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Monday, July 23, 2012

Tennessee Air National Guard Forms a New Cycling Team

Tennessee Air National Guard Forms a New Cycling Team
By:  CMSgt Michael G. Lander
This article was originally written on August 4, 2009

Members of the Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team.  From left to right are Capt Keith Ashford, MSgt Wayne Knight, MSgt Malcolm Gilbert, SMSgt Deanne Davis, MSgt Mary Keenan, SSgt David Cooper, Capt Brian Gordon, Corey Wampler, and CMSgt Michael Lander.  Those not pictured include SSgt Terrence Bronson and TSgt Jonathan "Turtle" Tweel.
Since 1947, the Tennessee Air National Guard has had a very proud history in which it has had its members mobilize and deploy while also providing airlift support for emergency relief as well as for military operations and various contingencies over the years.  While several individuals live outside the Memphis metropolitan area, most of the unit members live in and around the city of Memphis and are an integral part of the local community.

Even with the military commitments that sometimes takes it's members to many different places around the world, many of them are always interested in doing things for the local Memphis community as well.  This is one of the main reasons that they formed a new cycling team composed of cycling enthusiasts from the unit who love to ride and who want to do so for one or more charitable organizations. 

Although the new Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team plans have been to eventually do various charity rides in the future, their main goal for this year is to prepare for and to participate in a 150-mile bike ride on 12 – 13  September 2009 to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS).  This two-day cycling event is sponsored by Federal Express and is known as the “Fed Ex Rock-n-Roll” MS-150 bike ride.

As of this date, there are nineteen (19) individuals who have joined the Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team and the team captain, MSgt Deanne Davis, hopes to have as many as twenty people sign up for it before the ride starts in September.  It is open to anyone assigned to the unit, their family members, and any retirees who are interested in cycling. 

The two-day ride will begin at Graceland and will travel through North Mississippi, ending up at Harrah’s Casino in Tunica for the night.  The route for the second day will start at the entranceway to the casino and will end up back at Graceland the following day.  Each day, the riders will do about 75 miles with rest stops about every 10 miles along their 150-mile trek where they are greeted by cheers from volunteers and where they have an opportunity to take a break, grab a quick bite to eat, refill their water bottles. 

Most of the individuals on this newly-created cycling team will tell you that having a Guard cycling team, that does charity rides, will present a positive image to the local community.  Some of them also see that it will likely help in recruiting efforts and also see this as an opportunity to help each of them in staying in shape and remaining physically fit themselves. 

Beyond all of that, however, most of the cyclists are primarily motivated to participate in this upcoming 150-mile bike ride for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society because they either have friends, acquaintances, or family members who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. 

As many previous participants in this event will tell you, when you can associate this ride with a name and a face of someone that you know who has MS, you can not help but give everything that you can toward the cause.

In the United States, there are 400,000 people who have been diagnosed with MS and for those who have this dreaded disease, they often live a life of unpredictability and uncertainty of how the disease is going to manifest itself in their lives.  For some, they may remain symptom-free for long periods of time, while others are not as fortunate and may quickly lose their ability to walk or to see.  When it comes to MS, until there is a cure, the only sure thing that any of us can count on is that another person is going to be diagnosed with it every hour of every day. 

Perhaps through the fund-raising efforts like the 150-mile bike ride that the Tennessee Air National Guard team is participating in, it will one day help to bring about an end to MS once and for all.

Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team Rides for American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life"

Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team Rides for American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life"
By:  Michael G. Lander
This article was originally written on January 28, 2011.

Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team riding for "Relay for Life" in honor of Sherry Boyer Simmons.  From left to right:  Col Harry D. Montgomery, Jr., SSgt Kim Jones, MSgt David Joachim, Wendy Joachim, TSgt Chris Kubitz, (Retired CMSgt) Michael Lander, SSgt Efrem "Mo" Mosely, SMSgt Deanne Davis, and MSgt Kim Moore.
Most of us have been touched in one way or another by what cancer has done to one or more of those who we know and love.  The Tennessee Air National Guard (TNANG) decided it would organize a ride on behalf of their friend Sherry Boyer Simmons after she was diagnosed with this disease.

Initially the idea for the ride, scheduled for Saturday, October 16, 2010, in Rossville, Tenn., was meant to show Sherry the love and support that she had from her many friends, but unfortunately, she did not live but 32 days from the time that she was diagnosed to the time that she ultimately lost her battle with this disease."
Sherry was a very special person who enthusiastically embraced life and all of those around her and she was extremely committed to the Tennessee Air National Guard.

In March 2010, she was recognized for all of her efforts when she received the Tennessee National Guard Distinguished Patriot Medal at a combined National Guard and Enlisted Association of Tennessee conference in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  It was very obvious to the hundreds of servicemen and women in the audience that night, that it meant everything in the world to Sherry when she received this medal.  As she tearfully accepted the medal, she spoke openly and sincerely of her love for the unit and for those in it. She spoke of her father’s service to the unit, her husband’s, and her two sons who had themselves recently enlisted. 

Instead of abandoning the idea of a ride after the loss of their friend, the cycling team chose instead to do a "Sherry Boyer Simmons Memorial Bike Ride" to celebrate and honor the memory of Simmons. To help others avoid a fate similar to Sherry’s, the team vowed to solicit pledges and donations to be donated to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Desoto County, Mississippi where she and her family lived.
Members of the team rode as many as 45 miles on an unseasonably cold October morning for their fallen friend.

