By BACH Public AffairsSeptember 24, 2015
FORT CAMPBELL, KY. -- Wounded, injured and ill Soldiers from Forts Campbell and Knox pedaled through the hills of Kentucky and the plains of Middle Tennessee in the 3rd Annual Bluegrass Rendezvous Bike Ride Sept. 16-18.
Fifty-two Soldiers assigned to the Warrior Transition Units, cadre and supporters within the Bluegrass State completed the challenging but therapeutic 167-mile ride between the two military installations Friday, Sept. 18.
The annual bike ride is one of many adaptive reconditioning outreach opportunities for Soldiers to get involved, outside of their routine adaptive reconditioning workouts while assigned to the Warrior Transition Units. Soldiers in a Warrior Transition Unit are going through the recovery and transition process, working to return back to active duty or transition to civilian life.
"The Bluegrass Rendezvous Bike Ride has become an annual event our Fort Campbell Soldiers look forward to," said Warrior Transition Battalion commander Lt. Col. Chip Finley. "They are riding with many of their leaders and supporters right beside them. It is focused on the physical and emotional healing of our Soldiers - instilling the confidence that they can succeed through adaptive physical fitness, regardless of their medical conditions."
The Fort Campbell group, consisting of WTB Soldiers, cadre, and staff, met a group of Fort Knox Soldiers and their support team at Fort Knox Sept. 16 for a team-building dinner. Starting early morning Sept. 17, the group of approximately 50 riders rode the first 101 miles to Bowling Green, Ky., where they spent the night. On Sept. 18, the riders biked the remaining 66 miles to Fort Campbell, where Fort Campbell middle school students and their staff, WTB staff, Soldiers and Fort Campbell's leadership welcomed the returning riders coming inside the main access gate at Fort Campbell, passing by the 101st Division Headquarters and the finish line. Soldiers rode standard bicycles, hand cycles, recumbent, and tandem bikes, accommodating each unique Soldier and emphasizing the Soldiers' abilities.
According to Fort Campbell WTB outreach coordinator Capt. Brian Caston, cycling can be adapted for anyone, regardless of physical ability. "That's why this program is so applicable for our population of Soldiers who have varying medical conditions," he said. "Bicycle riding offers more benefits to our Soldiers besides just the physical fitness aspect. As they work through their healing process, Soldiers can experience positive social interaction with other riders as well as relieve stress."
Riders from both Army posts have been training with their respective WTB Adaptive Physical Therapy leaders to ensure they were prepared to take on the physical and mental challenges of a 167-mile bike ride. This event was a milestone for many Soldiers and culminates a transition goal for some.
"They were pedaling together towards a common goal, the finish line," said Sgt. 1st Class Rutledge, Fort Campbell's Adaptive Reconditioning non-commissioned officer in charge. "It's hard to describe the satisfaction I feel as I'm able to witness Soldiers participating in adaptive reconditioning and are now able to achieve new goals that they didn't realize would be possible after an injury or illness."
Rutledge says that his role within the WTB allows him to witness Soldiers overcome their challenges. "The Rendezvous Bike Ride is a fantastic way for Fort Campbell and Fort Knox Soldiers to work together for a common goal while enjoying the great outdoors. Riding beside others who may be experiencing a similar medical challenge and observing how others are overcoming their challenges to meet their goal is therapeutic."
The community members held signs and cheered along the route as they ride the last leg of the 167-mile bike ride Friday, Sept. 18. The bikers were met by the Clarksville Police Department escorting them in Tennessee/Kentucky from Tylertown Road to Fort Campbell's Gate 4 where Military Police escorted them to the finish line.