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Fort Campbell Warrior Transition Battalion Soldiers begin 200-mile Recovery Ride

 

Written by Maria Yager
Blanchfield Army Community Hospital Public Affairs

Blanchfield Army Hospital - BACH - Fort Campbell KYFort Campbell, KY – Despite the dark clouds and rain, 32 Soldiers from the Fort Campbell Warrior Transition Battalion set-out on a two-day, 200-mile bike ride on post and in Southern Kentucky early Thursday, September 27th, 2018.

The dual century ride is a personally challenging and therapeutic bike ride for wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and veterans, organized by the WTB’s adaptive reconditioning program and volunteers.

Fort Campbell Warrior Transition Battalion Soldiers and cadre participating in the 5th Annual Bluegrass Rendezvous endurance ride September 27th, make their way along the backroads of Kentucky during day one of the two-day endurance ride. (Rita Peters)

Fort Campbell Warrior Transition Battalion Soldiers and cadre participating in the 5th Annual Bluegrass Rendezvous endurance ride September 27th, make their way along the backroads of Kentucky during day one of the two-day endurance ride. (Rita Peters)

Day one took cyclists down back roads of the installation and through the Kentucky communities of LaFayette, Gracey, Hopkinsville, Pembroke, Trenton and Oak Grove.

In its fifth iteration the Bluegrass Rendezvous serves as a milestone in the recovery of wounded, ill and injured Soldiers assigned to the battalion for extended medical care.

Completing or even simply participating in a portion of the endurance ride is a recovery goal some Soldiers train for as they heal and restore their health.

“So far its [cycling] gotten my endurance back up. It’s gotten my lungs where they need to be. Fighting cancer was not an easy battle and this has really pushed me to my extremes, pushed myself and pushed my body,” said Spc. Weston Stephens, who was assigned to the battalion to undergo treatment for stage four cancer. Now 100 percent clear, Stephens said he began cycling and other adaptive reconditioning activities offered at the WTB to help him regain his strength in preparation for his return to duty. “So far, today, it’s been pretty wet, a little cold, but we’re making it. We’re doing pretty good,” said Stephens, at the first rest stop off post in LaFayette.

After a lunch break at the 50-mile mark in Gracey, Kentucky, Fort Campbell WTB Soldiers and cadre participating in the 5th Annual Bluegrass Rendezvous endurance ride September 27th set out for another 50-mile stretch along the backroads of Kentucky to return to the post.  (U.S. Army photo by Maria Yager)

After a lunch break at the 50-mile mark in Gracey, Kentucky, Fort Campbell WTB Soldiers and cadre participating in the 5th Annual Bluegrass Rendezvous endurance ride September 27th set out for another 50-mile stretch along the backroads of Kentucky to return to the post. (U.S. Army photo by Maria Yager)

Soldiers at the WTB participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical adaptive reconditioning per week. The activities are individually tailored by a unit physical therapist to meet each Soldiers recovery goals.

“This can help Soldiers in their recovery not just from the physical aspect but from the mental aspect,” said 1st Lt. Todd Kuzma during a meal break in Gracey, 50-miles into the ride. Kuzma is officer in charge of the WTB’s adaptive reconditioning program. He, along with other WTB staff including the unit’s commander and command sergeant major joined their Soldiers, in the rain, for the ride.

“Our Soldiers and staff were training for about four and a half months before doing this. We started with small 20-mile rides and we gradually increased to where we were doing 60-mile rides on our long days and on our regular days we were hitting 40 miles,” said Kuzma. Training for the ride gives recovering Soldiers a goal and instills confidence in their physical abilities said Kuzma, “The feeling of ‘I can get out there and still do something. I can do something that challenges me. I’m not broken.’”

Incorporating adaptive reconditioning activities into Soldiers’ recovery plans helps them understand how much they can still accomplish and achieve in their career, physical, social, family, and spiritual goals with increased self-confidence.

Another rider, Staff Sgt. Michael Hale, recovering from multiple surgeries, said cycling is beneficial and enjoyable for him, now that he can no longer run.

“Now I can still continue to do a very cardio intense work out, so it’s kind of a fun thing, keeping me fit and I enjoy it. It helps us get out and interact with each other and build comradery,” said Hale. “The other thing is that I get into kind of a zone — just being able to relax and pedal and forget about the problems of the day.”

After a stop in Gracey, Kentucky, Staff Sgt. Michael Hale, assigned to the Fort Campbell Warrior Transition Battalion, prepares to head out on the next leg of the Bluegrass Rendezvous, a two-day, 200-mile endurance ride for Soldiers at the WTB. Soldiers may be assigned to the WTB after sustaining a wound, illness or injury that requires nurse-case managed care for more than six months.  (U.S. Army photo by Maria Yager)

After a stop in Gracey, Kentucky, Staff Sgt. Michael Hale, assigned to the Fort Campbell Warrior Transition Battalion, prepares to head out on the next leg of the Bluegrass Rendezvous, a two-day, 200-mile endurance ride for Soldiers at the WTB. Soldiers may be assigned to the WTB after sustaining a wound, illness or injury that requires nurse-case managed care for more than six months. (U.S. Army photo by Maria Yager)

The battalion, dedicated to the care and treatment of wounded, ill and injured Soldiers, hosts the ride annually for Soldiers who want to challenge themselves physically and mentally. After completing the first 100 miles Thursday, riders will break for the day at the battalion.

Riders will depart the WTB’s adaptive reconditioning program facility on Kentucky Avenue across from the Estep Wellness Center at 6:30am Friday, September 28th for the second portion of the ride, finishing at the WTB on Fort Campbell Friday afternoon around 3:30pm.

The community is invited and encouraged to help cheer on Soldiers during the two-day ride. Cheer groups are invited to support riders along the return back to the WTB Headquarters as riders enter Gate 1 and loop back to Indiana Ave. by the Division Headquarters before returning to the WTB headquarters at about 3:30pm.


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