TAG’s Grand Tour
It wasn’t quite the 19-stage Tour de France, but for five Gulfstream cyclists, a three-day jaunt through Europe came close.
The five were among dozens of cyclists pedaling as part of the TAG Aviation Airshow Challenge, a charity race benefiting fly2help (www.fly2help.org). The U.K.-based charity provides people living with a disability, illness, isolation or bereavement a VIP air experience centered on a short flight in a light aircraft as well as other airfield-based activities.
The Gulfstream team—one of nine that participated in the race—rode a total of 250 miles/402 kilometers from Le Bourget-Paris to Farnborough, arriving in the English town on July 14, the opening day of the Farnborough International Airshow.
“As a cyclist, to ride in Europe, including France, in July is like playing on center court at Wimbledon or running the bases during the World Series,” says Travis Karp, technical specialist, Sales Engineering, Gulfstream. “It’s a dream come true but also truly an honor representing the people of Gulfstream.”
Introduced for the first time this year, the race included teams from TAG, Gulfstream, Starflight, Cessna, JetEx and the Resource Group, with a goal of raising £50,000/US$84,000 for fly2help. The funding will enable fly2help to launch three new regional bases, potentially reaching hundreds of beneficiaries.
“We are hugely indebted to TAG Aviation as well as the other sponsors and, of course, the individual cyclists, who together are making an enormous contribution to fly2help,” says Felicia Willow, the organization’s CEO. “We expect that this funding will at least double the amount of people we can help in 2014-2015.”
Rebecca Johnson, Gulfstream’s regional vice president of Sales for central south Europe, pulled together the Gulfstream team, which consisted of Johnson; Karp; Jaime Bahamon, senior international demonstration captain; Ben Debry, manager, Technical Marketing; and Eric Parker, senior international demonstration captain. The team was supported during the event by Alan Head, a mechanical fitter based at Gulfstream’s Luton, England, facility. Head navigated Gulfstream’s new Field and Airborne Support Teams (FAST) van through the narrow streets of Paris, Rouen, Caen, Portsmouth and Farnborough to follow the team with drinks, food, equipment and tooling.
In the end, it took Gulfstream’s team of five cyclists just 14 hours and 41 minutes to ride the approximately 250 miles from Paris to Farnborough, the shortest time of all nine participating teams.
“I think we all had that competitive edge,” says cyclist Debry. “We all wanted to win.”
Indeed, Gulfstream had a considerable advantage, arriving 35 minutes ahead of the second team, Starflight. By comparison, the last team to finish did the challenge in 23 hours and 55 minutes.
“My favorite part of the ride was watching everyone complete it,” says Johnson. “It didn’t matter what bike they were on, what their fitness level was or how long it took; every single rider who started in Paris finished in London.”
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