12 riders go 200 miles in 2 days
Story by: By Pfc. Aaron Breitbarth
Photo by: Photo courtesy of Jon Chittim
Twelve Soldiers and staff members joined in the 200-mile Seattle-to-Portland ride July 14 and 15.
“I’ve gone this far and there’s no way I’m not going to finish.”
Those were the thoughts that went through Staff Sgt. Jeannette King’s mind as she approached the last leg of the Group Health’s 33rd Annual Seattle-to-Portland Classic on July 15.
King was one of more than 12 Warrior Transition Battalion Soldiers, staff and family members who were among the 10,000 cyclists that participated in the 200-mile bike ride organized by the Cascade Bicycle Club.
Led by Jon Chittim, the Phoenix Adaptive Sports cycling program head, with the help of Outdoors for All— coordinated by Kris Christensen— and recreational therapist Kim Drown, nine Soldiers, one physical therapy assistant, two WTB cadre, and some family members took on the challenge of the ride. Generally speaking, to drive from Seattle to Portland, Ore., would take three hours. Armed with traditional and recumbent bicycles, Soldiers had two days to complete the feat.
With Chittim and Staff Sgt. Mario Bilbrew in the lead, these Soldiers had been using the PAS cycling program as way to train for this event. Some Soldiers, like Sgt. 1st Class Chris Bartholomew, have been training intensively, even on their own, since February. The Soldier brought his family with him; he said the highlight of the event was successfully completing the ride with his 17-year-old son beside him.
The training is also a means of adaptive physical therapy. As Chittim said, “Biking is a non-impact exercise” and the program has the means to outfit riders of any size and with most types of injuries that might discourage them from other forms of physical activity.
Obviously, the Seattle-to-Portland Classic was more than a physical accomplishment for all those involved. When King described her personal experience, she said that she “found heart!” Although, she said there were times when mere road signs (Toledo 15 miles) “made your heart drop.” King, who rode a recumbent bicycle in an event for the second time, said, “Physically, I think it was more than I could have handled, but I had the heart and drive to finish.” She said she will definitely sign up for more events.
The exercise, the preparation, the PAS cycling program itself, and the event all were emphasized by the participants as important, especially by the leaders of the project. Bilbrew was adamant in his continued mention of “fun” and his intent to “motivate the Soldiers.” He is more than a cycling activist with at least four Ride 2 Recoveries under his belt; he is a man that is “constantly moving” and in his words he wants the Soldiers “to experience movement” and “change their thought process.” Chittim has often seen “quite an improvement just (from) biking.”
The next cycling event is the Ride 2 Recovery Minuteman Challenge, going from Boston to New York. It takes place Sept. 10-15. See Chittim for details.
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