MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE. N.C. --
They say with a little perseverance, no obstacle is too great to overcome. With a little sweat and dedication, it has even been proven that a man with no legs could be able to ride a bicycle.
That is just what many patients with the Wounded Warrior Regiment, coming from all points of the country, gathered to do aboard Camp Geiger during a three-day Wounded Warrior cycling camp, Sept. 27 through 29.
“The cycling camp aims to help these Marines turn whatever injury they have into an opportunity,” said Maj. Steven Miller, officer in charge of the Warrior Athletic Reconditioning program with Wounded Warrior Battalion – East. “Even if some had never cycled before, they’re taking advantage of their situation to help them in their recovery process.”
Approximately 20 Marines from WWBns – East and West as well as various detachments as far away as Hawaii came together as one cycling team. Aided by a variety of athletic instructors, including Frankie Andreu, 1998 to 2000 team captain of the U.S. Postal Service cycling team alongside Lance Armstrong, the Marines received briefings on the basics of the cycles they would use in the coming days.
“They will be utilizing either the conventional cycle or the hand cycle, with one team of two riding a tandem,” said Todd Collins, a volunteer bicycle mechanic in attendance of the event. “The hand cycles are obviously operated by the upper body, helping the Marines, unable to operate regular cycles, conditioning in other parts of the body.”
A few of the cycle camp participants possessed prosthetic legs with one double amputee in a wheelchair, using a special tandem cycle with a partner.
For the riding portion of the camp, the cyclists were escorted by military policemen around the Camp Geiger perimeter, eventually expanding to circumference Marine Corps Air Station New River. With thorough instruction and an increasing riding distance, the Marines started what many hoped to be an effective recuperation activity.
“Back in 2004 there was nothing like this,” said Staff Sgt. Nathan Lynch, athletics director and patient with WWBn-West. “It was ‘take your meds, go to your barracks room and shut your mouth.’ Now, these various camps offered to the wounded Marines give them every opportunity to help them recover on their own time.”
While many able-bodied individuals might see cycling strictly as either an alternative means of transportation or a hobby, these wounded warriors are using it as a way to improve their overall health while residing as patients at their respective detachments.
“Not only does it improve their physical health, but also their lifestyle,” said Miller. “Cycling is a sport that demands proper food and fitness, encompassing not only recuperation, but the entire well-being of the Marine.”
As the Marines put the rubber to the road, they started their first “steps” on the road to recovery, coming closer to recovery not through the use of medication, but bicycles.