Ride for Veterans

Cycling and anything that keeps the wheels turning. Marine veteran remembering the time I served as well as looking to help others.

Actions speak louder than words.

Would a handful of coins change your life?

4569457286_949974130a_m_answer_6_xlargePeople do this all the time. Someone on the streets walks up and begs for your spare change. Instead of talking with them and seeing if there are ways to help, you pacify their request with less than most people pay for a coffee.

Imagine that time in your life when you hit rock bottom or came dangerously close. Having no one to turn to and no way out, being completely on your own.21166-The-Worst-Time-Of-Your-Life Would a handful of change or several handfuls over the week rescue you? Does it even come close to bringing back what you once had?

Last month was pretty hectic, work related fun, giving me little time to get out there and pedal the roads. I did however get the opportunity to dawn a pair of spandex and circle around downtown Orlando last week. Managed to ride in the path of a shelter of some sort handing out plates of food. There was a line of people, men women and children all waiting their turn. Immediate thoughts turned to the efforts going to feed the homeless veterans for Thanksgiving and how little of a gesture it’ll be, not realizing the problem was much larger. Good starting point.

 

We’re asking for people out there to do more. Spare an hour to volunteer to help in your community. Do more than discard of a handful of change and forget about the problem. Hell you may even end up meeting someone that could change your life! The Ride for Veterans is continuing to grow and each new person yields a helping hand. Whether that’s sharing this blog with others, offering to cook some of the food or great ideas on how to get more each extra person makes this effort stronger.

Thanksgiving Day is right around the corner and we’re continuing to collect donations and help from people that choose to do so. The next project is going to be “Warmth For Christmas.” A project that’s still on the drawing board, but is carrying a lot of fire behind it. We want to get out there and provide as many of the homeless with a blanket, gloves, a hat and coat. 7845_2Shelter isn’t always and option for some of them. If possible we would like to also provide a Christmas meal to be shared with some of the shelters in the area. Research will be done to figure out which ones would be best suited for the project. To get a closer look at what life is like in one of these shelters click over to my friend Ronnie’s blog.

 

Change helps to provide a meal for someone or to buy much needed items, but it doesn’t live up to it’s name. A helping hand, a voice, a force strong enough to care is what’s needed.

 

If you’d like to join us and actually help people out of their situations let us know. It’ll only cost you time and love.

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What no one tells you about turning 21 in the Marines. (Blogapalooz-hour 4)

I have just been challenged by Hype Orlando to write about what no one tells you..

To be honest at first I had a complete brain fart as to what to write about. My first instinct was going to tell others about cycling, but nothing came to mind. Instead I’ll share from my past. I spent 8 years in the Marines and I have many many stories to share that I never do.

Japan.

When the average person talks to me about deployments they have these preconceived notions about what it must have been like. I blame this on the media or movies that is fed to the general public. They want to hear about gun fights or explosions. About all the dangerous situations that Marines go through during war. This is not one of those stories.

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The first thing I usually describe to people about Japan was that I turned 21 years old in Okinawa. I remember the first part of the night, but the rest of it was retold by my friends and pieced together later. . The night started early, as soon as we felt it appropriate we left the base and headed out into a little town called Kinville. Or as many have dubbed it, “Sinville.” This place had everything to get a young Marine into some trouble if they so decided to indulge. If you didn’t like the bar you were in you could walk another 10-15 feet and be in another one.

Entrance to Kinville.

Entrance to Kinville.

Kinville knew how Marines behaved and how to exploit them a big chunk of their paychecks. The mixed drinks like jack and coke were cheap $2.00 a glass, but the beer that we were used to drinking in the states came at around $4.00 a bottle. Didn’t take long before we all switched to the cheaper option when we went out. A handful of the bars also included girls for um company? Usually sent in from the Philippines to dance around on stage and flirt with service members to drain their wallets. Ask anyone who’s been there about the taco rice and cheese dish. A great late night snack in between drinking. Actually looking back I’m not sure if the food was fantastic or if we were just drunk off our asses and didn’t care.shots-9

Anyway back to my 21st birthday. We started out taking shots and washing them down with either jack and cokes or rum. It felt great to be able to drink and not have to worry about getting caught for underage consumption. We went from bar to bar announcing to everyone that I was now legal to get hammered. Drinks started coming from all directions. Almost like a challenge to see how plastered I could become. The night became blurry as we entered an establishment known as “East Coast.” This was usually the bar most of us went to towards the end of the evening to meet up with other Marines.

