Great Lakes Challenge Makes a Strong Finish at the Legion Convention

With a flatter course than yesterday and everyone excited about the Packer's game, Day 4 was a fast day in the saddle. The group made it all the way to Lambeau Field in under 5 1/2 hours of riding time! (Photo courtesy of Ride 2 Recovery Facebook page)

Wounded cyclists, and others who joined them in support, traveled from Wasau to Green Bay to Sheboygen and – finally – to Milwaukee for the second half of Ride 2 Recovery’s “Great Lakes Challenge.” As usual, riders new and experienced shared powerful stories of healing and transformation through the experience.

As reported by the Green Bay Press Gazette: “Rider Jen Dreizehn, a 15-year military veteran, has not only been riding with her biking family, but also seeing her real family in her first trip back to Wisconsin over that time. Her family cheered her along at several stops on Thursday and planned to attend the Green Bay Packers game with her.

The Shawano native, who grew up in Mountain, is stationed with the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Eustis, Va.  ‘I haven’t ridden a bike since I was 12 years old, so this has just been great and a real challenge,’ Dreizehn said. ‘Challenge is definitely the word to use. I’m really glad I did it.'”

The final day of the Great Lakes Challenge saw the cyclists heading into Milwaukee, and then riding in the American Legion parade. (Photo courtesy of Ride 2 Recovery Facebook page)

The final day of the ride was especially poignant, as the group greeted attendees at the The 92nd Annual American Legion National Convention and later participated in a parade.  Marty Callahan reported the following: “About 50 cyclists – veterans and servicemembers – arrived in Milwaukee Aug. 28 at The American Legion National Convention, completing a six-day, 426-mile journey from Minneapolis. The cyclists are part of the national Ride 2 Recovery program that helps veterans overcome their wounds and inspire others to do the same.

‘This kind of event does tremendous things for the mental and physical rehabilitation of the wounded warriors,’ said John Wordin, founder and president of Ride 2 Recovery. ‘Whatever kind of injury they may have – amputations, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, PTSD – cycling helps them to recover. Events like this create such a bond and camaraderie – it’s a great group therapy session.'”

Click here to watch as the cyclists enter the convention, and check out a great video clip from WLUK-TV below!

Ride 2 Recovery’s Great Lakes Challenge

From August 23 to August 28, 120 cyclists are taking part in Ride 2 Recovery‘s Great Lakes Challenge, which kicked-off from the headquarters of presenting sponsor United Healthcare in Edina, MN.  The ride will culminate at the National American Legion Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This group of wounded veterans, and the supporters who ride along with them, includes many new riders.  Among them is Nathan DeWalt, a member of the Navy who was paralyzed recently when a car struck him during Navy Seal training. He had his first handcycle ride since his accident and was thrilled with the participation and was mentored by R2R’s Spokesman Nathan Hunt during the ride. He can’t wait to get his new custom handcycle for future R2R events.

Nathan DeWalt quickly masters his handcycle and shares a smile on the way to the Minnesota State Capital. (Photo courtesy of Ride 2 Recovery's Facebook page)

Day two found the cyclists traveling from Hudson to Chippewa Falls, with the following maxim to spur them on: ‎​If you want to ride with the big dogs you can’t bark like a puppy.  If you want to swim with the big fish, you can’t splash like a guppy!

From one of the riders: “Today was one of those days that let you know why cycling is one of the greatest ways to spend time with friends. And if you happen to be doing a Ride 2 Recovery rehab event, it is a great way to share that experience with your fellow Injured Veterans.  With temps in the low 70’s and the wind blowing at the backs of the group at 30 mph, we knew from the start that the 75 mile, mostly flat ride was going to be really fun.

The route took us from Hudson to Chippewa Falls via the towns of Menomonie, Elk Mound, Eau Claire and into Chippewa Falls. The group stayed mostly together for the entire ride with the help of the Legion Riders. The new riders are having a great time and everyone was laughing and joking with each other the entire day…”

Riders are never alone, as numerous folks ride along, cheer with encouraging words or - as in the case of this motorcyclist - lead the way with flags proudly flying. (USO photo courtesy of Ride 2 Recovery Facebook page)

Day three arrived with  3300 feet of climbing ahead of the cyclists; luckily, it was an unusually cool day with a tailwind to boot.  The ride continues today with Gen. Gary Cheek, commander of the Warrior Transition Command passing the torch to Darryl Williams. Gen. Cheek has been a great friend to Ride 2 Recovery, participating in several rides for the past 2 years.  Together, Ride 2 Recovery has grown within the WTU system benefiting a lot of injured veterans and the launch of the Warrior Games. We wish him great success with his new assignment and while his shoes are going to be tough to fill, we look forward to seeing Darryl out on a ride very soon….

It's all about teamwork as experienced riders help out the newbies, and anybody who needs an extra push knows there a set of hands there to help. (Photo courtesy of Ride 2 Recovery Facebook page)