US ARMY GARRISON YONGSAN--Casual and experienced riders joined together on an early morning over the Memorial Day weekend, strapped on their helmets and took part in a special bike tour into a relatively unseen part of Korea.
Cyclists from Yongsan, Camp Humphreys, Osan Airbase, K16 Airbase and Camp Casey took part in the annual Tour De DMZ bike ride May 27.
More than a 100 riders from the military communities came together, the youngest being Sophia Ruiz, 8 years old, and joined more than a 1,000 riders from across the country to ride from the Yeoncheon Stadium, Yeoncheon, Korea, to the Demilitarized Zone.
One of the primary organizers, Richard M. Scott, Director of Transformation and Base Closure at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, coordinated many of the riders and made sure that everyone was at the pick up site early in the morning to begin the journey north.
For Scott, who already has a busy schedule preparing USAG Yongsan the move to Camp Humphreys later this year, this was a very important task to organize for him.
"I took this challenge on because I was asked, and because I love to ride," said Scott. "Having the opportunity to ride up in a controlled area near the DMZ, where a lot of fighting occurred during the Korean War, was quite poignant."
The event was festive with singers, cheers and fireworks to send the riders out of the stadium and on their way. The sound of the bands and fans quickly faded, and the riders were left with only the sound of their gears and chains rattling and the motivational encouragement from their fellow riders.
Scott completed the almost 40 mile bike trip riding a small folding bike and shared the day with his wife and three boys enjoying the day as a family.
"We are very active people in this family," Scott said. "We have already put in about 3,000 miles in the last year and a half. It is great to see and do things together as a family and do things that people don't normally get to experience."
For some of the riders this was their first opportunity to take part in the Tour De DMZ and had nothing but a positive experience from the ride.
"My husband went last year and he really enjoyed it, so I wanted to do it this year. It sounded like fun, and I liked the idea of the challenge, "said Kim Ha-kyung, management support assistant at Directorate of Human Resources. "It was not as difficult and actually turned out to be quite an enjoyable ride."
Cycling through the northern province proved to be an opportunity for some of the riders to see history and a different lifestyle of Korea that would normally be missed when riding in a car.
"For us this was a slow ride, a nice touring the country side kind of ride, to enjoy where we are," said Scott. "We saw the old North Korean Labor Party building. It was great."
The ride had its share of tough hills and heat that was a struggle for some riders. But for anyone who might be thinking about doing the ride next year, the overwhelming opinion is simple, do it.
"I would tell anyone to definitely do this ride," said Kim. "You will be part of a group and everyone is going to be very encouraging. Especially if this is your first time."