Warm weather, new ‘Lunch Bunch’ bring bicycle safety to forefront

  • Published
  • By Kevin Chandler
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
The recent string of 70 degree days means cyclists of all ages are dusting their bikes off and hitting the trails. Before getting back into a bicycling routine, it is important to review proper bike safety. Ms. Sheila Sollis, 97th Air Mobility Wing ground safety office, offers these tips to enjoy safe cycling this spring and summer:

· buy a properly fitted helmet and check brakes and tire pressures prior to riding,
· wear neon or reflective clothing, no matter what time of day,
· go with the flow of traffic, not against it, and obey all traffic laws,
· do not wear a headset while riding, you need eyes and ears to stay aware,
· stand over the top of your bicycle-there should be about two inches of clearance  between you and the tube (bar) and five inches of clearance if riding a mountain bike,
· children under the age of 10 should ride on the sidewalk.

All these safety practices will come in handy for those interested in joining the newly formed "Lunch Bunch" bike group. Established by Col. Noel Zamot, 97th Mission Support Group commander, the group meets every Wednesday at 11:30 for a pleasant ride through Altus to the reservoir. When asked where he came up with the idea, Colonel Zamot replied he had seen lunchtime fitness groups at other bases and thought Altus needed something similar.

"We arrived here in July and rode in a charity ride our first weekend here," he recalled, "that is where we first met a lot of people from the base. A lot of interest was expressed in having a group ride."

Colonel Zamot feels the reservoir is a fantastic feature of Altus, providing a scenic spot for cyclists, runners and walkers. The location is also perfect for the time constraints of lunchtime bike rides. "Riding around the reservoir allows those who need to cut out early to do so," he explained.

Although the group has only enjoyed a few rides together so far, many participants are noticing improved fitness levels. This is particularly beneficial to Airmen struggling to do well on the annual fitness test, or for those desiring a low-impact, yet still intense, cardio workout.

As Colonel Zamot said, "One of the nice things about cycling, I think that it actually rolls in pretty well with the rest of the PT that we do because it's non-impact but pretty high aerobic and anaerobic if you wanted to. It's entirely up to you so you can ratchet yourself up to the level of effort that you need based on how hard you want to go."

Groups interested in early morning runs or swimming are also being discussed and could be established once summer is near. This would give those interested in these activities, or those training for a triathlon, an opportunity to enjoy the same camaraderie and fitness gains the "Lunch Bunch" cyclists receive. Colonel Zamot feels such fitness gains are important to overall health.

"I believe that fitness is a part of duty; I believe that it is part of our responsibility as airmen to be physically fit," the colonel continued. "I think it makes me better at my job, better as an officer, as a commander, and to be able to offer that possibility of doing something different to the airmen at Altus, I think it's a fun thing."