Families pedal to podium finishes
Competitive cycling novice Patrick Hamel, Company A, 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, surges across the finish line for first place in the men's open division just one second ahead of women's open division winner, Staci Gash. Hamel finished fourth overall in his first competitive race at the Camp Casey 30-Kilometer Bike Race April 2.

CAMP CASEY, South Korea - Athletic seasons come and go but the one constant in Warrior Country cycling and triathlon events is the rivalry between Warrior Country's Gash and Camp Humphreys' Stahl families for top honors.

Richard Gash in the men's senior division and Staci, his spouse in the women's open division, beat Nathan and Sarah Stahl to the finish line in their respective divisions of the Camp Casey 30-Kilometer Bike Race here April 2.

Richard finished in a race best 49 minutes and 46 seconds - slightly more than two minutes ahead of Nathan, who has been a strong competitor for the top prize in a series of Warrior Country and 8th Army cycling and triathlon events the past few years at Camp Casey.

The 30-kilometer, or 18 mile course, ran two laps from Hanson Field House past the Carey Fitness Center to the Camp Hovey Fitness Center and to Camp Casey's Gate 2 and then another one-half lap without returning to the gate before finishing at Hanson Field House.

Riders completed the course under overcast skies and brisk 40 degree temperatures.

Despite the cool, early morning conditions, some of the riders were already in mid-season form and duels for podium finishes went down to the wire as riders gave it their best effort.

"This is really a short race in terms of bike races so you're pounding as hard as you can for the whole 18 miles and it feels like it's an aerobic sprint the whole way," Gash said.

"When you get done you know you worked hard when your lungs are just burning. And when it's a race this short, there is no time to rest. You don't ever get to stop peddling or rest. It's just pounding for the full 18 miles."

It clearly worked for Staci, who finished in 53 minutes and 12 seconds - less than three and half minutes behind Richard and slightly more than 7 minutes ahead of second place women's finisher Sarah Stahl representing Headquarters Support Company, 602nd Aviation Support Battalion.

It was also good enough to be involved in a sprint to the finish line with men's open winner Patrick Hamel, Company A, 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor. She finished one second behind him.

Richard Gash, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, Camp Hovey, said he rode a lot through the winter and was able to ride outside in the last month to prepare for the race. He was impressed with the 31 riders who participated.

"I think this is the strongest field that we've had for a bike race," the Bay Village, Ohio native said. "When you have so many good riders it puts some strategy into the race because you can draft off each other and sort of work together. It becomes not just about riding fast, but you also have to ride a smart race."

Staci, a mother of four and an outstanding cyclist and triathlete in her own right, sought Richard's advice prior to the race.

"I asked (him), 'how should I go out for this race. Should I go out as fast as I can'' He said faster, so I went out as fast as I could, tried to break away and then hold it," she said.

Hamel said his only previous experience in an event was in the annual Air Force Cycling Classic - aka the Metric Century or 100-kilometer race, in Crystal City, Va. in early 2009. He spent most of October through November in the field and didn't have time to train for the race.

"I just came out to have fun," the 30-year-old Nashville, Tenn. native said. "I didn't know how I would do so I figured whoever goes out in the front, I'd try to stay with them."

Other podium finishers were Jose Gomez, 4th Battalion, 2nd Attack Aviation Regiment, Camp Humphreys, men's senior division, third place, 52:53; Andrew Welch, Co. A, 1-72nd Armor, Camp Casey, men's open division, second place, 55:35; Nick Shamrell, Company A, 2nd Assault Battalion, 2nd Aviation Combat Brigade, K-16 Air Base, men's open division, third place, 55:56; and Lauren Renz, HHC, 70th Brigade Support Battalion, women's open division, third place, 1:10.36.

Page last updated Thu April 14th, 2011 at 21:23