Foot Power: Gung Ho Bikes team surprises itself in Belize

By M.C. Besecker

For the Daily Record/Sunday News

The folks at Gung Ho Bikes in Manchester Township have accomplished some amazing feats over the years, and it has been my pleasure to report them to our local community. In 2014, the crew of Jay and Penny Zech, Doug Hershey and Rob Kinsley have been busy again.

The Gung Ho quartet traveled to Belize to compete in a grueling, four-day event called the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge. The race took place from Feb. 13-16 and it was a true test of endurance.

Competitors got to experience an amazing wilderness adventure that included caves, rivers, waterfalls and ancient ruins. Athletes were tested on their mountain bike, trek, canoe, stand-up paddleboard, and map-reading skills as they traveled more than 250 miles of the Cayo district of Belize.

The race was deemed the Series Championship of the North American Adventure Racing Series, and more than $5,000 worth of prizes were distributed to winners in different categories of competition.

Our local athletes, who have had their share of adventure racing experience, went to this event with no serious aspirations of winning.

“We had no expectations other than to survive the jungle and to have as much fun as possible,” Penny Zech posted on the Gung Ho Bikes Facebook page. “We toyed around with the idea that we were too old and we were definitely not in shape. As it turned out, we are still old, but we still have some race left in us.”

After a lot of hard work, Team Gung Ho came in fifth place in the “elite” four-person co-ed category and fifth overall out of all teams entered. Not bad for a crew just looking to survive.

The highlights were numerable, and the memories unforgettable. The crew biked for 159 kilometers, trekked for days and paddled a canoe another 20K.

“We saw sights that few Americans have ever seen,” Zech said. “We saw snakes, iguanas, tarantulas and brightly colored birds. We were surrounded one evening by screaming howler monkeys.”

The crew also climbed to the top of Caracol, the largest known Mayan ruin site in Belize, and visited the legendary Rio Frio Cave, which has the largest dome in the country. They traversed across waterfalls, hiked with their bikes for miles because the mud was too deep to ride, and paddled the East branch of the Belize River.

Of course, they also had their challenges, as one would expect with an arduous, non-stop event like this.

“Sleep deprivation hit us about day three, and the hallucinations hit us hard,” said Zech. “At one point, I saw a giant penguin in a tree, shortly followed by a gorilla with an incredible teak canoe.”

The team went to the morning of the fourth day before getting any substantial sleep, but still managed to finish with a solid time.

Zech spoke highly of their hosts, Lea and Antonio Molina, and of the Belize people in general.

“The income that this family received from the race using their facilities was what this family normally receives in an entire year,” Zech said. “Their hospitality was so very gracious. The Belize people were amazing. Their bright smile and pride in their country has left me with a very warm feeling for these people.

“We knew that we would have a grand adventure in the jungles of Belize, and we came home with much, much more,” she added. “The teamwork and the fun we shared have created memories that will be with us forever.”

One other York County athlete, Justin Brown, also took part in the event. Brown raced with Team NYARA (New York Adventure Racing Association), which placed third overall.

More info on this race is available at http://www.facebook.com/MayaMountainAdventure.

Meanwhile, Team Gung Ho was not done for the year. The crew sent two groups to the Yough Extreme Adventure Race in Ohiopyle on April 26. This 10-hour race included trail running, mountain biking and white-water kayaking to find checkpoints using topography map and compass.

The crew of Jay Zech, Kevin Lint and Doug Hershey took first place in the three-person male division and came in fourth overall. Penny Zech and Stacy Wendell teamed up to win the two-person female division.

The folks at Gung Ho Bikes in Manchester Township have accomplished some amazing feats over the years, and it has been my pleasure to report them to our local community. In 2014, the crew of Jay and Penny Zech, Doug Hershey and Rob Kinsley have been busy again.

The Gung Ho quartet traveled to Belize to compete in a grueling, four-day event called the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge. The race took place from Feb. 13-16 and it was a true test of endurance.

Competitors got to experience an amazing wilderness adventure that included caves, rivers, waterfalls and ancient ruins. Athletes were tested on their mountain bike, trek, canoe, stand-up paddleboard, and map-reading skills as they traveled more than 250 miles of the Cayo district of Belize.

The race was deemed the Series Championship of the North American Adventure Racing Series, and more than $5,000 worth of prizes were distributed to winners in different categories of competition.

Our local athletes, who have had their share of adventure racing experience, went to this event with no serious aspirations of winning.

“We had no expectations other than to survive the jungle and to have as much fun as possible,” Penny Zech posted on the Gung Ho Bikes Facebook page. “We toyed around with the idea that we were too old and we were definitely not in shape. As it turned out, we are still old, but we still have some race left in us.”

After a lot of hard work, Team Gung Ho came in fifth place in the “elite” four-person co-ed category and fifth overall out of all teams entered. Not bad for a crew just looking to survive.

The highlights were numerable, and the memories unforgettable. The crew biked for 159 kilometers, trekked for days and paddled a canoe another 20K.

“We saw sights that few Americans have ever seen,” Zech said. “We saw snakes, iguanas, tarantulas and brightly colored birds. We were surrounded one evening by screaming howler monkeys.”

The crew also climbed to the top of Caracol, the largest known Mayan ruin site in Belize, and visited the legendary Rio Frio Cave, which has the largest dome in the country. They traversed across waterfalls, hiked with their bikes for miles because the mud was too deep to ride, and paddled the East branch of the Belize River.

Of course, they also had their challenges, as one would expect with an arduous, non-stop event like this.

“Sleep deprivation hit us about day three, and the hallucinations hit us hard,” said Zech. “At one point, I saw a giant penguin in a tree, shortly followed by a gorilla with an incredible teak canoe.”

The team went to the morning of the fourth day before getting any substantial sleep, but still managed to finish with a solid time.

Zech spoke highly of their hosts, Lea and Antonio Molina, and of the Belize people in general.

“The income that this family received from the race using their facilities was what this family normally receives in an entire year,” Zech said. “Their hospitality was so very gracious. The Belize people were amazing. Their bright smile and pride in their country has left me with a very warm feeling for these people.

“We knew that we would have a grand adventure in the jungles of Belize, and we came home with much, much more,” she added. “The teamwork and the fun we shared have created memories that will be with us forever.”

One other York County athlete, Justin Brown, also took part in the event. Brown raced with Team NYARA (New York Adventure Racing Association), which placed third overall.

More info on this race is available at http://www.facebook.com/MayaMountainAdventure.

Meanwhile, Team Gung Ho was not done for the year. The crew sent two groups to the Yough Extreme Adventure Race in Ohiopyle on April 26. This 10-hour race included trail running, mountain biking and white-water kayaking to find checkpoints using topography map and compass.

The crew of Jay Zech, Kevin Lint and Doug Hershey took first place in the three-person male division and came in fourth overall. Penny Zech and Stacy Wendell teamed up to win the two-person female division.

Source: http://www.ydr.com

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