ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Surrounded by strangers, 10,000 cyclists biked together across Iowa in seven days. Stopping at four towns per day for food and rest, the athletes rode approximately 60 miles per day across the state. U.S. Air Force Capt. John Lachiewicz, an evaluation pilot with the 54th Air Refueling Squadron, rode with the other cyclists, representing Altus and the Air Force by doing what he loves.
Lachiewicz joined the Air Force Cycling Team in 2016 and has competed in two major events with the team along with 7 individual events.
“I’ve known about the Air Force Cycling Team for a few years,” said Lachiewicz. “Last year, an email from the Oklahoma team lead of the Air Force Cycling Team came down asking for people to join. I talked to my wife about it and decided that this was something I wanted to do, so I contacted them and signed up for the team.”
Living in Altus provides opportunities for cycling among other sports and outdoor recreation.
“Altus is a good place to ride, especially when you have 20 mph wind blowing against you,” said Lachiewicz. “I’ll ride out to Blair, Tipton or Olustee. You can ride in pretty much any direction, I just recommend riding in the wind. I’m also a part of the Altus Running Club which meets twice a week in Altus as part of the Altus In Motion. They help put on the triathlon in town and promote different running events.”
Lachiewcz utilizes these groups and participates in community events to stay in shape for the Air Force Cycling Team, which can be physically demanding.
“It’s a big physical feat,” said Lachiewicz. “For the Ride Across Iowa event, we had to ride for seven days in a row, going 60 miles a day. One day we rode over 100 miles, the whole thing was a big, physical challenge.”
The Air Force Cycling Team has multiple events for cyclists to participate in, offering a community for those who love to take to the road.
“Joining the team is less about physical requirements and more about commitments,” said Lachiewicz. “Over the course of the year, the commitments are five team rides and one century ride, which is riding 100 miles in a day. Every year, the Air Force Recruiting Service allows members of the Air Force Cycling Team to support the team on the Ride Across Iowa.”
Despite the physical demands of the Air Force Cycling Team, it’s actually easy to join. All someone has to do is reach out and ask.
“The Air Force Cycling Team is open to active-duty, guard, reserve, dependents, Air Force civilians and other Air Force affiliated personnel,” said Lachiewicz. “A great way to get in contact with the Air Force Cycling Team is on their Facebook ‘Air Force Cycling Team’. For people who want to join the local cycling team they can contact U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Joel Eppley, 375th Operations Group Detachment 1 commander.”
Lachiewcz has been a part of the team for a year now and has enjoyed the physical challenges, comradery, teamwork and chance to engage with other Airmen and civilians.
“It’s been a pretty big experience,” said Lachiewicz. “There were big physical feats, chances to represent the Air Force and to be a part of an Air Force community that interacts with the civilian community in a caring and supportive way. I think community engagement makes a big difference and it was good for the Air Force to do this.”