Cycling for physical, mental fitness

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --

Do you remember that feeling when you finally figured out how to ride a bike? Your brother or sister, or maybe your parent or guardian, taught you how to balance and pedal at the same time, and then took off the training wheels.

Maybe you did a weird circle until you fell down. But you finally balanced, pedaled and rode that Superman or princess bike down the street without any assistance.

“As kids, we learn how to ride and then, for most, cycling falls out of our daily lives,” said Maj. Anthony Bares, the director of wing inspections assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing Inspector General office. “As people get older, many return to cycling because it offers a low impact way of getting in shape. Also, many lifelong runners tend to turn to cycling because it’s easier on the joints.”

Bares took up cycling in 2004 after a long life of running. What started out as preparation for triathlons turned into a love for the release these endurance sports provide.

Seven years later, Bares and his father-in-law, Hugh Benning, set up a memorial ride for wounded warriors, and each year since have donated more than $1,500 yearly to foundations supporting wounded warriors. This past Memorial Day, the Annual 100K donated $2,200 to the Intrepid Fallen Hero’s Fund.

But it’s not just about helping people or staying physically fit; Bares partakes in these for a different reason – the mental break it gives him.

“It’s a great time to think and problem solve,” Bares said. “Also, it is a great way to explore an area; you tend to take in your surroundings more than if you were in a car. During a run, I tend to pay more attention to the little things along the route. Cycling takes that to the next level – it allows you to cover a much greater distance with the same results.”

Earlier this month, Bares participated in the Gravel Grinder throughout the Black Hills, a 110-mile ride on gravel roads with limited cell phone reception.

“That was the best experience, and the toughest event I’ve ever done, to include a Half-Iron Man,” Bares said. “Unfortunately, my father-in-law and I only completed 71 of the 110-mile course. Things were going great until we missed a turn, added an hour to our course, and missed the cutoff time at a checkpoint. It was upsetting but that is part of the adventure of a gravel ride. It was still a great ride through the hills, and a great workout with over 5,000 feet of climbing.”

A destination-based rider, Bares prefers riding through the Black Hills and around the Reptile Gardens area, but will soon ride in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. Not only will Bares ride, he’ll do so surrounded by 165 Air Force Cycling Team members and Mr. Benning.

“The Air Force Cycling Team’s goal is to promote the Air Force in a good light while staying active and help people, physically and mentally along the way,” Bares explained. “In the afternoon, first aid becomes a big thing due to dehydration and wrecks as people get tired.”

Bares currently leads the Ellsworth and Minot iteration of the Air Force Cycling Team, and will begin recruiting for the 2018 team in November. For more information, call Bares at (605) 385-5638 or visit their team Facebook Page by searching Air Force Cycling Team – Ellsworth/Minot AFB.

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