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Monday
Jul302012

Disabled Veterans Cycle From Sea to Shining Sea

by The USO

For the past two months, a group of 14 disabled veterans rode bicycles, hand cycles and recumbent cycles nearly 4,000 miles through 14 states—from Sea to Shining Sea.The USO RV rolls into Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photograph by Michael Sanders.

They started May 28th dipping their rear tires in San Francisco Bay, before heading east on their cross country journey. Through scenic Napa Valley and over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the World T.E.A.M. Sports cyclists rode through Lake Tahoe and endured 100-plus degree temperatures in the deserts of Nevada and Utah before pedaling up the steep inclines of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

They toured America at 10 miles per hour, through small towns and big cities, experiencing the sights and smells of the heartland—a pilgrimage through the country to help them understand exactly what it is they sacrificed their bodies and minds for. They rode through the Arkansas River valley into Kansas, arriving in St. Louis for the Fourth of July. In each town and city, Americans lined the streets to welcome them. They continued east through southern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio  then south through Washington D.C. and Richmond before arriving at their final destination in Virginia Beach, today.

The USO RV was a lunch stop, a rolling rest area and a place of refuge in inclement weather. Photograph by Nancy Chamberlain.Following the cyclists for the entire trip has been a USO Mobile RV, on a mission to provide valuable field support such as water, food and shelter from inclement weather.

“The driver of the RV — Lou — was probably [one of] the most consistent and uplifting personalities we had with us along the way,” said Army Capt. Ivan Castro, an active duty Special Operations officer who was blinded and maimed by a mortar round in Iraq. Castro rides tandem with a sighted, civilian cyclist.

“We’ve had some tough climbs, some scary descents and some crazy hot weather,” he added.  “But every morning Lou is there to shake my hand, give me some kind words of support and hand me a cup of coffee just the way I like it. It’s the same USO I know and love, but it’s always here—traveling along with us. It’s amazing the way the USO can bring comfort to an otherwise uncomfortable situation.”

“We’re here to provide any level of support these riders might need at every moment along the route,” said Emily Flint, the Special Events coordinator for the USO who traveled in the RV for the entire ride. “One day that might mean handing out waters, sandwiches, or providing much-needed logistical support. At other times the USO Mobile is literally the only respite the cyclists have from the unforgiving weather. It’s been a grueling trip at some points—especially because of the weather—but we are proud to support the endeavors of men and women who have been injured while serving our country.”

Read the entire story at the USO website.

The USO RV waits at the summit of Loveland Pass, Colorado for the team to begin their long descent to the Atlantic Ocean. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

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