Scott Air Force Base News

Scott’s Air Force Cycling Team rides 44th Annual RAGBRAI

The 2017 Air Force Cycling Team members from Scott were (from left) Jeff Leicy, Jared Dickerson, Sara McDowell, Kimberly Smathers, Greg Young, Bruce Olson, Xaviour Campbell, Vincent Zabala, Tom Black and Kyle Smathers.
The 2017 Air Force Cycling Team members from Scott were (from left) Jeff Leicy, Jared Dickerson, Sara McDowell, Kimberly Smathers, Greg Young, Bruce Olson, Xaviour Campbell, Vincent Zabala, Tom Black and Kyle Smathers.

The Air Force Cycling Team at Scott successfully accomplished their mission from July 23-29, serving as Guardians on the Road while completing the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

This year, the regional team brought nine riders to RAGBRAI, almost doubling last year’s team of five. Led by regional team leader, Lt. Col. Vincent Zabala from the 618th Air Operations Center, Team Scott trained from January to July in preparation for the “showcase” event.

It was like weaving thread through a pin hole with sweaty palms. Being part of a team that shared the same values and desires—to go above and beyond the regular call of duty—is an experience I will forever cherish.

Tech. Sgt. Xaviour Campbell, 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron

Team Scott members included Lt. Col. Tom Black, 618th AOC; Lt. Col. Greg Young, United States Transportation Command; Capt. Jeff Leicy, 458th Airlift Squadron, Capt. Sara McDowell, 375th Medical Operations Squadron; Capt. Kyle Smathers, 837th Cyberspace Operations Squadron, and his wife, Kimberly; Tech. Sgt. Xaviour Campbell, 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron; Staff Sgt. Jared Dickerson, 375th Medical Support Squadron; and Master Sgt. Bruce Olson, 618th AOC, who served in the role of support crew.

Throughout the seven-day RAGBRAI, Team Scott supported other cyclists by repairing 38 flat tires, often times providing the spare tubes thanks to sponsorship by local bike shops. In addition to fixing flats, Team Scott handled derailleur, chain, seat post, cleat and other mechanical issues. Additionally, the team rendered basic first aid and traffic assistance during medical emergencies.

RAGBRAI was started in 1973 when a couple of friends at the Des Moines Register got together to ride across the entire state of Iowa. It has now evolved into the world’s longest, largest and oldest recreational bicycle event. With 8,500 weeklong riders, 1,500 daily riders, and countless “unofficial” riders, the roads and towns fill up, creating a one-of-a-kind experience. Although cycling is the unifying theme, diversity abounds—young and old, one seat, two seat, three seats and even no seat, spandex and cotton; creative jerseys and yes, even tutus—all pedaling the open road from one end of the state to the other.

This year, the AFCT shared their annual team dinner with members of Iowa’s “Dream Team,” which started in 1996 to give disadvantaged, inner-city youth the opportunity to ride RAGBRAI. The teenagers make a five-month commitment that provides them a unique opportunity to build relationships, achieve personal growth, and learn from adult mentors.

This year, the AFCT shared their annual team dinner with members of Iowa’s “Dream Team,” which started in 1996 to give disadvantaged, inner-city youth the opportunity to ride RAGBRAI. The teenagers make a five-month commitment that provides them a unique opportunity to build relationships, achieve personal growth, and learn from adult mentors.

RAGBRAI provided AFCT members an opportunity to wear the Air Force emblem, as well as have meaningful exchanges with local citizens of the overnight hosting towns and the towns in between.

Many lasting connections were made with individuals from Iowa, other states, and other nations across the globe, such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Ukraine. Team members truly appreciated hearing, “Thank you Air Force!” nearly every minute of the ride. Of note, one highlight for the entire AFCT was when all 131 riders formed into a tight, two-by-two formation and rode into the final town where other riders stopped to cheer and local residents lined the street to applaud and thank not just the AFCT, but the entire Air Force for their efforts.

Members returned the praise by saying “good job” in acknowledgment of other riders’ efforts. Other rewarding experiences included AFCT members’ visit to an assisted-living home to spend time with and thank a decorated WWII veteran, as well as meeting young Gabbie, who is living life fully while fighting a brain tumor. Young said that, “One of the best things I’ve ever done on a bicycle, and strangely one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in the Air Force ... and I’ve been in three wars and on every continent.”

Multiple Team Scott members remembered a single mechanical fix as their highlight experience. They stopped to assist a rider 16 miles along a 102-mile route, and stayed for 90 minutes to fix the rider’s twisted chain and derailleur. Campbell recounted, “It was like weaving thread through a pin hole with sweaty palms. Being part of a team that shared the same values and desires—to go above and beyond the regular call of duty—is an experience I will forever cherish.”

One of the best things I’ve ever done on a bicycle, and strangely one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in the Air Force ... and I’ve been in three wars and on every continent.

Lt. Col. Greg Young, United States Transportation Command, said in reference to visiting Gabbie, a young lady who is fighting a brain tumor

Even though each stop meant extra effort back on the bike to stay on schedule, these personal connections made the event. Other personal connections included taking time to chat with local families cheering riders on from their front yards, as well as chatting with children and passing out recruiting gear or swag (i.e. Air Force bracelets and stickers) to America’s youth.

For anyone wanting to be part of RAGBRAI next year, please visit the Air Force Cycling Facebook page and www.afcycling.com. In addition, there are pictures and videos of the AFCT completing its 2017 RAGBRAI mission.

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