Wounded Warriors Hit The Road on Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth Today

CCB MEDIA PHOTO A giant flag flies over Red Jacket Resort in Yarmouth to welcome the 54 veterans participating in the Wounded Warrior Project on Cape Cod this week.

A giant flag flies over Red Jacket Resort in Yarmouth to welcome the 54 veterans participating in the Wounded Warrior Project on Cape Cod this week.

YARMOUTH – The Wounded Warrior Project is on Cape Cod for three days this week, giving injured veterans the opportunity to bond with other veterans, get out into a welcoming community and do challenging bike rides—no matter what their ability is.

The 54 veterans arrived on Cape Cod yesterday and settled into the beachfront Red Jacket Resort in Yarmouth where they unpacked and were fitted onto bikes that can be adjusted to handle all different injuries. Each veteran was made to feel welcome by receiving a gift bag with items from Cape Cod. They spent yesterday afternoon on a train ride on the Cape Cod Scenic Railroad.

Today’s ride is 16 miles along the Shining Sea Bikeway from North Falmouth to Woods Hole and back. Friday’s ride in Provincetown is 19 miles and the third ride on Saturday in Boston is 27 miles long.

Nick Kraus, with Wounded Warrior Project, said many of the veterans have not been on a bicycle since they were in the hospital after being injured.

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Bicycles are lined up in preparation for the 54 riders with the Wounded Warriors.

Bicycles are lined up in preparation for the 54 riders with the Wounded Warriors.

“It’s a big first step. Most of them have not been on a soldier ride before,” he said.

Of the bicycles for the ride, Kraus said, “Basically, we have every type of bicycle. So if someone’s missing an arm—one is missing both of his arms—there are people here from Project Mobility that will outfit them to whatever their needs are.”

For those who have back issues, they have tricycle-style bicycles that are three wheelers. For those with balance issues, they have hybrid bikes with thicker tires.

The hope, Kraus said, is that the veterans will enjoy biking and choose it as a way to help heal.

“One of the nice things about riding a bike is it’s something you can do at whatever level,” he said, whether it is inside with a trainer, in the woods, along the beach, in groups, alone, with a spouse or with children.

“It’s a sport that we thought was maybe a great way to break out of the situation you’re in, as far as your recovery goes,” Kraus said.

The veterans gathered for this week’s ride have been out of the hospital and are in various stages of recovery. They are from all over the country, including Oregon, Texas, and New York.

Dan Schnock, a veteran himself and director of soldier rides for Wounded Warrior, said the ride is meant to help veterans, no matter what their situation. “Whatever their new normal is, whether they’re missing a hand, missing a leg or they have post-traumatic stress or a traumatic brain injury, whatever that new norm is, we want to set them up for success and let them come out and do what they did as kids, ride a bike,” he said.

Part of the experience is the bonding, he said.

“It’s like being in a platoon or a flight or quarters as we used to have them in the military. You run together, you socialize together, you ride a bike together. That esprit do corps, even if they get a little tired, it’s going to challenge them,” Schnock said.

Nick Schuman, one of the Wounded Warriors riding on Cape Cod for the first time, said he is excited for the experience.

Schuman, 38, was an Air Force Guidance and Control Specialist for H-60 helicopters. He was deployed to Iraq in 2003 right at the start of the conflict. Part of a helicopter search and rescue unit, he was deployed for 45 days before he was injured.

“Just in the short time that we’ve been here so far, it’s obvious the community’s really behind the event and there’s a lot of people involved. It’s going to be a great time,” he said.

Schuman, who is originally from Memphis, Tennessee but now lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, said that part of what the veterans get out of the experience is meeting people who may have had similar experiences.

“The big thing from the warriors’ point of view—the wounded warrior—is the camaraderie with all the other wounded warriors that are here. Being able to spend that time with people that have been in your same situation, is huge,” he said.

The public is invited to cheer on the riders and Schuman said that is, perhaps, the most gratifying part for the wounded veterans.

“The community when you’re going by and they’re cheering you on, it’s such a big show, it just makes you proud and proud that you were able to serve your country and proud that so many people really appreciate you,” he said. “It makes us feel good and we really appreciate everybody out there for us.”

There are three rides, getting progressively longer today, Friday and Saturday. The participants can do all the rides or just part of them. Schuman said he plans to do all three rides.

“The point is to challenge yourself physically and emotionally, to do more than you thought you were capable of. It’s going to be a challenging ride, but with everybody there behind you, pushing you along, it makes it very rewarding when you get done,” he said.

Schuman praised the organization that puts on the ride.

“I’m so very appreciative of organizations like Wounded Warrior Project that do this for us. In the past generations, veterans weren’t treated as well as we are now, and I’m so thankful for it,” he said.

By LAURA M. RECKFORD, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

Wounded Warriors on Cape Cod

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Dozens of veterans begin a 16-mile round-trip ride on the Shining Sea Bikeway in North Falmouth as part of the Wounded Warrior Project.

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