Back when the first Fat Tire Mountain Bike Race was held, most of the bikes didn’t even have fat tires.

“Probably less than one-third of the people had real mountain bikes,” said Leigh Plowman, recreation director for the Armed Forces Recreation Center in Garmisch, Germany. “We figure we had one of the first mountain bike races in Germany.”

Competitors and spectators are invited to the 19th annual event Saturday at Keans Lodge in Garmisch. There will be races for children 7 and under, teens, women and men, and food and music for spectators, including a live broadcast by American Forces Network radio.

About 200 cyclists are expected to compete, including military members, family members, civilians and local nationals. The five races range from a five-minute jaunt for children 7 and under to a pair of five-lap contests for the top riders that could take an hour or longer.

A full lap is about 2.6 miles, and the course for youth, women and beginners is about a mile per lap.

“Most of the people come and camp or stay in a hotel,” Plowman said. “There’ll be a lot of people camping. They’ll get down here on Friday and test out the course.”

Plowman said he takes pride in the event being spectator-friendly.

“The course passes by the main spectator area twice per lap, so people can watch the racers come down the fast downhill section and suffer back up the hill,” Plowman said. “Or they can walk up to some of the more technical sections of the course.

“There are places so steep and narrow that some people have to get off and push. Only the top couple of guys can probably ride the whole course on their bike.”

The event concludes the 11-race series that began in Aviano, Italy, on April 3.

Through Aug. 14, the series points leaders were: Kevin Hawkins of Heidelberg, Germany, in the men’s military masters category; Jack Cartwright of Würzburg, Germany, in men’s military open; David Gallagher of Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, in men’s military seniors; Rainer Schultz of Heidelberg in men’s civilian masters; Thomas Essick of Kaiserslautern, Germany, in men’s civilian open; Lewis Plotts of Vilseck, Germany, in men’s civilians seniors; Katherine Freasier (no home base listed) in women’s military open; and Jessica Frost of Würzburg in women’s civilian open.

Fat Tire Mountain Bike Race facts and figures

What: 19th annual Fat Tire Mountain Bike Race

When: Races start at 10 a.m. Saturday

Where: Keans Lodge, Garmisch, Germany

Info: DSN 440-2591/2644; civilian 08821-52066

Accommodations: Camping and lodging available. Details at

— Charlie Coon

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