2nd Cavalry troops snapping up bikes at Vilseck
Stars and Stripes August 1, 2006
VILSECK, Germany — Bike builders here are working long hours to keep up with demand from 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment soldiers who are buying 100 bicycles a week.
Bike builder Brian Jansma, who works for Cycle Tech, the contractor that assembles bikes for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service at Vilseck, said three part-time staff members are working extra hours to assemble 30 bikes a day. The contractor is looking for more bike builders to help meet demand, he said.
Grafenwöhr consolidated exchange manager Matt Mennona said sales of bikes at Vilseck have increased tenfold since the Strykers started arriving two months ago. A total of 3,500 2nd Cav soldiers will be at Vilseck by October.
“We are selling something like 100 bikes a week. We are trying to keep up with Cycle Tech building them and us getting them out,” Mennona said.
More than half of the 2nd Cav soldiers quizzed at welcome groups intended to buy or use a bike while they were in Germany, he said.
“In Germany, bike riding is a way of life,” he added.
Bavaria has many dedicated bike trails that run alongside roads for vehicles and German cyclists can be seen riding through the countryside every day in summer.
In addition, many 2nd Cav soldiers are waiting for cars to arrive from the U.S., Mennona said.
“There are folks who didn’t send their cars out until the last minute,” he said.
Mennona said soldiers are buying all kinds of bikes, from cheap $99 models up to $300 and $400 bikes such as Fisher and Diamondback and even high-end bikes such as Cannondales.
Cycling appeals to younger soldiers as an economic way of getting around on post, he said.
“You have a younger crowd here. There are a lot of E-1s (privates), E-2s (private E2s) and E-3s (privates first class),” he said.
At Vilseck on Monday dozens of children’s bikes were lined up outside the PXtra sports store. Inside, the adult bikes were stacked two-high. And in the car park, soldiers were busy riding recently purchased bikes to lunch at the food court.
One of the riders, Pfc. Jake Belote, 23, of Jacksonville, N.C., arrived in Vilseck with the Strykers two months ago. A week and a half ago he bought a $90 Huffy Stalker from the PXtra, he said.
In the U.S., Belote has several vehicles including a Ford Mustang, a Toyota 4-Runner, a Ford Maverick and a Yamaha Maxim motorcycle, he said.
“I chose not to ship them. I’m not going to need a car. If I want to go somewhere I can take a bus. When I was younger I rode all the time. It’s fun,” he said.
Belote said he had signed up for a 330-kilometer bike trip next month with the Vilseck Outdoor Recreation Center.
To contact Cycle Tech about bike-building jobs, e-mail Jansma at firstname.lastname@example.org.