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Tinker Sailor trains for 143-mile bike ride

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class John Lewis trains daily for a 150-mile bike ride this fall. The event has not only helped him lose weight and become healthier but, “It’s an opportunity to help other people.” (Air Force photo by Kelly White)

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class John Lewis trains daily for a 150-mile bike ride this fall. The event has not only helped him lose weight and become healthier but, “It’s an opportunity to help other people.” (Air Force photo by Kelly White)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- It's not the Tour de France, but it's certainly more than a quick jaunt around the block.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class John Lewis is training for a 143-mile bike ride this fall.

The 33-year-old petty officer said he started riding a bicycle shortly after he arrived at TACAMO, where he works at Strategic Communications Wing One in flight line security.
During the nearly four years he was stationed at Guatánamo Bay, Cuba, Lewis befriended a fellow Sailor who left the Navy in 2011 and now is a police officer at Catoosa, Okla. "He got me into bike riding," the petty officer said.

When he arrived at Tinker last August, Petty Officer Lewis weighed 214 pounds, but by Thanksgiving -- after faithfully committing to a diet and a bike-riding regimen -- he had slimmed down to 159, having lost 55 pounds in four months. He said he has a diet program on his smartphone, via which "I keep track of everything I eat and drink each day." He avoids sodas and foods with high sugar or salt content. "I eat a lot of salads and chicken breasts," he said.

Lewis said his buddy from Guantánamo Bay persuaded him to join in a two-day "Mother Road" benefit bike ride Sept. 21-22.

On the first day, participants will ride from Chandler to Stillwater, eat lunch, then bike back to Chandler, an 82-mile round-trip. The petty officer said he will spend the night in Chandler or somewhere else nearby. The next day, the riders will start at Chandler for a 61.2-mile journey that will take them on a southern route along some older sections of Route 66 before ending at Prague.

"Every day is an opportunity for growth," the petty officer said. "You have to challenge yourself."

Lewis said he downloaded a training plan from the Internet, and rides one of his three bicycles daily to build up his stamina. Usually he rides on base, but on at least one occasion he traveled Sooner Road to the I-44/I-35 junction and back to his residence in base family housing.

Lewis, a native of St. Paul, Minn., said he has served in the Navy for 11 years, and military service is common in his family. Both of his grandfathers served in the Army, and his sister-in-law is stationed at Vance Air Force Base in Enid. The petty officer and his wife, Deannell, have two children: a son who turns 7 this month, and a 13-year-old daughter.