I live with cycling at the center of my life. Like most here, I’m fortunate that it can take such a prominent role in our lives. We rise to ride, sleep to recover and push ourselves to excel, but there is more. This past June I had the chance to work with a group of active and retired, able and disabled military on a new project called Vet Expeditions (VET-Ex). The goal of the program is to invite a group of veterans to train for a summit bid on California’s 14,162 foot Mt Shasta. My job was to do baseline testing and write the training program they would use in preparation for the climb. In June I joined a group of twelve individuals, representing all branches of the military and spanning conflicts from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, for our testing and wilderness orientation weekend in Boulder CO. The experience was profound as much for the opportunity to work with these stalwart defenders, as for the insight into the difficulties many face upon returning to the day to day.
What does this have to do with cycling? The answer is really two fold. First, many of the Vet-Ex team tell me they enjoy the structure and expectation offered by the training program. The return to civilian life often derails a soldier for at least a little while and training for something gives them a sense of purpose each day, a way to focus their energies. Not so different from you or I. The second part builds on the first. I am a coach and run a small cyclocross team in Northern California. A few days ago one of our sponsors, Health Education for Living with Pain (HELP), a committed advocate for veterans, read about my work with the VET-Ex project and thought we should do something similar for those vets who love cycling. So, we are looking for two vets to ride for our cyclocross team this season. Although preference will be given to “A” level riders living in NorCal, applicants can be from anywhere and race at any level. HELP will cover the cost of the athletes coaching, entry fees, and clothing, nearly $800 worth of stuff. In addition our other sponsors will provide some additional free product and exceptional pro-deals to help round out the racing experience. If you are a vet who loves cyclocross, or know of one who might be interested, please drop us a line via an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you the full details. You have to hurry though; we need to have riders in place by September 1st!