As many of you know, I’m passionate about giving back to our nation’s service members – the many who fight to protect the freedom of this great country. Often times many of these inspiring individuals come home with wounds you can and can’t see, like a missing limb, combat stress, or depression. Because they’ve risked everything for us, I’m committed to raising awareness and funds for these wounded service members and their caregivers.
I am proud to host an event benefiting an organization whose mission is to honor and empower Wounded Warrior. Growing up in Texas my parents moved to New Orleans in the early seventies. After graduating from Archbishop Rummel High School ( Class of 71) I received a 10 speed bicycle from my parents as a graduation gift. Being from Texas I got a crazy idea to ride a bicycle from New Orleans to Dallas to visit my old Texas friends. The distance was over 500 miles. After training all summer I began the adventurous journey that August of 1971. The first day I made it from New Orleans to outside of Baton Rouge. The next day I really made headway by riding 125 miles to outside of Alexandria Louisiana. There was a problem though! The more I pedaled the more pain I felt in my right knee joint. Turns out the bicycle was too small for my lanky 6 ft 3 in body. The pain in my right knee got so intense that I could no longer put pressure on the pedal to ride any further. I was forced to hitch a ride in the back of a farmer’s pickup truck with my bike along with me. As it turned out he was headed to Monroe LA where I shipped my bike back to New Orleans and I flew into Dallas to see my friends. I recall a lady holding her nose on the plane to Dallas. One cannot avoid smelling like a goat after such a long sweaty journey. The bike ride was a bust and I am sure people wondered how any human could be so dirty and smelly and ride in an airplane. Well I had not enough money for a hotel and a plane ride. I chose to make a mad dash to Dallas with the remaining cash I had. I landed in Dallas broke and totally gross but my buddies where there to rescue me!
Fast forward to the year 2005. I am telling my 4 year old daughter bedtime stories. Somehow I was telling her how frustrating it was for me to not have successfully completed the New Orleans to Dallas bicycle ride. Then suddenly a light bulb came on in my head. I said to myself, I know I will attempt to ride a bike even farther than the failed New Orleans ride. Now living in Dallas I told myself, “I will ride from Dallas to San Diego California”. Accomplishing such a ride would be almost three times as far and I would have the monkey off my back for the failed ride all those years ago. There was one problem however. I had not been on a bicycle in decades! I did not know if I would even enjoy cycling. To find out I bought a used Schwinn aluminum frame road bike to see if I could even stand riding after so many years. Well I bought those cycling shoes that clip onto the bike and began riding on a local paved bike trail. After some soreness and a few bike crashes I figured I could handle the bicycle concept after all. I rode for a couple of months to get in shape. I even bought a second bicycle ( a yellow US Postal Road Bike made by Trek ) like Lance Armstrong rode in one of the Tour de France races. The old Schwinn became my emergency backup bike if there was a breakdown or a flat on the way and there were plenty of flats! I hired a friend that said he would follow me to shield me from traffic as I made the journey from Dallas to San Diego. He thought I was kidding him when he said he would follow me on the ride. Fortunately he kept his word and I left my Dallas driveway on my bike with a car following me all the way to San Diego. The real honor should go to my friend that had the patience to follow someone all the way to the west coast probably averaging 12 to 14 miles an hour for three weeks! I think that might have been more difficult than the bicycle ride itself! I also felt that I should raise some money to support a great cause. I chose the Wounded Warriors Project and we raised some money for the cause. The freedom we have enjoyed in this country is second to none and I felt a debt of gratitude that could in real terms never be paid back by raising some money. It is a small gesture compared to the sacrifice so many have made serving our country! Well three weeks of riding with my buddy following me I successfully completed the trip arriving in San Diego on Halloween 2005. The monkey was off my back from the failed bike ride all those years ago and so was a loss of about 20 pounds of body weight!
Now 13 years later I am still riding bicycles and the urge to attempt a new challenge is upon me! This time in early September 2018 the goal is to ride from San Diego to Sea Island Georgia. I never thought a bicycle ride 47 years ago would motivate me in so many ways. If someone told me back in those days I would be attempting a coast to coast bike ride at 65 years of age I would have truly questioned their sanity. Now before you question mine just know I made sure the doctors were confident I was good to go! I will also have a vehicle following me all the way just like the last big ride! The company I have been running for the past 25 years Eclipse will donate 2 dollars for every mile I complete to the Wounded Warriors Project, again! I will be posting periodic updates on the eclipsemed.com website. Please join my effort and give what you can by donating through my page. Click the donate button at the top and enter the amount you are able to give. Wounded Warrior Project is such a great cause and it helps so many families and soldiers that have made great sacrifices for our freedoms. I appreciate your support and prayers for a safe and successful journey. Thanks to all that can help and thanks to those that are our loyal Eclipse customers! To the Journey!