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Friday, October 03, 2008

Military Cyclists Ride in 20th Annual Sea Gull Century

SALISBURY, MD---At least two branches of the United States military will be represented at Salisbury University’s Sea Gull Century on Saturday, October 4.

Some 13 riders associated with the U.S. Naval Academy’s Cycling Club are biking, as well as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force who just last week returned to the U.S. after spending 40 days in Afghanistan.

“This is the first year the cycling club has ridden the Sea Gull Century as an organized group,” said Coach Shelly Whisenhant. “The fact that it’s such a flat course is good for this time in the season. Many of them do military training during the summer and don’t have opportunity to ride, so doing 100 miles in the mountains would be kind of tough for them now!"

Riding for the Naval Academy (and proudly wearing its white, blue and gold jerseys) are assistant coaches Roy Collins and Jerry Chapmon; officer representative Mickey Thaxton; and team members Andrew Christian, Chuck Jones, Charles Kreuzberger, Peggy Legrand, Carolyn Horiye and Jacob Roche.  Two father-son duos are also riding:  officer representative Dan Schindler with his son, Andrew, and junior Zach Huff with his father, Tom, who heads the team’s booster club.

“The ride will benefit us with some great fellowship, great base miles early in the season and a chance to get out and meet some wonderful new people that enjoy the same sport we do,” said Kreuzberger, a senior from Walhalla, SC.

Christian, who initially got interested in cycling after racing mountain bikes in high school in Park City, UT, said the Century gives the team a break from their usual routes in Annapolis, Davidsonville and the surrounding countryside.  “Longer rides with more people are always fun,” he said.  “It changes things up to train somewhere else and see new things.” 

The 25-member club competes in the Atlantic Cycling Conference against such schools as Virginia Tech and University of Virginia.  It is consistently one of the top teams in the ACC.

Whisenhant said the team typically spends two to three months putting a lot of miles on their bikes to build endurance-then working to build speed.  The season lasts from February to May and they race multiple stage events nearly every weekend.

“This team has really come together in terms of camaraderie during the last two seasons,” she said.  “Most of them hang out together on and off the bike.  They see the Sea Gull Century as a team building opportunity.”

Also planning to bike in this year’s century is U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Mike “Starbaby” Pietrucha, who lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Linda.  Pietrucha is a 2006 Sea Gull Century rider who last year completed two half-centuries through the Victory Base Complex in Baghdad where he was stationed for five months-an event he dubbed “Sea Gull Century East.”

“I ride everywhere I can overseas,” he said.  “Recently, that includes the Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan and Baghdad.  In the past that has included Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Wales, England, Germany and the Alps in northern Italy.  When at the base, I ride every day the weather permits for physical training and for basic transportation.”

At SU, Pietrucha will ride a Cannondale with a red, white and blue stars-and-bars paint scheme.  He gave away both his Baghdad bike (a German Fischer psuedo-mountain bike that was partially rebuilt after taking damage from a 240mm rocket) and his Afghan bike (a Swiss-designed mountain bike) before leaving those countries.

For more information call 410-548-2772 or visit the Sea Gull Century Web site at www.seagullcentury.org.      



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