East coast bar

East coast bar

I could barely stand at this point. I went up to people I’ve never met and forced my way into their conversations. I have no idea about the topics, but it was fun. Now at this bar they had a potent mix called the “Rainbow shot.” Supposedly so strong and dangerous that it had to be taken at the bar. Trying to walk around would get you into trouble and probably thrown out. They lit the shot on fire for me and said to blow it out and drink it. I can’t recall taking the shot, but I do remember blowing out the flame. Then I time traveled and woke up the next morning in my bed.

What I don’t remember. . .I did in fact take the shot. My friends cheered me on while I made a horrible face. I turned away from the bar and went back to the table of random strangers I was talking to previously in the night. Picked up someones beer from the table and chugged it. Bad move apparently because I was stumbled the best I could to the bathrooms and began to throw up. Not sure why this bar had a shower stall in the bathroom, either way that is where I decided to project all of my stomach contents. I left the bathroom and noticed the bar was still pretty packed. I couldn’t find anyone that I recognize so I headed for the stairs. That’s right this evil bar was on the second floor so getting back to the street was a challenge. Gracefully I rolled down the stairs and back onto the sidewalk.images

I met up with a couple friends and stumbled into a wall explaining what just happened at the bar. They weren’t too interested in hearing the rest of the story. Instead they wanted that last bite to eat before heading back to base. They walked behind me as we neared the front gate of base. I kept rambling about not wanting to get in trouble with the gate guards. I could barely stand, falling off the sidewalk and playing pinball with the sides of buildings. The challenge finally presented itself. I was staring across the road at the main gate to base. I let my friends know not to go across with me so they wouldn’t get in trouble with me.

By some miracle I began with one foot in front of the other across the road appearing to be completely sober and level headed. Not sure how it happened to this day. To everyone around me including the guards, nothing seemed to be wrong with me. I could have passed a field sobriety test with flying colors. I held out my military ID and waited for them to wave me through to the other side. I did it!

Once I reached the other side of the gate and was out of view of the guards I fell into a bush. Friends of mine said it took me a couple minutes to regain my motor skills enough to walk the last quarter mile to the barracks. We lived on the fourth floor of the barracks and instead of taking the elevator my brain at the time picked the stairs. If I could find the picture taken of me that night I would share it, but its been years since I’ve seen it. I almost made it! I lay there in the hallway passed out on the floor with my hand on my room keys. My room keys were inside the lock, my body lay stretched out. Thankfully someone was nice enough to see me and finished opening the door for me so I could get into my room.

The barracks...I believe it was one of those bushes in the distance...

The barracks…I believe it was one of those bushes in the distance…

I woke up the next morning afraid to move. After the black out night I thought I would have this incredible hangover. This was not the case. I must have downed enough alcohol to skip right past the hangover stage. In the fridge was some leftover taco rice and cheese that I ate all of. I never threw up that morning and was free from any headaches. Instead i was treated to the stories of last night. My friends are a bunch of asses.

A few of the Marines that got me hammered that night.

A few of the Marines that got me hammered that night.

 

 

 

 

Running red lights without wearing a helmet.

Settling into a new home.

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Sorry that my posts have been few and far between lately. I recently moved to a new location within Orlando and have been working on getting everything situated. Can’t wait to get out on the bike once everything settles and explore past my previous boundaries.

Not divulging my location, but I get the pleasure now of seeing all kinds of skilled drivers around Conroy and Kirkman road. The erratic driving of tourists and pissed off Floridians is outstanding. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the the thought process of those who speed up to 50mph just to pass a car and then slam on their brakes to sit in backed up traffic. Was that one extra spot worth putting yourselves and others at risk? frabz-STUPID-DRIVERS--STUPID-DRIVERS-EVERY-WHERE-154d1f

My riding skills will definitely be put to the test while maneuvering through this part of Orlando. Even walking a couple of miles crossing the roads in this area is like playing Frogger. My first stroll out and I witnessed three separate car accidents within a half hour. Even with all the visible hazards I still watch people putting their lives at risk, especially those on bicycles.

Stupid cyclist.

Not sure the reason, but many of the people that ride bikes throughout downtown Orlando decide not to wear helmets. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I witnessed one such person on the way home from work one morning. This guy on a bike pulled out into traffic without checking his surroundings. Weaving all over the road and running a red light at a busy intersection. It’s pretty sad when someone like myself who loves cycling has to silently curse about a fellow rider.

