An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Team Scott members represent as ‘guardian angels’ at 2016 RAGBRAI

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Vince Zabala
  • 618th Air Operations Center

Have you ever ridden your bicycle 470 miles in seven days?

Well, six Team Scott members did when then joined up with another 130 riders and support personnel to form the 2016 Air Force Cycling Team and completed the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. Team Scott members Lt. Col. Vince Zabala, 618th Air Operations Center; Lt. Col. Tom Black, 618th AOC; Maj. Erik Vacarelli, 618th AOC; Capt. Sean McGee, 458th Airlift Squadron; 1st Lt. Jeff Leicy, 458th AS; and Mr. Loren Duffy, retired Air Force Reserves Lt. Col., recently gathered with other base and regional Air Force teams at Camp Dodge, Iowa, before departing for RAGBRAI.

RAGBRAI is America’s oldest and most popular multi-day bike ride. In its 44th consecutive year, RAGBRAI participation has grown to approximately 20,000 bike riders and participants. The route changes every year, and this year AFCT riders logged approximately 470 miles between July 24 and 30. In stark contrast to its reputation as “flat as a pancake,” Iowa’s southern region proved a real challenge with about 19,700 feet of vertical climb during the week.

Cyclists began their journey with the tradition of dipping their back tires in the Missouri River near the start town of Glenwood, Iowa, and ended by dipping their front tires in the Mississippi River in Muscatine, Iowa. Along the route, they visited and biked through approximately 40 small towns and villages, each of which greeted the bicyclists with open arms, school bands, banners, food, water, rest stations, and much-needed encouragement.

This was the 22nd consecutive year the AFCT has participated in RAGBRAI. With their distinctive Air Force cycling uniforms, AFCT emphasizes projecting a positive image of the Air Force. In addition to demonstrating the physical fitness of Air Force members, AFCT is known throughout the RAGBRAI community as the “guardian angels” of the route. Whether fixing flat tires, replacing chains, directing traffic around accidents, rendering first aid, or just coaxing a tired bicyclist up a steep hill, AFCT members were always there to help.

This would not have been possible without the tremendous efforts of the Air Force support personnel, who broke down camp, hauled it to the next overnight town, and set up camps. The support team also arranged for campsites, iced down water, located laundry and shower facilities, charged cell phones, and performed scores of other tasks that allowed the Air Force riders to focus on their mission of helping others along the road.

The Air Force Cycling Team is made up of Active Duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, family members, and retirees. In order to join the team for RAGBRAI, military members must have a “good” or “excellent” on their Fitness Test. Family members and retirees must demonstrate they are physically fit enough to complete the grueling bike ride, which includes a 100-mile day of biking, and project a positive image. If you’re interested in joining the team for either next year’s RAGBRAI (support or rider) or for just some local cycling with one of the base or regional teams, please visit the AFCT website.

For more info on this year’s AFCT experience at RAGBRAI, please visit the AFCT page on Facebook or Twitter. It was an amazing adventure!