COLLEGE STATION, Texas Hundreds of wounded vets and their supporters from around the country converged in College Station Monday morning, gearing up for a 100-mile bicycle journey.
The ride from College Station to Georgetown was the second day of a ride around Texas that began in Houston on Sunday. Before the week is out, the group will have travelled around 590 miles.
Ride 2 Recovery, a group dedicated to improving the health and wellness of healing heroes worldwide, puts on the ride and others like it each year.
Nathan Green, who served with the U.S. Air Force in both Iraq and Afghanistan, said the rides are a means for rehabilitation for physical and mental injuries, but they also give the cyclists more a chance to build friendships.
"A lot of times, after we get out of the military, we lose a lot of the contacts that we make while we're there," said Green. "So it's a means to get back with our friends, get back with people that know us and what we've been through and can help us along."
The cyclists kicked off their ride at the Hampton Inn on Texas Avenue near University and rode through Texas A&M University. Along the way, Aggies lined the streets to cheer them on.
Juan Hernandez served in the U.S. Army and started riding with Ride 2 Recovery in 2010, just six months after he was injured in Afghanistan.
"I got hurt when an RPG hit my helicopter," said hernandez. "Because of the explosion and the shrapnel from the helicopter, they had to take off my right leg below the knee."
Hernandez said the rides have a way of bringing him back to his days in the military.
"Being back in the same tight group that you were so used to when you were deployed in the Army. It's just like what we have here," said Hernandez. "About 80 percent of these riders have served and have been to a combat zone, so we can all relate."
Timothy Brown served with the U.S. Marines and hopes to be an Aggie someday soon. He stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) during his last tour in Afghanistan. Among his injuries, Brown lost his arm and both of his legs. His personal road to recovery has been a long one.
"Looking forward to bike races, bike rides, things like this, is pretty much what got me through to the other side," said Brown. "There are some pretty dark, down places after the surgeries, but I would look down the schedule and find a ride or a race that I think I'd be able to do, and that would become my goal."
After a quick stop at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the riders hit the pavement once again, bound for Georgetown.
Thanks to donations from paid participants, the USO and United Healthcare, wounded vets ride for free. Food, lodging, even bicycles are available at no cost.
According to Ride 2 Recovery's website, a discount is available to active duty military or VA employees.
For more information on Ride 2 Recovery, click on the link added to this story.