COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa -- Come rain, wind or an average temperature of 90 degrees, 94 Airman began pedaling across Iowa as part of the Registers Annual Bicycle Ride across Iowa, better known as RAGBRAI, July 21. The Air Force Cycling Team, under the leadership of Senior Master Sgt. Larry Gallo, assigned to 433rd Airlift Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, donned team jerseys complete with the Air Force symbol on their backs and started their trek at Council Bluffs, Iowa. This is the 19th year the Air Force has participated as a team in the event. One of the longest rides of the seven-day event, took place July 22 and was dubbed "The Century." Airmen biked approximately 100 miles from Harlan to their daily stop in Des Moines, Iowa. RAGBRAI is the oldest and largest recognized noncompetitive bicycle ride in the nation. It attracts more than 10,000 riders worldwide. The Airmen who participate in RAGBRAI use their personal leave to participate, and fund their equipment and transportation for the chance to cycle on the Air Force Team. This was the case for Master Sgt. Barry Collins, assigned to Air Force Training Command Headquarters, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. He's been biking for 25 years and on the first day of RAGBRAI, he finished a 50-mile ride in less than six hours.
"This is something I've always wanted to do, and when the Air Force gave me the opportunity, I jumped at the chance to go," he said. "I also wanted to come to meet all the people interested in biking. It's nice to see this many people interested in it, especially in the Air Force." In addition to looking forward to the physical challenge, most Airmen look at the ride not only as a chance to spread the Air Force fitness culture, but also to spread the "wingman culture," which Gallo said is a major reason he continues to lead the Air Force team which he has been part of for the past eight years. "This is largest ride in the U.S. Some days we have 25,000 riders. It's a great opportunity for the Air Force to get their message out," Gallo said. "By participating as a team, we're showing two things, that we're fit and by helping people along the ride, we're also showing that we take care of our people the way we take care of people on the home front."
By the end of the week, the Airmen will have cycled more than 400 miles across Iowa. The AFCT is open to all active duty, Reserve and Guard Airmen and their families, as well as Air Force civilians and retired Air Force members.