A group of approximately 200 injured veterans and their supporters will set off on Sunday, September 8, on the UnitedHealthcare Ride 2 Recovery (R2R) Minuteman Challenge, a seven-day, 425-mile bicycle ride. The route begins in Lexington, Mass., and will conclude in Philadelphia, Penn., on Saturday, September 14.
Injured active duty and retired military members will be riding hand cycles, recumbents, tandems and road bikes. R2R is not a race “an experience that will challenge [riders] physically, mentally, and emotionally,” according to organizers.
The group is expected to pass through Newtown on Day 3 — Tuesday, September 10. Riders will arrive in Sandy Hook from River Road in Southbury, and continue on Glen Road to Church Hill Road.
A rest stop is scheduled for approximately 2 pm at Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue’s main station, 18-20 Riverside Road.
From there, bicyclers will return to Church Hill Road, traveling the full length of that road before turning right onto Main Street, and continuing on Mt Pleasant Road toward Bethel. Tuesday’s route will conclude in Danbury.
The public is encouraged to gather along the daily ride routes or at the hotels where the group will be staying to support the cyclists. To see daily stops and events along the route, along with the full route (which is subject to change), click here. The route will be marked with orange arrows painted onto the road, and the group will be escorted by American Legion Riders for most of each day.
Ride 2 Recovery, a 501(c)(3), helps injured veterans improve their health and wellness through individual and group cycling. Cycling has proven to be a catalyst in the recovery process by providing a new physical challenge while concurrently helping to cope with psychological challenges. From indoor spinning training at military installations to multi-day, long-distance rides, R2R helps injured veterans heal through the challenge of cycling long distances using hand cycles, recumbents, tandems and traditional road bikes.
“I was an avid mountain biker before joining the Army and didn’t know if I would ever ride again after losing both of my arms below the elbow,” said retired Cavalry Scout Matt DeWitt of Weare, N.H. “Ride 2 Recovery changed that by building a one-of-a-kind bike with electronic shifting and modified braking, which enabled me to return to mountain biking and ride 100 miles through the Colorado Rockies.”
Mr DeWitt and other service men and women train for R2Rs as a means to build strength and conditioning, and to help overcome the challenges many veterans face when returning home from service. Most of the cyclists are introduced to R2R from a Warrior Transition Unit/Battalion or Veterans Affairs facility through R2R’s Project HERO program.
“The UnitedHealthcare Challenge Series offers our healing heroes involved in the Project HERO program a way to get back in the game of life,” said John Wordin, president and founder, Ride 2 Recovery. “We have established 37 Project HERO program locations on military installations and at Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. Participants are evaluated and coached by the R2R staff to rebuild strength and conditioning, while concurrently healing the effects of [post traumatic stress], traumatic brain injuries and depression. Cycling is a powerful therapeutic exercise that they can do alone or in groups for the rest of their lives.”
“We’re honored to support the men and women who have proudly served our country with important programs like the Ride 2 Recovery Memorial Challenge,” said Michael Matteo, executive vice president, UnitedHealth Group. “Exercise and rehabilitation are key to helping injured veterans return to the health and well-being they so richly deserve.”