by Senior Airman Phillip Houk
460th Space Wing Public Affairs
8/22/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Airmen
face many challenges every day that range from physical training to
difficult work related tasks, but rarely does any Airman, including a
chief, face the challenge of a nearly 500 mile bike ride.
With less than a year left before he retires, Chief Master Sgt. Alan
Onufrak, 460th Medical Group superintendent, rode in the Registers
Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa on the Air Force team, all
while helping fellow cyclists, recruiting and completing the challenge.
According to the RAGBRAI website, the
event is a bicycle ride not a race, averaging around 468 miles and
lasting a full week. Each year more than 20,000 cyclist complete this
challenge, with 95 members serving on the Air Force team.
"You do not have to be in real great shape to get across the ride," said
Onufrak, "but to ride 468 miles in 7 days does take a bit of
Onufrak participated in RAGBRAI as part of the Air Force Cycling team.
This team has participated for 19 years, using the opportunity to help
others and spread a positive Air Force message.
"This is just a ride where you go at your own pace," the chief
explained. "We all participate to be recruiters and spend as much time
as possible in the towns. When you have a town that has a population of
1000 and over the course of a day more than 35,000 people pass through,
to be the person to stop and help fix a tire or have lunch at a local
restaurant, you can make a huge difference."
Since the last time Onufrak participated in RAGBRAI, he has kept up his
cycling abilities while balancing his professional duties and personal
"I have a Trek 1200 road bike, not one of the fanciest, but a great
bike," said Onufrak. "I have put more than 10,000 miles on that bike
since 2006. I try to get out at least once a week, and more when I can,
but sometimes it is difficult to find a balance between being a chief, a
dad, having a family and church.
This is the second time Onufrak has participated in RAGBRAI but it was his last.
"I was part of RAGBRAI back in 2006," Onufrak said, "I wanted to do it
this year because I am retiring at the end of this year, so this is my
last opportunities to represent the Air Force as an active-duty member."
After over 29 years of service, Onufrak is ready to keep cycling and join the ranks of Air Force retired.
"I enjoyed serving on the Air Force team for my last time as an
active-duty member," the Chief said. "There is always an opportunity to
do this when I retire, but I think twice is enough for me."