SEMBACH Germany -- When U.S. Army Installation Management Command - Europe announced its 2020 1,000 Kilometer Biking Club program in early June, one highly motivated dental Soldier stationed at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy did not hesitate to sign up.
Sgt. First Class DavidAllan Doan, the senior enlisted advisor to Dental Activity Italy, signed up for the program immediately. Doan completed the 1,000 kilometers in just 19 days, and he did it on a mountain bike.
What motivates someone to ride their bike 1,000 kilometers?
“USAG-Italy announced this event during COVID-19 with limited movement at the time,” said Doan. “I really wanted to do a bike challenge before I left Europe. It was something new that I could challenge myself physically during COVID-19, and was a great opportunity for me to do my first long distance bike ride in Europe.”
Prior to taking on this challenge, Doan had limited biking experience.
“I started riding a bike in March 2019 when I had to move off-post,” Doan added. “My work was only one mile away, so instead of driving, I bought a mountain bike. With only one year of riding experience, I am still learning about cycling. This past year I learned so much and I am grateful to have wonderful co-workers who are also into cycling and share their experiences.”
As the senior enlisted advisor for Dental Activity Italy, Doan’s primary duty is to advise the commander on all enlisted matters to include; unit readiness, morale, health, welfare, training, and safety of its 35 assigned Soldiers.
Dental Activity Italy enables expeditionary medical readiness through competent, efficient, and empathetic delivery of oral health care to the Soldiers and Families of the greater Vicenza Military Community.
Riding a bicycle 1,000 kilometers is no easy task.
“The biggest challenge I faced personally, was finding the time and going up hills,” said Doan. “I wondered if I would have enough time to complete the 1,000 kilometers before I PCS’d to Korea. My original goal was to try to complete the challenge by August 1. Once I discovered a safe bike route and realized that I could do 64 to 81 kilometers in one day, I started to calculate how many days it would take me to complete 1,000 kilometers. I was determined that I was going to keep my cycling schedule.”
Late working hours did not deter Doan from reaching his goal.
“There were several days that I had to work late, but I was determined to meet my daily goals,” Doan added. “I would do an extra hour in the morning before work, or two extra hours after work. I was surprised that it only took me 19 days to complete. I’ve never done anything like this before and it was a personal accomplishment for me.”
This cycling event strengthened Doan’s mental, physical and leadership skills.
“This experience really helped me physically and mentally,” said Doan. “As the senior enlisted advisor for DENTAC-Italy, I have a lot of responsibilities and the job can be very stressful. Riding my bike is a way to relax my mind and take a break from the daily hustle that causes stress.”
“Cycling allowed me to curb these stressors and, as a result, it made me a better leader,” added Doan. “I shared my experiences with my Soldiers and emphasized the benefits of finding something fun to do, something that reduces stress in their lives and benefits their overall state of mind.”
Cycling also provided Doan an opportunity to experience local culture and scenery.
“Cycling through the different towns and villages in Italy was a great experience and the scenery was so amazing,” said Doan. “The towns I rode through were Vicenza, Castegnero, Ponte di Mossano, Noventa Vicentina, Cicogna, and Montagnana. I definitely got to experience the Italian culture, the people, and discovered many great places to eat.”
Safety is critical when riding a bike.
“I always ride with my helmet, eye protection, gloves, and I wear bright reflective clothing,” Doan added. “I can’t stress enough to all those who ride bikes to wear your PPE. The route that I chose was dedicated to walking/running/biking only and was separate from the main roadway. Overall, it was relatively safe but you never know what might happen.”