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Road leads cyclist to Air Force

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Focused on the road ahead, Airman 1st Class Michael Necessary, a 30th Medical Operations Squadron technician, competes in a base-held triathlon here Aug. 15. Airman Necessary raced collegiately at Illinois State University from 2001-2005. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Lee)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Focused on the road ahead, Airman 1st Class Michael Necessary, a 30th Medical Operations Squadron technician, competes in a base-held triathlon here Aug. 15. Airman Necessary raced collegiately at Illinois State University from 2001-2005. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Lee)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Both legs bearing down on pedals, a cyclist fights through the pain and exhaustion felt as he ascends a steep, meandering hillside. Reaching the summit, he unzips his cycling jersey and wipes the encroaching sweat from his eyes. His sight now fixated beyond the edges of the cliff ahead, he finds reward in the natural surroundings for the physical hardships endured as he watches a dancing sun glisten over the Mediterranean Sea.

This cycling trip in Spain is just one of the many memories that strongly reinforce Airman 1st Class Michael Necessary's passion for the sport.

The 30th Medical Operations Squadron technician started his competitive cycling journey during his college years at Illinois State University.

During the spring of 2001, he was approached by members of the school's cycling club. Being competitive by nature, Airman Necessary quickly began training and riding with his new team.

"It didn't matter how good you were, it was all about getting out and riding," Airman Necessary said. "My teammates took me under their wings and showed me the ropes in becoming a true cyclist."

Coinciding with Airman Necessary's new found interest, news began to circulate about an American road racing cyclist named Lance Armstrong, who had just won his third consecutive Tour de France competition.

The Tour de France is a strenuous, three-week annual race that challenges riders to cover approximately 2,200 miles throughout France and other bordering countries.

Long distance races like the Tour de France fueled the 26-year-old's competitive drive as a cyclist, he said. As his cycling skills and endurance increased, he aggressively sought out races to enter throughout the United States as well as in Mexico, Spain, England and France.

Lance Armstrong, who was also seeking victories in France, continued his winning streak and became the first person to obtain seven consecutive Tour de France wins in 2005. Impressive as his success was, he managed this accomplishment under severe limitations - he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Never letting his cancer get in the way of his dreams, Armstrong quickly became a national icon and hero to his followers, one of which was Airman Necessary.

"Lance's amazing story made me realize the importance of being passionate about something," said the Illinois native. "His story goes to show that there are people who have a harder life than you do, so I try to make the most of my life by giving it my all."

From 2004 to 2008, Airman Necessary competed in approximately 50 United States National Racing Calendar races. With each race spanning the distance of 100 miles, he held his own against some of the best cyclists in the U.S., enjoying every second of it.

Other than the tan lines, chiseled legs and podium girls that are a synopsis of his racing days, Airman Necessary's true draw to cycling was the accomplishment of getting out on his bike and "testing himself," he said.

As a new college graduate, Airman Necessary sought a place of employment that would fuse some of the same life lessons he had learned from the sport of cycling. A career solution unveiled itself in front of his eyes one night while he watched the news.

"I saw imagery of innocent women and children being adversely affected by the conflicts overseas," Airman Necessary said. "When I saw the news, I wanted to be there to help. At that point, it didn't take me long before joining the Air Force in hopes for a job in the field of medicine."

Today, as one of Vandenberg's medical technicians, Airman Necessary continues to channel his passions for life by benefitting the patients he helps at the 30th Medical Group. Working with his patients fulfills the same sense of accomplishment he feels when doing the one thing he is most passionate about - cycling.