Ride 2 Recovery Texas Challenge day 2: the long and winding road
POSTED: Monday, March 24, 2014 - 8:21pm
UPDATED: Monday, March 24, 2014 - 9:32pm
"This will be my first 'century ride' ever." And, with that, LTC John Van Aken completed more than 100 miles during the second day of the Ride 2 Recovery Texas Challenge.
The group started the day under gray, overcast skies of College Station, rode their bikes through the Texas A&M campus, attended a ceremony at the George W. Bush Library, then traveled 101 total miles through the rolling hills of central Texas. They ended the day in Georgetown.
"It was awesome and exciting for me - a real milestone," Aken said after completing the ride in approximately six hours. "I was nervous about this ride, but today was better than yesterday's [shorter] ride," he added.
Aken began cycling just four short months ago after he arrived to the Fort Bliss Warrior Transition Battalion. "I had no interest in cycling until Fort Bliss," Aken said.
Aken, a mobilized reserve officer, was assigned to the WTB after completing his third combat tour where he served as the Senior Advisor to the National Military Academy of Afghanistan, a program modeled after the U.S. Army's West Point.
While deployed, Aken endured emotional and physical injuries; and cycling is the sport that's helping him with his recovery from both.
"It got me out and involved with other people. It's more about the comaraderie than the physical exercise for me," Aken said.
Aken, who's now in the process of retiring from the Army, says he has been so inspired during this R2R Texas Challenge, that he would like to return to duty one day and serve as a WTB commander. He said he would make sure to incorporate events like R2R as a commander. "It's the most important and significant part of the transition and recovery process," Aken said.