The Tour de Dilley: One NCO’s epic cycling adventure

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Caitlin Jones
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Every summer, pro bicyclists from around the world descend on Europe for the premier cycling race, the Tour de France.

The race is roughly 2,200 miles long, and while that may seem like an insurmountable distance, there's one non-commissioned officer here who did that and more in just 45 days with very little training.

"I got into [cycling] about six months before I did my ride," said Staff Sgt. Jerald Dilley, an instructor at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Airman Leadership School. "I figure if you're going to do something, go big or go home."

Dilley rode his bicycle from San Diego, Calif., to Jacksonville, Fla., a distance of more than 2,400 miles to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.

"I did a couple of centuries, or 100-mile rides, and I ride my bike back and forth to work every day," he said. "The more I read about [going cross-country], the more feasible the trip became. Just about anybody can do it if you have enough time and ambition. I set a date, November 6th, and told everyone about it so I couldn't back out."

Dilley rode most of the distance alone, riding 10-12 hours a day, and blogging about his adventure to raise awareness and support for the Wounded Warrior Project.

"I just thought it was a really great organization," he said. "We all wear the uniform, so there's not really a better charity that I can donate to. It hits close to home."

The excursion took exactly 45 days, and meant he had to appeal to his supervisor, Master Sgt. Sharon Christian, ALS Commandant, to give him enough leave to complete his mission. She admits she thought it was "crazy" but it was a testament to the type of Airman, and person, Dilley is.

"I feel he supported the Wounded Warrior Project because he wanted to help our brothers and sisters in arms," Christian said. "He's the kind of person that wants to look back on his life and say, 'I just didn't sit on the couch. I hope I made a difference.'"

Even though it's only been a few short months since his trip, he's already planning to get back on the road for another grueling journey.

"My next trip is going to be from Canada to Mexico on the Pacific Coast Highway, hopefully this summer," he said.

But wherever his bicycle takes him next, Dilley plans to pack the same drive and motivation that got him from one ocean to the other.

"Motivation definitely comes from that completion aspect," Dilley said. "I wanted to see the next beach. I told everyone I was going to do it and I had donations before the trip even started, and I felt like I couldn't let them down."