Mountain biking: Cartwright’s open title runs its course
GARMISCH, Germany — Jack Cartwright of Kitzingen ended his season of perfect attendance at the 2004 Mountain Bike Challenge with his 10th military men’s open victory in 11 tries Saturday, formally accepting the series trophy he clinched four races ago.
But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t up for a challenge in the final race of the series sponsored by Installation Management Agency-Europe’s.
Pointing toward Mike Gallagher of Heidelberg and Tom Essick of Kaiserslautern, the two top overall finishers among U.S. ID card holders Saturday, Cartwright said, “When guys like Mike and Tom come out, you work your butt off. Mike’s on the Armed Forces team, and Essick races German B Class.”
Gallagher, racing for just the fourth time in this year’s series, clocked 50 minutes, 54 seconds on Saturday. Essick, who won the open series championship for civilians, chose to race in the seniors event Saturday and completed the technically challenging 20-kilometer course in 52:05. Since both were racing in the seniors category for riders 30-39, Cartwright’s 55:39 was the top time in the open category among U.S. card-holding riders.
The race was conducted on Garmisch’s hilly, wooded course on a perfect late-summer day, dry and in the low 70s.
“This is the best of all the courses,” Cartwright said of the 11 venues he raced this season. “Aviano and Hohenfels are close, but this is a true mountain bike course.”
Cartwright and Christopher Asper of Aviano, Italy, runner-up for the military men’s series open title, were the only riders to compete in all 11 races this season.
With his 10 victories and a flat-tire second at Kitzingen in June, Cartwright amassed 263 points under the scoring system, which awards points based on the number of riders entered in each category in each event. Asper was second with 148.
Winning, however, isn’t the only thing about the MTB Challenge that matters to Cartwright.
Mountain bike racing, he said, rises above road racing because of the individuality of the race and the camaraderie of the racers.
“Mountain-bike racing is 100 percent effort,” he said. “You have to be an all-around great rider. Barring equipment failure, the best-conditioned rider wins.”
Military men’s seniors series champion David Gallagher of Rhein-Main clocked 59:12 in winning his category for the second straight year.
Gallagher said he had his best race ever at Garmisch on Saturday.
“The dry conditions allowed me to be more aggressive in the technical sections,” he said. “I was pedaling going downhill trying to catch the guys in front of me. I’d never pedaled the downhills here before.”
Women’s champion Katharine Freasier of Darmstadt, who led all of her gender by competing in and winning six races this season, was disappointed just two military women raced on Saturday.
“I’d like to see more women come out,” said the Idahoan whose husband, Dennis, introduced her to the sport. “But it’s not a sport that speaks to women.”