By Christen N. McCluney
Early Tuesday morning of last week, hundreds of cyclist and volunteers gathered outside of a hotel in Manassas, Va. to prepare for day two of the Ride 2 Recovery Memorial Challenge. The event is a six-day, 350 mile ride from The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to Virginia Beach.
The challenge supports the physical and mental health of injured veterans through cycling, which is an activity that almost all patients with mental and physical disabilities can participate.
The participants in the race, which included servicemembers, veterans and family members, came from all walks of life from all across the country to participate in this challenge.
Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Lemaitre became involved in the race because some of the soldiers he supervises went on the last ride. “I figured that other than supporting them at the unit this was another way to lend my support,” he said. After this he will also participate in two more rides in Colorado and Florida.
Terry Cleveland, who recently retired from the Navy after 31 years, was a first time rider in this challenge. “It’s my little way to support the vets overseas that have been wounded.”
When asked how he felt after the previous day of cycling he said he was happy that he could actually stand up and feel his legs but it was for a good cause.
The cyclist who were escorted by local police and The American Legion Riders, were greeted with cheers on the side of the road as they set out on a 55-mile trek from Manassas to Fredericksburg, Va.
Employees from the Defense Contract Management Agency, who have an office nearby, decided to stop on the road and lend their support to the cyclist. “We we were doing our morning wellness walk and saw them getting ready to leave and decided to support,” said Sandra Smith, a DCMA employee.
All throughout the ride, which took the cyclist through historic battlefields and scenic countryside, people from the community and local military organizations were on the route lending their support by waving flags and cheering the riders on as they passed.
Army Spc. Gilad Afridonidze, a member of the Warrior Transition Unit, who was also a first time rider said the trip was pretty difficult and hot, but one of the biggest lessons he learned from this entire journey was to be patient and keep moving on.
The bicycle ride began May 31 and ended June 5 with a party and concert sponsored by the USO.