Bike 2 Work to challenge commuters

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Team Offutt will celebrate National Bike Month in May with the kick-off of the second annual Offutt Bike 2 Work Commuter Challenge May 14. 

The Commuter Challenge is a program sponsored by Activate Omaha, a community-wide organization dedicated to encouraging everyone who resides in the Omaha metropolitan area to be active as a part of daily living. 

Their flagship cycling initiative is the Commuter Challenge. 

This friendly competition pits Team Offutt against other Omaha-area corporations in a contest to log the most number of days and miles ridden to work on a bicycle. 

Last year Team Offutt had 79 participants, logged 1,313 days ridden and 18,700 miles. They finished third in a field of 27 teams. 

Team Offutt captain and U.S. Strategic Command contractor Mr. Mike Wagster hopes that this year will see a larger turnout from the Offutt community. "Last year less than one percent of the base populace participated in the challenge. Most of the riders came from USSTRATCOM and Air Force Weather Agency, with only a handful of riders coming from the 55th Wing and other tenant units," Wagster said. 

"This year, we have organized our efforts to get the word out to more bicyclists. Our main goal is to promote biking to work as a viable means to commute," he said. 

This year's challenge will once again begin with a group ride to work. Riders for Team Offutt will have two options to participate: The first will be to ride in the Mayor's Ride at 8 a.m. May 14 in downtown Omaha. The second option will be a team-bonding ride to Offutt AFB leaving the Bellevue Culver's restaurant parking lot at 7 a.m. Members of Team Offutt will be given further details on both rides as the events draw closer. 

Participants in last year's Activate Omaha Commuter Challenge rode more than 77,000 miles. This resulted in gas money savings of over $11,600. With gas prices expected to once again surpass the $3 mark this summer, potential savings for bike commuters will increase. 

The Commuter Challenge has added bonuses at Offutt AFB. In addition to saving gas money, bike commuters to Offutt enjoy fitness benefits and camaraderie. Team Offutt is currently compiling a registry of safe bicycling routes to Offutt which may be used to connect riders in similar locations and experience levels. Also, Team Offutt members may apply for temporary lockers at the Frady Fitness Center and Offutt Field House for the duration of the Commuter Challenge. 

Riders of all ability levels are invited to ride and join the team. Membership is open to all active duty members, civilians and contractors who work at Offutt. 

The 14 weeks of commuting will culminate with the 17th Annual Corporate Cycling Challenge Aug. 19 in downtown Omaha in Heartland Park. 

To join the team, contact Master Sgt. Robert Smith at 294-8697.

For more information contact Mike Wagster at 232-2812 or Carolyn McGill at 294-3337. 

Editors note: Watch for tips on bicycle maintenance and safety tips in upcoming editions of the Air Pulse.