Today, I was mistaken for a hero.
American flags flew, people cheered and anthems boomed through the speakers. What could I do but wave? This wasn’t an intentional deception. I was pedaling along south of San Luis Obispo, absorbed in my thoughts, when a photographer suddenly appeared on the side of the road. “There’s 200 wounded veterans catching up to you!” she yelled as I sped by.
The first group was led by one badass hand cyclist and passed me with a whir. The other riders came by at a slightly slower tempo but all of them had the same look of determination on their face. Friendly hellos were exchanged but I didn’t get a full explanation of the ride until a veteran/bike industry/support rider came along. The cyclists were all injured veterans who were in the middle of a 7 day “Ride 2 Recovery” event.
This program is designed to assist with both physical and emotional recovery from the scars of wartime. Wounded veterans are provided with custom carbon bicycles as a means of rehab and set an accompanying goal to participate in a specific ride. I witnessed touching acts of camaraderie as the men and women encouraged each other through challenging hills and descents.
These kind folks invited me to share lunch with them and even fixed my slowly leaking rear tire. Over egg salad sandwiches we shared stories of our hometowns and life on the road. I would like to extend a huge thank-you to the Ride 2 Recovery crew for keeping my morale high during a challenging day of riding. An even bigger thank-you goes out to all of our troops, at home and abroad.