R2R Memorial Ride Day 3

Riders of Ride 2 Recovery move through the final miles of the 62 mile trek from Fredericksburg, Virginia to Glen Allen, Virginia.
Riders of Ride 2 Recovery move through the final miles of the 62 mile trek from Fredericksburg, Virginia to Glen Allen, Virginia.

Sixty-two miles, 90 degree heat, numerous towns and amazing people are elements of today’s ride. I am finding it so difficult to really put my feelings into words.

As I’ve stated in an earlier post, as a veteran I do not expect any of this, but my heart is so very thankful that I have been blessed with these experiences.

Today I was able to join an awesome group of veterans ride, that for many is a personal record for a single-ride distance, as well as ride with a silver medal U.S. Olympic cyclist! That’s right … I got to ride with Dotsie Bausch of the 2012 Women’s

Riders of Ride 2 Recovery move through the final miles of the 62 mile trek from Fredericksburg, Virginia to Glen Allen, Virginia.
Riders of Ride 2 Recovery move through the final miles of the 62 mile trek from Fredericksburg, Virginia to Glen Allen, Virginia.

Olympic Cycling Team.  If that wasn’t cool enough, at the end of the long ride, we did a racing clinic with her. All I can think right now is “OMG”!!!

The adventure started in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and we rode through small towns on small side roads, passing horses, farming fields, families watching and waving, school children and teachers and other passersby. With the brightly shining sun, we rode through 90 degree heat, drinking loads of electrolytes and water as well as enjoyed another lunch provided by the USO.

Riders of Ride 2 Recovery move through the the 62 mile trek from Fredericksburg, Virginia to Glen Allen, Virginia.
Riders of Ride 2 Recovery move through the the 62 mile trek from Fredericksburg, Virginia to Glen Allen, Virginia.

Although yesterday I rode with D group, the least experienced riders, today I joined C group. Although the pace was a little faster, it was fun to chat and laugh through the 4 hour ride. We may be riding, but we are still socializing and having a blast. I’m debating a B group ride Friday. We’ll see how I feel come Friday!

So, the 62 miles I rode today were not the most I’ve done in a day, adding the  6 miles on with the race clinic pushed me 2 miles further than my single-day distance record.

Me!
Me!

Tomorrow we will ride from Glen Allen to Williamsburg, Virginia where I get a double present. My parents live nearby and I’ll get to see them! I am also looking at maybe doing my first century ride. Again, I’ll make that determination tomorrow based on how I feel.

For today, you can see many more photos on Facebook at Ride 2 Recovery. Like the page and enjoy the ride!

#R2RMemorialChallenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ride 2 Recover Memorial Ride

As I sit here physically exhausted, I reflect on the day I’ve had. It started early this morning with prepping my bicycle and gear and lead to the ride brief. Although I ride quite a bit at home, this wasn’t like the others. I wasn’t in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Instead, I was with Ride 2 Recovery in Manassas, Virginia. This was day two for them, but my first day. Day one involved a visit to Vice President Joe Biden’s house. How cool is that!

Scott Thuman @ABC7Scott Now THAT's a #selfie! @JoeBiden takes his own group photo w/ @Ride_2_Recovery. I ride-along tonight on @ABC7News
Photo Courtesy of Scott Thuman @ABC7Scott
via Twitter: Now THAT’s a #selfie! @JoeBiden takes his own group photo w/ @Ride_2_Recovery. I ride-along tonight on @ABC7News

So, for day two, the entire 51.6-mile ride to Fredericksburg, Virginia was beautiful. We were also escorted by police. They did a fantastic job stopping traffic so we could get through intersections and make turns on the route. At miles 13 and 32 were stops for snacks and lunch, fully supported by sponsors such as the USO.

Now, logistics with any ride take planning, but with these challenges, it’s not just one route on one day. It’s a week-long adventure that starts in Washington, D.C. and ends in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The riders, some using hand cycles or others on recumbent bicycles while the rest ride traditional bicycles, rode proudly.  Many of these wounded warriors ride with scars visible and invisible.  Their injuries don’t matter here, though. We are a group, a team, just as we were during our time in service. Whether in the most competitive A group or the more beginner D group, we stick together. Here everyone is outside, pedaling to the next mile under the bright sunny sky.

We saw school children and gave hi-fives as we rode through the school parking lot, a well as passed families in their yards.

Photo Courtesy of Katie Martyn Delco Ride 2 Recovery rolling through Bristow on the way out of Manassas May 27.
Photo Courtesy of Katie Martyn Delco
Ride 2 Recovery rolling through Bristow on the way out of Manassas May 27.

