By Scott Prater
In an effort to present bicycle riders with a fresh challenge, the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron and 50th Space Wing Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Randy LaCombe, combined to build a new course for Schriever’s latest Mountain Bike Relay Race, held in conjunction with the Schriever Base Picnic July 15.
Riders overwhelmingly agreed, the new course was more challenging and provided a more enjoyable competitive experience. Despite the changes, however, the 50th Force Support Squadron defended its title, blazing through the 2.5 mile course in 35 minutes, 46 seconds, more than 4 minutes ahead of 50th Space Communications Squadron.
“I think this race was a big jump in performance from the last one we rode,” said Derek Hamby, 50 FSS team captain. “Eleven teams competed, covering a wide variety of squadrons and the course provided much more of a mountain bike challenge.”
Members of the 50 CES constructed berms, table-top jumps and a feature known as “woopdeedoos,” or a series of rolling bumps. The highlight of the course was the mud bog. Riders crested a hill during the second half of the course, then coasted down a hill near the north perimeter fence and splashed through a water-filled pit. Many attempted to roll through as fast as possible, resulting in some taking a dive over their handle bars. Most preferred to proceed cautiously, which carried the stuck-in-knee-high-mud penalty. A slim few managed to roll through unscathed.
Lead-off rider, Jeff Roob, gave 50 FSS more than a one-minute lead on the rest of the field and his teammates stretched it with each successive rider.
Hamby anchored the squad and added more than a minute to the winning margin.
“We have a lot of mountain biking experience,” Hamby said. “Brandon Schirm and I used to race, Jeff is an avid cyclist and Kyle Cloppas is a real good runner, which transfers well to this type of course. But, the level of competition out here is real strong. The 50 SCS had a real strong team, led by Scott Nicholson and this race showed there are a lot of good riders here.”
The 50 SCS crossed the finish line in 39:46 followed by 50 CES in third in 41:16. LaCombe anchored 50th Space Wing Chiefs and Eagles to sixth place in 42:43.
Mike Hoggard helped 2nd Space Operations Squadron finish in 44:26, just minutes after he won the Strongperson Competition.
In that event, competitors were charged with flipping a 300-pound tractor tire, end over end, for 50 feet. Once they pushed the tire past the 50-foot line they then had to push a Gator utility vehicle [with passenger] the entire 50-foot length back to the start line.
Hoggard won the event by completing the two chores in 39.95 seconds, one second ahead of Bryan Bell, 50th Operations Support Squadron. Bell’s wife, Westy Bell, won the female competition [with 200-pound tire] in 55.93 seconds.
“I did some Olympic weight lifting while I was in college and that’s all about explosiveness, quickness and power,” Hoggard said. “I also played football in college and pushing the Gator seemed an awful lot like pushing a blocking sled.”
A few of the competitors had trouble keeping the tire in front of them as it flipped, but not Hoggard, who figured experience was key to flipping quickly.
“One thing you learn is to push evenly with both arms,” he said. “If you don’t, the tire doesn’t land flat and then it wobbles away from you.”