On Memorial Day, May 27, senior leaders from Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, rode the first leg of a Ride 2 Recovery (R2R) event known as the Memorial Challenge during which more than 200 injured veterans will complete a 350-mile bicycle ride from Washington, D.C., to Virginia Beach, Va.
“It is an honor and a privilege to spend Memorial Day in the company of true warriors,” Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, USACE commander, told the group that started the ride at the U.S. Capitol Building. “The only thing better is that I get to spend it in the saddle of my bike, drafting behind the shoulders that have borne the heavy burden of war for the past 10 years.”
Bostick, an avid triathlete, rode with the group 42 miles from the Capitol Building to the Courtyard Marriott in Manassas, Va. Other riders included retired Gen. George Casey Jr., former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army; Lt. Col. Marc Hoffmeister, executive officer of USACE; and his wife Gayle Hoffmeister.
The rest of the ride will take the group through Virginia to Virginia Beach from May 27 to June 2, with stops in Fredericksburg, Richmond, Williamsburg and Norfolk.
“After 35 years of service, I’ve had my share of broken body parts and it has taught me the value of fitness that enabled me to endure, both physically and mentally,” Bostick said. “From what I’ve learned about Ride 2 Recovery, you are each on the right path, and I commend all of you for committing to this challenge of recovery and rediscovery. I wish I had the entire week to share with you, but I am very excited to join your ranks, even if only for one day.”
Ride 2 Recovery began in 2008 when a recreational therapist with the Veterans Administration (VA) thought that bicycling would be good therapy in rehabilitation programs for posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and physical injuries. John Wordin, former manager of the Mercury Cycling Team, organized the first R2R in Washington, D.C., with 14 riders and no staff. It has evolved into seven rides annually, each with about 200 riders and 20-plus staff riding 350-500 miles. Wordin also took part in the ride that Bostick and the Hoffmeisters joined.
Most of the cyclists are part of the R2R Project HERO (Hospital Exercise Rehabilitation Opportunity) program at a Warrior Transition Unit or VA hospital where they are using cycling to aid rehabilitation. Cyclists ride 45 to 100 miles per day, rain or shine, for six or seven consecutive days. They ride a variety of road bikes, hand cycles, recumbents and tandems, many modified to accommodate injuries.
“It was amazing to see the camaraderie, teamwork, and drive of these warriors,” Bostick wrote in his weekly report to the Secretary of the Army. “There were double-arm and double-leg amputees and many other types of injuries among the wounded warriors in the group. Much credit to them, their families and friends, and the Ride 2 Recovery team. It was an honor and a great privilege to ride with them.”