Written by Maria Yager
Blanchfield Army Community Hospital Public Affairs
Fort 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.