Air Force cycling team wraps up RAGBRAI

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Kristen D. Duncan
  • 96th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
One hundred Air Force cycling team members finished in two columns of 50 in Muscatine, Iowa, on July 29, dipping their front wheel in the Mississippi River, the traditional end to the ride across the state.

The Air Force team participated in the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, for purposes of recruiting -- and the cyclists act as ambassadors for the service.

"One of the most inspiring things I've seen on RAGBRAI is the Air Force team riding into town in formation," said Jim Kuhn, Iowa resident and RAGBRAI rider.

The Air Force cyclists were often seen aiding other riders on the side of the road with flat tires and broken chains, according to Brig. Gen. Richard Devereaux, from the Secretary of the Air Force Regional Affairs Directorate. They even helped in the event of a bicycle accident.

The team carried recruiting materials, such as key chains, pens and stress-reliever balls, advertising the Web site. Recruiters were also set up in each overnight town to make official contact for potential recruits. Research shows dozens of people are recruited each year.

"First of all, we're here to remind everyone that we have warfighters right now fighting the global war on terror," said William Anderson, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics. "But we're also here to support our recruiters and I think it's important that I, the senior leader, show the support."

Mr. Anderson follows in the RAGBRAI footsteps of former Air Force secretaries Dr. Sheila Widnall and Whit Peters.

Besides setting an example in towns and on the road, the cyclists embodied health and fitness, promoting the Air Force's Fit to Fight program.

"Different things motivate people. Some people like to run, some like to bike or swim," said Maj. Michael Ward, U.S. Strategic Command. "I train because I don't want to get hurt. I read 'The more you train the less sore you are,' and I agree with that. If you don't train then you have a harder time out here.

"It's something I look forward to each year," Major Ward said. "Leading up to RAGBRAI I'm in my basement grinding on the trainer, watching Lance (Armstrong) videos to get myself fit and ready to go. It helps to make you portray the image better of the Air Force, too." 

Mr. Armstrong made an appearance at RAGBRAI this year, riding from Newton to Marengo, Iowa, and said he'd be joining the entire ride in 2007.

The team of cyclists and recruiters were also supported by Air National Guard units that provided free water to riders along the route and handed out Guard and Reserve promotional material, such as stickers and footballs.

The town of Mitchellville, Iowa, learned the Guard's support firsthand when a main water line broke, causing the entire town to lose its water supply. The Iowa Air National Guard's 132nd Fighter Wing quickly responded by deploying two water buffaloes to the town.

The ride covered 444 miles, with an optional loop for the century ride to total more than 460 miles. The event registered 10,000 riders from every state. This year, the 33rd RAGBRAI also had 15 countries represented and members from each of the four military services. This was the Air Force's 12th year participating in RAGBRAI. For more information, visit the team's Web site at