Des Moines, Iowa --
After a very cold and snowy start to spring, the warmer weather, green grass and colorful flowers befitting of the season have arrived, allowing for a bevy of outdoor activities. The month of May marks the unofficial start to the biking season and Airmen of the 132d Wing fully embraced it this week.
From May 14-18, 2018, members of the 132d Wing, Iowa Air National Guard participated in National Bike Week. Riders of different levels of skill and experience went on daily rides to work as well as at the end of the duty day.
For Staff Sgt. Tag Noel, a cyber security technician, 132d Communications Flight, biking is all about breaking up the monotony of a normal day and workout.
Already a long distance running enthusiast, Noel took up biking in 2012 in part to break up and diversify his cardio training regimen. Since then he has built a whole retinue around it, never going less than 30 miles during a ride.
Biking is an essential part of Noel’s ability to decompress after long, stressful days. He said the feeling is amazing and that he would recommend it for everyone.
“It’s what I refer to as wind therapy,” said Noel. “It clears your mind and soul and just makes you a happier person.”
He prefers riding his fat tire bike to the standard style meant for pavement. The fat tire allows him to cover tougher terrain with greater ease, landscapes he said he prefers to pavement.
“It’s like driving a 4-wheel drive truck,” said Noel. “You get to explore river bottoms, dirt trails
Noel appreciates the growing culture of bike riding enthusiasts on base and how the bike week festivities help to promote a culture of physical fitness on base.
“We’re so used to running around a track a few times or going to the gym before going home,” said Noel. “Bike week just adds another level where you can bike off base with leadership. It’s a great motivator and makes you feel good.”
For Master Sgt. Karen Wilson, 132d Wing finance, the destination of a bike ride is less important than the journey to get there. Whether the trail leads to a beautiful landmark or a local refreshment stand, Wilson said she enjoys the work it takes to get there. Wilson started her biking adventures in 2016 when she was looking for a means of low impact exercise following a knee operation. Since then, biking has become one of her primary hobbies and forms of physical fitness.
“I needed some exercise that didn’t hurt my knee,” said Wilson. “The bicycle was perfect because it was constant movement and help strengthen my muscles.”
Wilson’s enjoys exploring the vast array of trails in the Des Moines Metro. She said her favorite rides are when days are sunny and the trails have “less people for me to run over.”
Although normally a solo rider, the 2018 Bike Week marked the second year on a row Wilson has participated in group rides at the end of the day. She said she’s grateful to the command staff for facilitating daily rides and promoting a culture of fun physical fitness.
“I truly appreciate it,” said Wilson. “It’s a lot of fun riding with the group from here on base.”
As much fun as it is for Wilson, she hopes involvement in bike week will keep growing and more people will become involved.
“I think more people need to try it,” said Wilson. “It would be great to get bigger groups and better diversity of bikers.”