By Master Sgt. D. Keith Johnson, 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) PAOJune 15, 2016
WEST POINT, N.Y. (June 14, 2016) -- The Team Army cycling team is rolling through the hills of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in preparation for the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games.
Approximately 250 athletes representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Special Operations Command and the United Kingdom Armed Forces are competing for gold, silver and bronze in each of eight sports: archery, cycling, field, sitting volleyball, shooting, swimming, track and wheelchair basketball. Each of the teams is allotted four cyclists per cycling event.
Team Army cycling has one of the largest number of athletes. Twenty seven will compete in five categories: men and women's bicycle open, hand cycle, recumbent cycle, bicycle physical disability and tandem visually impaired. Each service is limited to four cyclists per event. Courses vary from 10-30 kilometers, based on the category. Athletes are slotted into each category based on their wound, illness or injury.
The Team Army Cycling Team has experienced and novice riders.
"We have a lot of lifetime cyclists that are really dedicated to the sport. It's not just a sport, it's part of their life for a lot of these guys," said Si Wilson, the head cycling coach. "We have a couple athletes that had never ridden before that came and wanted to try cycling at the Army Trials. Some had never ridden hand cycles and won medals at the trials."
Wilson, a U.S. Army Veteran, has been a cycling coach for three years with Team Army.
The cycling program starts at the Warrior Transition Unit with the Adaptive Reconditioning Program. Wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and Veterans across the country at the WTUs incorporate adaptive reconditioning into their personalized recovery plans, connecting physical activity with each component of their rehabilitation.
"We have a lot of great site coordinators at the different WTUs that really encourage cycling and make sure that the athletes have great resources," said Wilson.
At this stage of the game, according to Wilson, the fitness routine is already established.
"For the novices, we are trying to instill as much experience as we can, and working on techniques and decision making when it comes to riding," he said. "They're coming in with six months of experience and will be contenders. They're coming in hungry."
The head cycling coach has high expectations for the Team Army Cycling Team.
"We came strong out of the trials," said Wilson. "We feel like we're going to do pretty well. They are here to compete and are working hard at it. We plan on staying high in the medal count for cycling."