Along for the ride that day were cyclists SMSgt Deanne Davis, MSgt David Joachim, MSgt Kim Moore and SSgt Kim Jones.  TSgt Chris Kubitz, SSgt Efrem "Mo" Moseley and Wendy Joachim provided support to the riders and the 164th Airlift Wing Commander, Col Harry D. Montgomery, Jr., was there to thank each of them and to see the cyclists off as they rode out.

On Tuesday, January 25, 2011, I presented a check to the American Cancer Society "Relay for Life" of Desoto County, Mississippi for $1,200.00 on behalf of the TNANG Cycling Team.  As I said at Relay for Life event, "It was a great feeling for our cycling team to be able to support such a great cause and it was one of the main reasons that many of us got into cycling in the first place."

The unit's cycling team was established in April 2009 after I had developed a passion for the sport and was eager to share my love for it with others.  More than anything, however, I saw this as an opportunity for the base to ride for various charitable organizations, to promote fitness, and to present a positive image of the TNANG unit to the local community. Since 2009, one or more members of the team has ridden for charities both locally and nationally including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center, and the Wounded Warrior Project.

While members of the team have many duties and military-related commitments that sometimes make it difficult for them to be able to train and to consistently ride their bikes, their interest in riding for charitable causes remains strong.  This is especially true for causes like the American Cancer Society and Sherry would be happy to know that we are doing this and that she has been the inspiration for us to do something good for others.

Relay for Life is the signature fundraising event of the American Cancer Society.  It began in 1985 and has developed into a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and to fight back against an often deadly disease. 

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those with cancer will be supported, and that one day cancer will be eliminated. 
To get involved with Relay for Life of Desoto County, Miss, you can email

For more information on Relay for Life, or the American Cancer Society,  you can call 1-800-ACS-2345 or you can go to

Retired CMSgt Michael Lander, on the right, presenting a check on behalf of the Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team to the American Cancer Society "Relay for Life" on January 25, 2011.  Receiving this check for the American Cancer Society is retired SMSgt Harry Grubbs.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Cruzbike Silvio - A bicycle for those looking for something a little different

The Cruzbike Silvio - A bicycle for those looking for something a little different
By:  Michael Lander

Valerie Hasso, 49, of Memphis with her Cruzer Silvio bike.
If you're looking for a different kind of bike, the Cruzbike Silvio might be exactly what you're looking for.  While most people would say that this bike is a recumbent, Valerie Hasso, 49,  of Memphis, sees it as being a cross between a recumbent and a diamond framed road bike.  She bought hers in March 2012. 

What makes this bike so unique, she said, is that it is the only front wheel drive, moving bottom bracket in production whereas most recumbents are usually rear wheel driven.

Even though most cyclists gravitate toward the traditional, conventional style of bikes, Hasso was intrigued by the Cruzbike Silvio and, after a test ride of the Aerobic Cruiser electric bicycle, she said that she was immediately hooked by what she described as the crazy world of bent bikes.   Since then, she has developed an even greater appreciation of what her new bike has to offer. 

Among its many features, Hasso especially likes the positioning of her body on the bike and that it reduces discomfort in the saddle and groin as well as alleviating pressure and numbness in the hands that are often experienced by cyclists riding on more conventional bike frames.

Because of the Cruzbike Silvio's design, Hasso claims that the bike is also more aerodynamic and that she is able to better utilize more of her upper body muscles as well to help her increase and then maintain her speed. 

From a reclined position, Hasso said that she can also better sustain her speed for a longer period of time without the same amount of fatigue that she experienced on other bikes.  For her,  it is also a better full-body workout, without the same amount of discomfort and decreased potential for an accident or an injury that is often associated with a conventional, diamond framed bicycle.

Hasso's Cruzbike Silvio uses all standard road bike components so it has been easy for her to find parts.  The length of her chain is also the same as an upright race bike so she said that she gets immediate power transfer and no frame flex. 

Most recumbents, she said, have extremely long chains since the gears are in the back and the pedals are in the front, which increases weight and necessitates idlers that increase resistance.  As for the drive train, she expects that it will last longer and will stay cleaner than on other bikes since the front wheel will not be kicking up sand and other debris onto the rear wheel drive trains. 

Even though the bike has its advantages, Hasso readily admits that it did take her about three months to acclimate herself to her new bike.  While balance was never an issue for her, it did take some time for her to get used to the weight of the drive train on the front wheel and with trying to steer and pedal it at the same time. 

She said that "my legs seemed to be in competition with my arms for control over the direction of travel."  She admittedly was tense and wanted to propel herself forward, but she felt like her arms were not cooperating.  It was also a new concept for her to have her pedals over two feet above the ground and in front of her verses having them below her.  It was also an adjustment for her to be in a reclined position, but watching a YouTube video, and thinking about herself as riding a "Wiggly Weasel," did seem to help. 

Hasso said that reactions that she gets to her Cruzbike Silvio are mostly positive and that she is often greeted with smiles or with what she said are "stares of amazement."  She does get asked if she has an injury that prompted her to get this bike, which is not the case and when asked about the comfort level, she says, "Yes, very.  It is sort of like being on a chase lounge by the beach."

Despite the fact that she has not yet seen any bike that was exactly the same model as hers, it is probably only a matter of time before she does.  For those interested in learning more about the Cruzbike Silvio, you can go to,,, or by signing up & going to the forum of