Ride 2 Recovery Texas Challenge day 4: a great visit to 'The Great Place'

Ride 2 Recovery

POSTED: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 8:43pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 9:11pm

Wednesday's 76 mile ride started in Killeen with an incredible tour of Fort Hood, also known as, "The Great Place."  

Thousands of Soldiers lined the streets to cheer, offer high-fives, and provide motivational music as the Ride 2 Recovery cyclists trekked throughout Fort Hood and the skies poured rain.


                (Above photos by Tiffini M. Skuce / Ride 2 Recovery)  

"It felt good, like they're saying they've got your back," said, El Pasoan and recent Army medical retiree, Emmanuel "Manny" Flores.  The Day 4 ride through Fort Hood was a homecoming of sorts for Flores, because it was his first duty station. 

Flores is recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and severe back injuries he sustained in Baghdad, Iraq in 2004 when a car bomb exploded as he was guarding a traffic control point. A former infantryman and squad/platoon leader, Flores said he tried to move on with life, but things just got worse.  That is, until 2010.

That's the year Flores started to get the help he needed and he began cycling.

That is also when Flores participated in his first R2R Challenge in Virginia. He followed that with another challenge in Normandy, France.  And this week, he's on his third R2R Challenge, one he says is his most challenging so far.  

Flores said R2R challenges him and has changed his life. "I don't get choked up and get anxiety anymore when things happen.  I know I can go cycle or go to the gym instead." 

After the ride through Fort Hood, the cyclists took the backroads and rolling hills of Central Texas through Belton and on to Waco.  But, not before stopping at Lakewood Elementary School.


Hundreds of schoolchildren greeted the injured and healing veterans with signs, cheers, and chants of "USA, USA!" 

Flores was quite popular, as the kids asked him for autographs and they shared stories.

After having lunch at the school, the group of more than 200 veterans cycled to Waco, where they'll begin the next leg of their journey on Thursday.

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