By LTC Marc Hoffmeister, AW2 Soldier
When John Wordin, director of Ride 2 Recovery, invited me to mountain bike in Texas, I was more than excited at the opportunity. When he informed me that we would be riding with former President George W. Bush, I was speechless. Biking has been one of the greatest means of recovery I’ve had. It brought me freedom from the hospitals, built back my fitness level, and got me back in the fight. And now it brought the opportunity to ride with the president! As an avid mountain biker, I assumed 100 km of trail with the president wouldn’t be all that tough—after all, he’s not all that young. Fast forward to today as we wrapped up the final miles of the Warrior 100, and I can honestly say the man brought his A-game and he knows how to handle a bike.
Fourteen wounded warriors joined the president at the Lajitas Resort in Big Bend Ranch State Park, Lajitas, TX, for three days of mountain biking, April 25-27, 2011, as part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Social Enterprise Initiative. The event brought together warriors representing the Ride 2 Recovery, World Team Sports, the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and the Wounded Warrior Project to highlight the continuing commitments they have made to support our wounded.
Make no mistake, this was no pleasure cruise. The 100 kilometers of trail was rocky and technical, demanding intermediate to expert level bike handling and a high level of fitness to maintain the demanding pace set by the president and his special guest, Lance Armstrong. Between the two of them and the dry desert heat along the Mexican border, all of us had our work cut out for us to keep up the pace. But we met the challenge head on, just as we’ve maintained our strength of purpose in recovering from our wounds—there was no way we were going to be dropped by the president, so we rode hard and met his challenge.
The Warrior 100 was a once in a lifetime experience which reminded me how strong our warriors are in their recovery and how incredible the support we have is, literally from the top down. The support for the event was phenomenal as well. Everything was thought of and perfectly coordinated; lodging, food, transportation, bike maintenance. It was obvious how professionally the president’s staff had planned and executed this event. It was a privilege I will not forget and an experience I hope others will share as well. The president stated the goal is to repeat this event in the future, but first you have to get back on the bike.
Check out interviews, pictures, and video from the trail at www.w100k.com.