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The Green Team

In a world full of chaos, turmoil and tragedy, it is refreshing to hear about people doing their part to make a difference in the world. The Green Team of the Bayou Country Cyclists rides extreme lengths to make south Louisiana aware of the importance of the environment. The team’s sole mission is not to hold titles or to win trophies, but to give back to the community and encourage others to become active members of society.

“Everything the Green Team does is for a cause,” says Cristiano
Raffignone, creator of the cycling group.

The Green Team was initially started to give members of the Bayou Country Cyclists more time to ride. “The group wasn’t riding as often as we wanted to, so that’s when we started the Green Team,” Cristiano says. When the group first started, about six members filled the roster; today, there are an outstanding 42 riders. The team is divided into different classes according to the cycler’s maximum speed to suit various groups of people. The team welcomes anyone from beginners to advanced riders.

The most advanced group is Group A, which cycles at 20 mph or more on flat terrain and must be able to reach speeds up to 30 mph. Group B, the intermediate group, cycles between 15 and 20 mph, while the beginner group, Group C, cycles between 10 and 14 mph. Members from many different lifestyles participate on the team, and all ages are encouraged to begin cycling. The team’s eldest member, Clayton Duplantis, is 67 years old and rides with Group B. The majority of riders are male, but the team hopes to increase its count of female riders. Two of the female riders, Danica Breaux and Natalie Lindsay, ride among the elite riders in Group A.

The Green Team rides every day beginning at daybreak, no matter the season. They have even ventured out in 32-degree weather. The main route the team travels is Bull Run Road, which connects to Highway 311. The route totals approximately 11 miles one way, and the team rides the road back and forth to create a 22-mile ride. On average, the cyclists ride 22 miles on weekdays and between 35 and 65 miles on the weekend, mostly along Highway 311. If they are training for a race, the team can be spotted riding around Lafayette, Madisonville or Mandeville.

“It’s really amazing,” Cristiano says. “It’s a lot of fun.”

The riders travel in large groups and wear bright colors to make sure drivers are aware of their presence. Many drivers do not realize that bikers have the same rights to be on the roads as they do. The fear of riding along with the traffic is one concern for riders, but the team typically rides on the side of the road to be safe.

“The only thing I’m concerned with is the danger of riding and people not being aware of us,” Cristiano says.

The public should become aware of the Green Team not only for the sake of safety, but also because the team is focused on making a difference in the world any way they can. The team chose its name based on its riders’ desire to create an environment for Houma. The team’s main focus is helping the community and being the healthiest people they can be.

“What I love about it most is that we’re all in the same frame of mind and taking care of our bodies,” Cristiano says. “It’s a great cardiovascular sport, and I enjoy being around nature.”

The most inspiring aspect of the Green Team is how they use their
accomplishments to help raise money for organizations in need. On April 18, the Bayou Country Cyclists held their 15th-annual “Cruisin’ the Bayou” in Thibodaux at Peltier Park. The walk-and-ride event offered 25, 42, 62 and 100-mile options. All benefits from the event supported the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in honor of the stepdaughter of the fundraiser’s organizer, Patrick Whetsal.

In April, a few members of the team also rode in the Ironman 70.3 race in New Orleans. The race consisted of a 56-mile ride, a 1-mile swim and a 13-mile run. Fifty percent of the group classify as tri-athletes. Members Jonathan Schultz, Natalie Lindsay and Brent Ragas have all competed in races of this dynamic.

The Green Team also does what it can to promote Bayou City Bicycles, a
locally owned business where the team’s riders purchase what they need to pursue their hobby.

The beauty of this cycling organization is how the group’s diverse members all join together for one purpose, which is to make a difference. It is not to prove to be the fastest cycler or to be the team that wins the most races; instead, their goal is to use something they love to help make their community a better place.