Gash rides away with mountain bike title
August 11, 2010
CASEY GARRISON, South Korea - It didn't involve the jostling of NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch rivalry. But the renewed competition between top-notch athletes - Warrior Country's Richard Gash and Humphrey Garrison's Nathan Stahl in the Warrior Country 10-km Mountain Bike Invitational Challenge Aug. 7 - didn't lack any of the intensity.
Gash, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion at Camp Hovey, beat his competitor from Headquarters and Services Company, 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, to the finish line by 57 seconds.
It was a second time for Gash, who three weeks earlier beat Stahl by only 19 seconds for first place in the men's senior division of the 8th Army Triathlon. While they have a habit of competing for first place, Gash was more focused on how the weather affected the course.
"The rain did make it more challenging, especially since you couldn't go as fast down the hills. You had to be careful and also up hills, it made it more challenging with the loose rocks and the dirt made the tires spin," said the 36-year-old, Bay Village, Ohio native.
The 10-km course took the riders from the Carey Physical Fitness Center past the Warrior's Club and back to Schoonover Bowl where they began the off-road ride through the land navigation course that included several hills.
"It was hard not having any spatial indication how long the hills were," said Jason Alvis, Army Special Operations Forces Liaison Element-Korea at Camp Coiner, who finished third in the men's senior division. "I was trying to keep up with the first place guy and couldn't do it."
The first large incline forced all participants - regardless of skill level - to walk at least part of the way to the summit before riding downhill to exit Papa Gate and ride to the Camp Hovey theater and gym. The riders then entered trail gate three and followed it through trail gate one before proceeding to building 27 and back to the finish line at Carey gym.
For the third time in four weeks, the weather played a prominent role in a sports event here. Beginning the previous evening and throughout race day, Dongducheon was pelted with 4 inches of rain, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration. While the temperate was a modest 77 degrees the riders endured 92 percent humidity.
"It was my first time trying [a mountain bike event] and it was kind of hard to get used to the wet conditions," said Zach Brainard, the 29-year-old Boston native from the 4th Chemical Company at Camp Hovey, who finished first in the men's open division (29 years and under) in 33:30.
Sarah Stahl from HCS, 602nd Avn. Bn., who along with her husband, Nathan, has participated in several recent endurance events here. While the 29-year-old, Merrill, Neb. native's only similar experience was from two Xterra triathlons in Ruston, La., and the weather posed a challenge, her focus was elsewhere.
"I wanted to beat [Pak Sin-ae]," she said. "She had me on the [off-road] but I caught her on the road."
During his pre-race safety brief Randy Behr, Warrior Country sports director, repeatedly urged the participants to put safety before competition. But these were thrill-seeking participants, who accept the risks of bumps and bruises - rain or shine - as part of the competition and they enjoyed the course.
"The course was interesting enough," said Bob Maurio from the Defense Distribution Depot-Korea at Camp Carroll, who finished first in the men's master division (40 years and over) in 30:18. "It would have been nice if there were just a little bit more trail, but it was a pretty good mix of trail and road. It was just the right level of difficulty for a bunch of people who probably hadn't ridden much trail."