Eifel to Eiffel challenges Airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kyle Gese
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Thirteen people from Spangdahlem Air Base, Brussels and Geilenkirchen rode their bicycles 290 miles across Europe May 8-10, 2014.

There were two groups of riders, one started in Echternacherbrueck and the other at Spangdahlem. The two groups eventually met up and finished together at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

"Before I left Europe, I wanted to make my dream a reality," said U.S. Air Force Col. David Julazadeh, 52nd Fighter Wing commander from Chillicothe, Ill., "I realized that I may never have an opportunity again. This trip was truly a dream come true."

Julazadeh dreamt about riding his bicycle across Europe since he was 17. He started cycling at age 12 and racing at 14. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1990 and became an F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilot. He is now the commander of the 52nd Fighter wing, but his time at Spangdahlem is quickly running out due to a new assignment.

Julazadeh began talking to other cycling enthusiasts who were also interested in riding across Europe. They then came up with the idea to ride to Paris from the Eifel region and so the name "Eifel to Eiffel" was born. The concept of comprehensive Airmen fitness inspired them to ride and train together. Their interest was picked up by the bases, outdoor recreation office, and the coordination began. Once the plan was finalized, it ran in conjunction with National Fitness Month.

A few months later, they were on their bikes traveling hundreds of miles through rain, wind and hills that would challenge them. However, that never deterred this group from reaching the finish line. On day three, they rode their bikes underneath the Eiffel Tower, completing their 290 mile trip.

"We were a team," Julazadeh said. "We broke up into two or three groups, based on skill level, for most of the ride. On day three, we rejoined on the outskirts of Paris and finished together. Despite the strong headwinds, driving rain and crazy Paris traffic, we crossed through some of the most beautiful areas of four different countries. It was an amazing ride."

Day one presented a few setbacks and challenges, but throughout the trip the riders worked better and better as a team and overcame obstacles together.

"It was raining, they were cold and they were all ready to give up," said Robert Taylor, 52nd Force Support Squadron outdoor recreation staff member from Pittsburg . "After five minutes of getting warm, one person was like 'I've come this far, I'm not going to quit now.'" That cyclist started a chain reaction and the rest of the riders followed proving the effect of wingman motivation.

For more information about upcoming bicycle rides, call the outdoor recreation office at DSN 452-7170 or 06565-61-7170.