Falling for a good reason

Published 9:59 pm Saturday, February 24, 2018

Many of the riders and runners for the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure this April will probably take it easy after they finish their routes. But Mark Wilder and his friends have something else in mind.

The 52-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran works as a civilian in F-22 aircraft sustainment at Langley Air Force Base. He’s both an avid cyclist and skydiver with approximately 400 jumps under his belt.

“There’s a lady up by Richmond we call ‘the queen,’ and she’s got over 18,000 [jumps],” Wilder said in a phone interview. “Four hundred seems like a lot, but compared to others it’s not so much.”


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Wilder rides with Raptor101, one of the subsets of the Air Force Cycling Team. He and about a dozen others on his team will do the 100-mile route from the starting line at the Suffolk Executive Airport during the Tour de Cure.

Mark Wilder, a U.S. Air Force veteran, rides with the Air Force Cycling Team during the Tour de Cure. (submitted photo)

This will be the seventh year that he’s ridden in Tour. He said riders in the Air Force Cycling Team are required to complete a 100-mile ride before going to the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa in July, and Tour has been a great fit for that.

But now that the Tour is being held at the airport and not at King’s Fork High School as before, Wilder plans to partner with Skydive Suffolk to cross something else off his bucket list.

Along with several of his friends, Wilder will finish the 100-mile ride, then immediately get in a plane to jump from 13,500 feet in the air. He ideally wants to both jump solo and in a group of about 20 others in a formation known as a “big way.”

“I’ll probably jump three times if my legs don’t cramp too much,” he said.

He doesn’t stress about the dangers of jumping because of how much he does it. All he thinks about now are the exciting parts of the leap.

“I wish it was April 28 tomorrow so I can just check ‘riding a century then going for a jump’ off my list,” he said.

The 2018 Hampton Roads Tour de Cure will take place on April 28, beginning and ending at the Suffolk Executive Airport. The route options are 10, 25, 65 or 100 miles. There will also be a 5K run and walk for those that don’t wish to ride.

There is a $25 registration fee and a $200 fundraising minimum. The registration fee will go up to $30 on April 1. The fundraising goal is $450,000, and approximately $156,511 has been raised as of Friday.

Visit diabetes.org/hrtdc or call 424-6662 ext. 3269 for more information.