As I’ve said in my previous posts, I feel so incredibly honored to ride among these people. Today was incredible. The route wasn’t especially difficult, but the camaraderie was unmatched.

Photo Courtesy of Katie Martyn Delco Ride 2 Recovery rolling through Bristow on the way out of Manassas May 27.
Photo Courtesy of Katie Martyn Delco Ride 2 Recovery rolling through Bristow on the way out of Manassas May 27.
Photo Courtesy of Katie Martyn Delco
Ride 2 Recovery rolling through Bristow on the way out of Manassas May 27.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find more photos using the hashtag #R2Rmemorialchallenge. I will post more through the week.

For today, keep pedaling.

Cycling tid-bits for those starting out

I am so thankful for my readers’ support and the stories of people who are beginning their cycling endeavors. I thought I’d add some tips I’ve learned to help make the sport even more fun.

The handle bars, drop positioning and seat have all been adjusted for my specific fit.
The handle bars, drop positioning and seat have all been adjusted for my specific fit.

First, whether you have a bike from a local retail store or you’ve invested in a higher-end quality bicycle, get fitted. The benefits can be the difference between enjoying or hating the sport all together. I found a blog with in-depth information on just this subject.

This riser was added to my handlebar to bring them higher and closer to me.
This riser was added to my handlebar to bring them higher and closer to me.

I can tell you from personal experience, that I had to raise my handlebars because my hands were going numb about 5 miles into my ride and didn’t let up until I was done. Since I like riding 30+ miles, that wasn’t going to work. I also had to raise my seat and it’s set as far forward as it can go. I am short, so my 48 cm bicycle is meant for my frame, but since my legs are longer in proportion to my torso and arms, I needed to be closer to my handlebars. Numb hands are a big issue for riders. Make sure you wear gloves with padding for the ulnar nerve as well as for protection for you hands in case you fall.  If you are new to cycling, I promise you will fall eventually.

I had to move my seat all the way forward for my fit to be perfect.
I had to move my seat all the way forward for my fit to be perfect.

I also found a Bicycling Beginners Guide which I wish I would have found when I started my cycling journey a year ago. It really outlines what to look at, questions to ask and “how to” for picking a bike, as well as more information on that all too important fitting.

There are a ton of resources available online.

If you are trying to use cycling for weight loss, general fitness or recreation, make sure you are eating for the amount of calories you’ll burn. I have found nothing that burns calories like cycling and you’ll feel it halfway through your ride if you haven’t fueled yourself properly. Also, stay hydrated! There are a ton of nutrition resources and Velo News is a great resource.

This post is really meant to help steer my readers in the right direction. We’ll focus on some more cycling tips another day.

For now, enjoy the weather, breathe deep and see the world from the seat of a bicycle. There is simply nothing else like it.

Make sure you ride safe. Keep a tube replacement kit with you in case you get a flat. Your local bike mechanic will gladly teach you how to do this.
Make sure you ride safe. Keep a tube replacement kit with you in case you get a flat. Your local bike mechanic will gladly teach you how to do this.

Pay it forward

One of the many things I’ve learned since I started cycling is the act of paying it forward. This isn’t necessarily a monetary thing, but time and patience.

Some of the riders in my local cycling club, Kernersville Cycling Club, are new riders and don’t ride far or fast. We’ve had trouble getting people to lead rides for them, and we are not catering to a lot of our members.

Now, after all I’ve written about with my veteran cycling groups, it’s my turn to do something. I decided to lead the slow/training rides for riders who are not comfortable going faster or who simply can’t. This ought to be fun. Hopefully our club membership will flourish and I will get to give back to my community and cycling club.

Friday is that ride. Hopefully I’ll have photos to follow!

 

Ride of a lifetime!

When I deployed in 2010, I never imagined the doors it would open for me in a few short years after I would return home. I learned today that I have been accepted to do the Memorial Ride with Ride2Recovery. We start in Washington D.C. and end in Virginia Beach after 5 days of cycling. That equates to 270 miles total.

I by no means think of myself as a “Wounded Warrior” because there are so many far more wounded than I am. I am, however, so grateful to the communities, organizations and people that make these rides available for us. I have my own bike, but many others don’t. The healing that cycling provides is unmatched, in my opinion, for people to recover from physical and mental injuries.

The mission of Ride2Recovery is simple:

“To improve the health and wellness of healing heroes worldwide by providing a life changing experience that can impact their lives forever.  

