MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
His face is covered in sweat and his legs shake from pedaling against the raging winds. Finally, he notices his surroundings and realizes he’s still 20 miles from home. Before doubt can begin to creep into his mind, he pedals harder, telling himself, “I have to make it home so there’s nothing left, but to grind and push through!”
This is a frequent experience for Tech. Sgt. Joshua Johnson, 5th Operations Support Squadron deputy airfield manager, who is one of six Minot Air Force Base Airmen on the Air Force Cycling Team, which consists of more than 150 cyclists Air Force-wide.
Johnson’s perseverance is a common trait among members of the team.
These Airmen understand the importance of self-balance and use cycling as a way to stay physically and socially fit.
“We share a bond as members of the Air Force Cycling Team,” Johnson said. “As a team we accomplish much more than a single rider can do by themselves.”
The Air Force Cycling Team is an organization that uses cycling as a way to display both wingmanship and fitness. There are various Air Force Cycling Team chapters and regions across the U.S.
Anyone who wants to join the team must represent the Air Force at five regional cycling events throughout the year.
The Air Force Cycling Team's premier event is the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, where more than a hundred Air Force cyclists across the world meet to help other riders on the Iowa roads during their 500-mile journey.
“RAGBRAI is the largest cycling tour in the U.S., so this is a chance for us to fulfill our annual membership requirement by doing all five events in one ride,” said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Hull, 5th Maintenance Squadron crew chief.
The cyclists also take the time to help other riders with any maintenance issues or injuries whenever they participate at events.
“We aid cyclists so that if a rider goes down or has a mechanical issue, we ensure there are multiple Airmen who can stop and help them,” said Johnson. “We bond and build relationships with Airmen while becoming proficient at bicycle maintenance and helping other cyclists.”
When these Airmen train for cycling events, they make sure to give their best effort in order to achieve success. Like fulfilling the Air Force mission, cycling training requires a countless amount of time and dedication.
“It all starts with setting your goals,” Johnson said. “Once you set a goal, you figure out how to achieve it.” “You learn to put the time, dedication and effort into it.”
Despite rigorous training leading up to an event, Johnson mentioned his cycling experience taught him not to focus on potential obstacles.
“When I’m setting a goal or trying to achieve something, the least amount of my focus is on the challenge,” he said. “My focus is on how to navigate around it.”
Johnson and other cycling team members of the team cycling has given them a chance to be involved with something greater than themselves.
Team members also get to do what they love while representing the Air Force, something they take great pride in.
“I have a deep love for the Air Force so this is a great way for me to show my passion for cycling, represent the Air Force, build relationships and share common interests with others,” Hull said.
Riding gives members the opportunity to bond with each other and connect with the local community.
“We engage with the community while representing the Air Force, we make friends w and help other cyclists in need,” said 1st Lt. Amy Hunt, 742nd Missile Squadron, ICBM combat assistant flight commander. “This makes the military a more personable and a relatable organization.”
In addition to training for RAGBRAI, which takes place in July, the team is also preparing for other cycling events, such as Bike the Borders, a local cycling race in Burlington, North Dakota.
Hunt and her team members know being a part of the Air Force cycling team is more than just peddling the countryside with friends or competing in a race. It’s about being a part of something bigger.
“This is one of the most motivating groups I’ve been around,” she said. “It’s an unbelievable community to be a part of and is a great way for me to represent the Air Force while doing something I love.”