Pros, families ride in 2011 Air Force Cycling Classic

  • Published
  • By Aletha Frost
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
Hot and humid weather didn't deter the more than 2,300 cycling enthusiasts from around the world and the approximate 600 on-lookers, who came out to cheer for teams and riders in the 2011 Air Force Cycling Classic held June 11 and 12, in Northern Virginia.

The goal of the two-day event was to foster Air Force community relations and fun family fitness. The events provided participants an opportunity to showcase their talents and earn bragging rights in competitive and noncompetitive races, while raising money for their favorite charity.

The Clarendon Cup Race kicked off the weekend events. Cyclists riding in Saturday's races rolled through the streets of Clarendon, Va. The Clarendon Cup has been the Washington, D.C., region's premier Pro/Am Race since 1998. This year it was incorporated as part of the two days of racing under the sponsorship of the Air Force Cycling Classic. The men's and women's races are a part of USA Cycling's national race calendar. In addition to these marquee races, there were two amateur races and a race for kids 9-years old and younger.

Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, was on hand for the second day of events, June 12, including opening ceremonies at Crystal City for photos with the Air Force Cycling Team at the Air Force Memorial.

Sunday's event kicked off with the Air Force Cycling Classic Crystal Ride Challenge participatory race. Cyclists of all abilities challenged themselves during the non-competitive event on a 12.5 kilometer course starting in Crystal City, trekking past the Air Force Memorial and Pentagon. Riders earned bronze, silver and gold medals for completing 2, 4, or 8 laps within the 3.5-hour window.

Riders of all ages and on every type of self-propelled wheeled apparatus took part in the Crystal Ride Challenge.

Air Force District of Washington's Manpower, Personnel and Services two-man team of Lt. Col. William Brinley and Eric Wood brought home a bronze medal for completing a combined total of five laps and bragging rights for AFDW.

The Crystal Ride Challenge also featured teams riding in the Corporate/Team Challenge Race to raise funds for their favorite charity.

General Schwartz thanked the supporters of our Airmen and their families and wished the teams and riders success in the day's events. He especially acknowledged the supporters and the riders in the Corporate/Team Challenge Race, where Team Sabre riders raised $20,000 for the Air Force Aid Society.

The Air Force Aid Society supports the Air Force mission by providing worldwide emergency assistance, sponsoring education assistance programs and offering an array of base community enhancement programs that improve quality of life for Airmen and their families.

A first-time rider in the Air Force Cycling Classic, Linda Egentowich, chief of operations for the Air Force Aid Society, accepted the check on behalf of AFAS.

"Every penny of the $20,000 will be used to benefit the Airmen and their families," Ms. Egentowich said. "These funds will help with whatever their needs are. Whether it's for travel, education, family emergencies or to provide services through the Airmen and Family Readiness Center, this donation will help all Airmen who need it."

With the Air Force Memorial as the backdrop, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard color team posted the colors and the U.S. Air Force Band's Max Impact performed the national anthem. A flyover by the 1st Helicopter Squadron from Joint Base Andrews set the stage for the high-energy featured race of the day, the Air Force Cycling Classic Men's Pro Race, a 60-mile professional cycling race.

At 11:15 a.m., Col. Phillip Gibbons, AFDW vice commander, began the countdown to start the race.

The Men's Pro Race began at the Air Force Memorial and ended in Crystal City with 12 U.S. professional teams and five international professional teams competing at speeds of over 25 miles per hour. Jacob "Jake" Keough of the UnitedHealthcare team finished in first place for the second year in a row.

The Women's Pro Race followed the Men's Pro Race and Leah Kirchmann, riding for the Colavita Forno d'Asolo Pro Cycling Team, took first place.

Both winners were presented coins by Lt. Gen. Darrell D. Jones, the Air Force Manpower and Personnel director at Air Force headquarters in the Pentagon.

"It's only fitting that the Air Force sponsor an annual Cycling Classic," General Jones said. "When you think about it, the Air Force and cycling share a long history. Early airpower can be traced to a bicycle shop owned by two innovative brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright. They built the foundation of today's Air Force."