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Three Ways Bicycling Brings Joy To Warriors’ Lives

All the buzz of riding for miles with Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Soldier Ride Across America got us thinking about the happy days when we rode our bikes until mom called us in for dinner. How can a bicycle ride bring up feelings of well-being and happiness for so many of us?

We asked Soldier Ride Across America participants why they love to ride. This is just a portion of what they told us:

A healthy dose of freedom – “I love to ride for the joy of it, the freedom, and the stress relief,” said Shonda Jones, a rider in Soldier Ride Across America who’s based in North Carolina. Still recovering from back injuries, she rides a recumbent bike nicknamed “Blue.” These days, she soars on Blue, and that joy and freedom was a long time coming. “It was a struggle for me to make it to the finish after 18 years of not being on a bike,” she said as she recalled her first Soldier Ride® in Virginia in 2016. The freedom of riding motivated her to join the Physical Health and Wellness program at WWP, lose 100 pounds, and complete the first of many rides. And Blue? It was awarded to Shonda by WWP. “I was told that I motivated others, but I was only trying to motivate myself. Soldier Ride is one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life.”

A mind-body changing experience – While cycling can leave us exhausted, it is also restorative. “Getting on a bike and riding changed something inside me, and my life has gotten so much better that it hardly seems real,” said Jered Holder, a rider in Solder Ride Across America hailing from Texas. “I have lost 50 pounds since February, and I've been able to fully enjoy the aspects of my life that are most important to me. Taking part in this ride is a way for me to show other veterans that it is possible for them to improve their lives. My goal is to instill feelings of hope in fellow veterans that are living through situations like what I had been experiencing.”

Positive emotions – Changing your perspective can be a powerful way to overcome obstacles and everyday life’s stress. There are many physiological benefits to getting on a bike, from cardio conditioning to reducing the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body. But humans default to how we feel. “After my first Soldier Ride, I was dead tired after getting close to 100 miles, but more importantly, I made it, and that made me even happier,” recalled Steven Peace, an experienced rider with Soldier Ride Across America and a member of Team USA who trains year-round in California and travels extensively. Steven started on a recumbent bike as he recovered from a stroke. He now rides an adaptive, upright trike. “I could have had a horrible day, and riding makes it better.” 

You can follow Soldier Ride Across America and the riders featured in this story at http://wwp.news/SRAA.

Contact: Vesta M. Anderson – Public Relations, vanderson@woundedwarriorproject.org, 904.570.0771

About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers – helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more: http://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/about-us.


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