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My new location is much closer to work so my primary rides won’t be just commuting back and forth to work anymore. I’ll have the chance to ride as a hobby and take pleasure in exploring my area. I’m very paranoid about getting hit by a vehicle in this area, but I believe with time I’ll get used to it and figure out ways to get to safer roads. Cannot wait for those 40-50+ mile rides in my future. Which I need to be doing more of, because unless I get back on the hamster wheel or curb my high intake of calories I’m going to balloon up and become a couch commander.

Excited about the road ahead.

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My life always takes twists and turns as I’ve said in my ‘about me’ section. I have a path I’m on and like many trips it’s a little foggy. I know of destinations I’ll come across and goals that come to fruition. Each day bringing me closer to what I desire in life. Just like any new ride the road will be lined with speed bumps, road blocks and unexpected pot holes. As long as I stay focused and determined I believe I can accomplish whatever I actually set my mind to. Tomorrow will be my first real ride in my new neighborhood. Hopefully I’ll make a few new cyclist friends or have some new stories to share. Stay safe out there and keep pedaling!

 

Which state doesn’t care about veterans?

Issuing a challenge!

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I have a twitter account setup for the Ride For Veterans that has steadily been growing. I’m grateful for all of the support I have been getting thus far. Currently at 5,678 followers!
I recently began organizing the followers by the state they’re currently living in. I’m doing this so that when the ride kicks off I’ll be able to make connections with people along the way and share my experiences with others!
I’m very pleased that most of the 50 states are included in my lists, but not all of them…

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I still have a long sorting period before I find out which state is showing the most support of the ride. California, Texas, and Florida so far are in the lead.
Now each state has their own charitable organizations that aide in helping homeless veterans. That being said, which ever state gets to 1,000 followers on their list first wins! There is no second place so I hope you all have a lot of veteran supporters where you’re located!

 

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BONUS ROUND!!!

If one of the states reaches 25,000 followers on their list I will do an additional lap (10,000+ miles) around the perimeter of the United States to specifically raise funds for that states homeless veterans!
If 25,000 is unattainable, which it won’t be because I know you won’t let me down, then the state that first reached 1,000 will win the extra lap. IF and ONLY IF by January 1st, 2015 I cross the 100,000 total followers.

Now like I said I’ve already been sorting the followers I have now, so the easiest and fastest way to get your states numbers up is to mention @LegsBPedaling in a tweet after following or DM me with your state name. If you’re unsure whether or not I’ve already accounted for you, open your twitter and look under lists in your profile.

Come on America I DARE you to make me pedal! I’m just a Marine veteran with a bicycle, but together we have the ability to help those who deserve it!

Good luck!

Join me in showing respect to fellow cycling veterans!

Honoring fellow veterans helping veterans through cycling.large_6786738407

While I was planning Ride For Veterans I wanted to do some research to see what I was getting myself into. I was amazed to find that many others are doing similar rides or adventures to benefit all different types of military veterans. I’ve been following them on Facebook with jealousy, because I haven’t begun my ride as of yet. At the same time I’m extremely proud of these individuals for their efforts and wish I could be out there riding with them. I cannot wait to begin mine, for now I will share some of the ones already out there saving lives.

 

Pedal against PTSD

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I have said it many times before that cycling is therapeutic. Pedal against PTSD was created in 2013, I encourage everyone to check out their facebook.  Stealing from their own description of the page:

My mission is to empower veterans to overcome PTSD through cycling and to raise awareness to veteran and veteran supporters for post traumatic stress.

My goal is to never compete with functioning systems already in action, yet communicate the local resources via a cycling community. The goal is huge but I believe the need is even bigger. I feel there are more veterans needing assistance than the government can handle. Just spend 30 minutes in a VA hospital and you will see what I mean.

 

If you would like to order one of the jerseys or shorts you can find the link throughout the Facebook page. I like seeing efforts like this because it not only gets veterans out there helping each other, but it keeps them happy and healthy out on bicycles. Often times the problems that can arise from PTSD are ignored or dealt with poorly. I plan on ordering a set to help bring awareness in my area.

 

 Vet Ride for Life

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This Facebook page was created by an Iraqi war veteran in order to bring awareness to veteran suicide. I’ve been following him on Facebook for a while now. Every now and then a new picture of his bike propped up against a sign comes across my timeline. My ride will be pretty similar to this one. If you’d like to learn more about this ride or make a donation to help out you can visit his site. http://www.youcaring.com/other/transamerica-ride-for-life/68118

 

Have a safe memorial weekend and remember those who have gave, and those continuing to give.