News: Langley cyclists to take on 500-mile bicycle ride
Story by Senior Airman Kayla Newman
JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – As the state of Iowa prepares to host the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world, nine U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, also prepare for their premier ride.
As part of the Air Force Cycling Team, the Airmen will participate in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, the RAGBRAI, showcasing the Air Force’s core values on the road for the 20th consecutive year this July.
The event is a week-long ride covering close to 500 miles. With more than 30,000 riders participating, the AFCT makes it their mission to connect with as many of those riders as possible.
“Riding in the RAGBRAI is all about the Air Force; it is about telling the Air Force story and representing all Airmen,” said retired Chief Master Sgt. Mark Wilder, Headquarters Air Combat Command F-22 Raptor fleet sustainment supervisor. “We have junior enlisted Airmen through colonels telling their personal stories, which provides diversity and enables the public to relate to us. We endorse the Air Force and try to get the best people interested.”
While the RAGBRAI is a cycling event, the AFCT focuses mainly on the people.
“We intentionally don’t ride as a whole team,” explained Wilder, a 20-year veteran cyclist. “We disperse after the first 10 minutes of the ride, so other riders see Air Force members all day long.”
According to Wilder, AFCT’s goal is not to competitively race other riders, but rather to encourage the wingman concept of never leaving anyone behind and offering help to others.
Being the largest group of riders at RAGBRAI, with 130 members, the AFCT only wants to be recognized for portraying the wingman concept.
“We hear it all day long when we stop at rest stops. We get thanked all the time for stopping and helping others with flat tires, fixing gears or chains,” Wilder said. “When you spend that extra 15 minutes to help someone out and get them back on the ride, that’s what makes it more enjoyable for everyone.”
For some Langley cyclists, this will not only be their first time at RAGBRAI but also their first event with the team.
“I am really excited to go to Iowa and show [other riders] what the Air Force is about,” said Airman 1st Class Shane Jochum, 1st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant dedicated F-22 Raptor crew chief. “I’m really looking forward to meeting a lot of new friends.”
For more information or to track the team’s progress, visit http://www.afcycling.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/afcycling