money from them for the team, since we had no sponsorship. After intense negotiations he was able to get $500. From my perspective at that time, it might, as well been $500,000! This meant we would have a real sponsor on our jerseys, just like the pros. The next year the amount went up a little, but the team had dwindled down to only 10 racers. This team had also been putting on the Safford RR, TT, and Mt. Graham hill climb (3 races back then). At the end of 1989 we decided to "merge" with another team.
Which leads to the stage race beginnings Because most of us lived in the East Valley, and White Mountain Road Club had a nice group of "old" guys (just kidding), plus they also used to have this huge (up to 30 riders !) Sunday training ride, what was left of Silver Spoke decided to join. There was one catch though … Silver Spoke had already committed to do the Safford races on the next year race calendar. We explained our dilemma to then President Rod Pitts, and he agreed that WMRC could do the races (They were already doing Wupatki and Misery Loves Co. TT), as long as one of us would be the race director. So the 5 of us including US National Jr. TT champion Casey Fabig (The Casey of what is now "Casey’s Classics Bike Shop") and Gregg’s Scott Toyota sponsorship (minus the helmet) merged. The race director job fell on me. I think I worked harder doing the Safford races that year, than the 3 years I did the Valley of the Sun Stage Race combined. The team supported it as well as could have been expected, but the race lost about $700. Just a month earlier the team lost about $500 putting on Wupatki. So … it was decided that the next race season (1991) WMRC would do something simpler and closer to home. Something like two separate races — a criterium and maybe a time trial. Dave Bauman found a criterium course at Baseline and Mesa Drive in a soon to be developed business park. Ellen Reid and Susan Arnold suggested having a TT in Casa Grande. That year we did both. We broke about even. I served as race director for both of the races, but Dave and I felt we needed to do something more, maybe start a new tradition, and also to attract racers from out of state. A stage race seemed like the logical choice. So in 1992 the VOS race was born.
We already had the Crit site. We needed a TT and RR location. Dave found a great TT course in Lehi. A little short, but lots of turns and a short hill. We decided to locate the races in the Mesa area, so we went with the proven Usery Pass RR course, which was always the first race of the season, although we moved the finish to the uphill section. Dave did all the race organization, including the more difficult than it seems, job of primes and prizes. I handled the permits, phone calls (before Web sites!) and a WMRC first — free racer housing. The races (scored on points then) went well, and we made money finally!!
What else was happening in February 2000
- Exxon was the title sponsor of the VOS criterium
- Voler chose our jersey as "Jersey of the Month"
- Steven Ray Hudgens is convicted for up to 10 years for a DUI related case in which a pack of cyclists were injured