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GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Sept. 8, 2014) – Richard Potterton, assistant registrar at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, keeps his balance while crossing the rugged terrain of the course at the 29th Fat Tire Spectacular Mountain Bike Race Saturday at Kean’s Lodge here.

This was Potterton’s fifth time competing in the Fat Tire Spectacular, which is also the final race in this year’s Installation Management Command U.S. Forces Europe Mountain Bike Championship Series. This was the last Fat Tire Spectacular Race marking the end of the first and oldest mountain bike race in Germany and closure of Kean’s Lodge.

For more photos, visit the Marshall Center Photo Gallery.  (DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Jason Edwards/RELEASED)

Story and photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Jason Edwards
Marshall Center Public Affairs

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Sept. 8, 2014) – It was a bittersweet 88 minutes and 7 seconds for Richard Potterton as he bounced over rocks and exposed tree roots, zipped between trees, flew downhill and slugged through mud uphill for about 15.5 miles or 25 kilometers on his way to the finish line of the 29th Fat Tire Spectacular Mountain Bike Race Saturday on the course at the Kean’s Lodge here.

“I like the course.  It's challenging without feeling like I'm going to wrap my bike around a tree,” said Potterton, who is the assistant registrar at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies here, and who has competed in this race five times and was “not going to miss this one.”  

This was the last Fat Tire Spectacular Mountain Bike Race – first and oldest in Germany – to be held at Kean’s Lodge, which after being part of the Garmisch military community for more than 60 years, closed its doors Monday. The lodge will be turned over to German officials by the end of September, marking the last of three facilities in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to close as part of the European Infrastructure Consolidation. Alpental Golf Course closed November 2013, and General Abrams Hotel and Dispensary closed May 2014.

Leigh Plowman, recreation director at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort here, has been to all 29 races, either as an organizer or as a racer.

“A lot of the local Garmisch guys who are well ranked in the world participated in this race. Regina Stiefl, a World Cup downhill racer, and her husband have raced. In fact, her husband raced in the first one in 1984,” said Plowman, who added that the lodge was the backdrop to foster many American and German events and friendships.

For the past 22 years, the Fat Tire Spectacular Mountain Bike Race has been the finale for the Installation Management Command’s U.S. Forces Europe Mountain Bike Championship Series. In its final run, the race also served as the finale for Kean’s Lodge along with people reminiscing and a slide show flickering memories in the background. 

Memories like the German-American Friendship Shoot, camps by Child and Youth Services, and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, training opportunities by U.S. and European military units, and events for Warrior Adventure Quest and Wounded Warrior Project.

“The Fat Tire Spectacular has provided a fun and competitive environment for racers of all ages and experience levels,” said Jessica Roberson, manager of the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria-Garmisch Community Outdoor Recreation.

As in past years, the race sported a children’s race, youth race, main event and awards ceremony. For a list of race and series winners, visit the Installation Management Command’s U.S. Forces Europe Mountain Bike Championship Series Facebook Page.

The mission of the Marshall Center is to create a more stable security environment by advancing democratic institutions and relationships, especially in the field of defense; promoting active, peaceful security cooperation; and enhancing enduring partnerships among the nations of North America, Europe and Eurasia.

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