Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Ride 2 Recovery is more than mental and physical rehab for service men and women. The bike ride also puts them in touch with others, who know what they are going through.
The wounded veterans ride hand cycles, recumbent and traditional road bikes to help raise funds to support rehabilitation programs.
“If you’ve never witnessed a miracle, you’ll see one this week when you see this group of riders come through,” said Jessica Zeigler, the wife of a biker.
Traveling on the roads of Central Minnesota, a group of 150 veterans all from different branches of the military ride together. Some served in Vietnam, others Iraq and Afghanistan.
What they have in common is the road they share — the road to recovery.
“You look to the left and right and you see the same guys going through it, too. So it’s misery loves company and you just keep on going,” said Mike McNaughton.
McNaughton lost his leg clearing mines in Afghanistan.
He said the Ride 2 Recovery helps wounded veterans know they can recover through the physical and mental challenge of cycling long distance.
“We get them to accomplish something they don’t think they can accomplish and they are with all their buddies so it’s that military camaraderie that they missed when they are with their units,” he said.
Patrick Zeigler is unique to the group and said being a part of this has restored something in him.
“It’s giving me a sense of freedom and independence that I kind of lost since I was wounded,” he said.
Zeigler was hurt during a terrorist attack stateside at Ft. Hood, Texas. Thirteen people were killed and 41 others injured.
“I was the worst one injured that survived — shot four times, once in the head,” Zeigler said.
Still although each veteran is in a different stage of recovery, they can all relate to one another, he said.
His wife Jessica, a Minnesota native, said it’s hard to put into words, what a bicycle does to help a wounded veteran recover.
“They’ve been told that they will never walk again. They may be bed ridden for the rest of their lives but Patrick was in that category and because somebody said let me build you a custom bike and get you independent, he was able to start walking again,” she said.
For some it’s the beginning of the Ride 2 Recovery. For others, it’s a chance to share what they learned.
The 270-mile ride will take the veterans from Minneapolis to Red Wing, Red Wing to Rochester, Rochester to Northfield and back to Minneapolis.
They will finish up Sunday at the Twins game.