R2R supports Spinning® Recovery Labs and outdoor cycling programs at Military and VA locations around the U.S. to help injured veterans overcome obstacles they face. Cycling is an important part of the recovery and rehabilitation program for two reasons:

1. Cycling is an activity that almost all patients with mental and physical disabilities can participate.

2. Participation in the Ride 2 Recovery Program helps speed up the recovery and rehabilitation process.

A) Ride 2 Recovery provides program events and site locations

B) R2R designs and builds specially adapted bikes to suit injured veterans needs making it possible for almost any warrior to participate in the program, including quad amputees.”

If only my father had this sort of support when he returned from Vietnam. Maybe he would not still suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his time in combat. I have been on the road to recovery for a year. It all started when I first went to the Veterans Affairs and sought care. Recovery went on overdrive once I hopped on a bicycle. I was able to feel free, work hard without physical pain from injury. But, I think the most rewarding and the most healing aspect has been on my mind. My mental health has improved more than I ever could have imagined. Not only do I ride for hours, but I get to have that same camaraderie I enjoy in the military with people who understand how I feel, without a word being said.

There are a few other organizations out there doing similar things for the same reasons. They want to help veterans heal. Operation Shifting Gears was founded by U.S. Army veteran Justin Minyard and I received my first road bicycle from his organization and participated in the 2013 Hincape Gran Fondo. I was recently able to donate it back so some other wounded warrior can begin to heal. Another organization founded by Deb and Bob Racine is The Warrior Ride. I rode with this group all around Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. Cost to me to participate in all of these events was $0.00. All I had to do was get myself to the event. The rest was covered. It’s humbling, amazing and I feel grateful beyond words to everyone.

Now, I will have one more experience under my belt and added to my collection of life-changing activities!

A little about me …

This is the Tour To Tanglewood 2013. This is a ride to raise money and awareness of Multiple Sclerosis. I rode 66 miles on the first day and 50 the next. I raised $500.00 and hope to at least double that this year.
This is the Tour To Tanglewood 2013. This is a ride to raise money and awareness of Multiple Sclerosis. I rode 66 miles on the first day and 50 the next. I raised $500.00 and hope to at least double that this year.

In order for anyone to get to know me, they should hop on a bike and ride with me. I love being on my bicycle – for hours at a time! I haven’t always been into cycling, but after my deployment to Afghanistan in 2010 with the Army Reserve, my foot just didn’t like running anymore. Running became painful and I became depressed and unmotivated. In the beginning of 2013, I decided to buy a bike. Like most people, I didn’t know what I wanted or needed. I bought a nice mountain bike. I loved riding it. I took it to Salem Lake and as I got better, I went around the lake twice. Next, I started riding on the road and quickly realized that I was not on the right type of bike! During a military tribute ride in the 2013 Winston Salem Cycle Classic, I met a great veteran who happens to run an organization that uses cycling as rehabilitation for wounded vets. He donated a road bike to me a few months later, and I put 1,000 miles on it before I donated it back to him and purchased a new one.

After starting on a bike three months prior, I was riding in the Winston Salem Cycle Classic in the Military Tribute ride. Those 7 miles felt like 20 on my mountain bike!
After starting on a bike three months prior, I was riding in the Winston Salem Cycle Classic in the Military Tribute ride. Those 7 miles felt like 20 on my mountain bike!

Not only did I ride, I lost a lot of weight. I was starting to feel vibrant and happy and excited about life again. Whoa! Who knew a bicycle could do all that? I sure didn’t. I’ve been hooked ever since. Even today, I went on a 17-mile ride around my neighborhood. I tackled familiar hills (all of which give me a total of 1,100 ft elevation gain) and enjoyed the sun on my face. The wind could have eased up a bit! Headwinds on a ride are mother nature’s evil tricks.

Riding has presented so many cool opportunities. I’ve gotten to ride with great people, wounded warriors and some really cool cyclists. As a part of Operation Shifting Gears, I was invited to ride in the 2013 Hincapie Gran Fondo in Greenville, S.C. last October. It was colder than I could have imagined, but awesome at the same time. After the ride, George Hincapie signed jerseys for us. Here I am in mine:

Here I am in my autographed jersey. It says "To Christina, George Hincapie"
Here I am in my autographed jersey. It says “To Christina, George Hincapie”

I am so excited to see what this year holds. So far, I was able to ride with the Warrior Ride for two days in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Norfolk last week. Those guys and gals are so inspiring!