Air Force cycling team rides in RAGBRAI > Air Force > Item Display
SIOUX CITY, IOWA (AFNS) —
Air Force Cycling Team ride again in the 2022 Big Register Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa or RAGBRAI. The trip is a week-long recreational bike ride that takes riders from the Missouri River in the west to the Mississippi in the east.
The Air Force cycling team traveled to Sioux City where the Iowa Air National Guard 185th Air Refueling Wing welcomed the team for the first evening of the event.
According to Trey Munn, executive director of the cycling team, this year they have 105 riders as well as 15 support members. The group of cyclists joins more than 15,000 other cyclists from around the world during the week-long event.
This year RAGBRAI has runners on a northern route that covers nearly 462 miles beginning at Sergeant Bluff in the west and ending at Lansing in the east. Riders make nightly stops in Ida Grove, Pocahontas, Emmetsburg, Mason City, Charles City and West Union, swelling their populations by several thousand people for a giant party each night.
Munn has been on the Air Force cycling team for seven years and explained how he comes back every year because of the positive experience.
“It’s a fantastic way to talk about the Air Force,” Munn said. “Talking about where you’re from and just finding common ties with the people of Iowa.”
Air Force team members come from around the world and are part of the active duty Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and space force. The team also includes family members as well as retirees. Air Force cyclists have a rich history of acting as “The guardian angels of the roadwhere they have been known to provide assistance to fellow riders with equipment issues and assist with injuries.
Air Force Cycling Team Marketing Director Drew Patterson explained that the team is competing in its 27th RAGBRAI event this year.
“We promote fitness, cycling and being in the community,” Patterson said.
As part of their tradition on the first day, at sunrise, the team formed up and marched out of town. According to Patterson, team members typically ride about 10 hours a day before camping at each evening stop in host cities.
For Air Force cycling team member Major Sara McDowell, RAGBRAI is something of a homecoming. The Cedar Rapids native is a mental health provider for Air Force Headquarters and is a regional team leader for the AFCT. McDowell explained how AFCT members greet and distribute gifts to community members along the route.
McDowell said a big part of the team members’ experience is that they interact and connect, forming bonds through camaraderie toward their common goal.
“Airmen want to connect,” McDowell said.
McDowell said wearing Air Force wings on their cycling uniform is a great way for participating Airmen to come together while serving the community. Although McDowell is from Iowan, she said she did not participate in RAGBRAI before joining the Air Force on active duty. Now she is back for her fourth year. The first day of RAGBRAI this year is themed around the Air Force’s 75th anniversaryand many cyclists could be seen wearing patriotic colors and Air Force clothing.
Patterson explained that on the last day of riding, the Air Force team plans to meet two miles from Lansing, which is the last town on the ride. As part of their tradition, the team plans to parade around town on their bikes, marking an unofficial end for RAGBRAI.
AFCT’s first pilot and RAGBRAI newcomer Col. Jeffrey Pixley, commander of the 737th Training Group at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, said he looks forward to community interaction this week. .
“Having a very public face of the Air Force there,” Pixley said, “not just in the form of ads, but the regular people of the various AFSCs, officers and enlisted people representing the Air Force.”
“They help the community by putting service before self, literally on display as they walk through RAGBRAI and help people,” he explained. AFCT organizers say they are open to all ranks of the Air Force and Space Force, as well as retirees, Air Force civilian service workers and family members of Air Force service members. More information can be found on the Air Force Cycling Team website.
The AFCT plans to be part of the first Air Force Heritage Monument to Monument ride, starting at the Wright Brothers Memorial in North Carolina on September 15 and ending at the Airman’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. on September 18, the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United States Air Force.