by Benjamin Newell
Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
6/4/2009 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Nearly 1,000 riders participated in the two-day Air Force Cycling Classic raised almost $35, 000 for a charity that supports wounded warriors and the families of military members who have died serving their country May 30 and 31 in Virginia.
The cycling classic combined a technical sprint race, a 100-mile professional cycling race, two family-friendly rides and a tribute to military members, May 30 in Clarendon, Va., and May 31 in Crystal City, Va.
Events began with the CSC Invitational, a series of amateur and professional races in Arlington, Va. Riders of all abilities challenged themselves during the Crystal Ride, a three-hour, early morning, noncompetitive event May 31 that started and ended in Crystal City and passed by the Air Force Memorial.
The Crystal Ride wasn't just about cycling. The event gave participants the chance to raise money for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund charity. Mountain bikes, tandem cycles and even tots towed behind their parents attempted to peddle through several laps of a 7.8 mile course.
The money raised came from entrance fees, individual and corporate sponsorship, and on-site fund raising. Almost 100 riders were part of Team Intrepid. Cyclists on Team Intrepid donated a minimum of $135, though David Haight picked up a special gold jersey for raising more than $4,000.
"This type of money just blew me away," said Robert Laybourn, the president of Arlington Sports and chief organizer of the Air Force Cycling Classic. "We'll be doing it again next year. You bet!"
Mr. Laybourn said the money raised goes directly toward the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md., which treats warriors with traumatic brain injuries specifically. Arlington Sports chose the Intrepid Fallen Heroes fund as the designated recipient of money raised at the amateur section of the Air Force Cycling Classic.
"I just think this is a great cause, that's why I'm here today," said Baul Smith, a Philadelphia native who follows the amateur cycling circuit. "The race was close; it was for a good cause. The Intrepid fund is just amazing for helping those who watch us."
Mr. Smith and a small pack of amateurs clocked in 20 minute laps consistently in Crystal City, while those on mountain bikes and tandems were happy to get a good workout around the Air Force Memorial.
The featured event -- the Air Force Cycling Classic Men's Pro Circuit Race -- kicked off at noon May 31 and featured 120 riders from top U.S. and international teams completing 14.5 laps on the 12.5 kilometer circuit. Shawn Milne, of Team Type-1 picked up first place in an elite race that was not decided until the last few feet on Crystal Drive.
"For us, it's a great time to get the Air Force message out to the Arlington community," said Eric Wood, the Air Force District of Washington Force Sustainment Flight branch chief. "It really shows people that Arlington is a destination, not a stop-over on the way to D.C."
Air Force officials also used the event as a recruiting event, working in conjunction with community leaders and the 317th Air Force Recruiting Squadron to highlight the employment opportunities within the service.