REGION — If you want to be inspired keep reading. Marine veteran Jamie Rihn is taking on the UnitedHealthcare California Ride 2 Recovery from Palo Alto to Los Angeles, not for herself, but to show fellow wounded military they can do it.
On Oct. 18 Rihn started the 516-mile challenge ride with about 200 fellow wounded military and some VIP civilian riders.
The California Ride 2 Recovery is a seven-day cycle trip past scenic shorelines and through small towns. Cyclists peddle through Carmel, San Simeon, Pismo Beach, Solvang and Ventura.
Rihn said people often greet the pack of riders dressed in red, white and blue.
She said her favorite moments are the road stops at schools and time on the road with her military brothers and sisters.
“It takes a lot of mental strength to keep your mind in the game, and physical strength,” Rihn said. “The main reason a lot of injured do it is it keeps our camaraderie together. To talk to somebody else that doesn’t know our story, but is going through the same thing.”
Rihn first took on the annual challenge last year as part of her own recovery from post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
Rihn served in the Marines for 11 years and was deployed four times, three of which were combat tours. She medically retired in 2014.
She now serves as manager of Project HERO at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. She helps fellow military with rehabilitation by using cycling as the core activity to restore heath and purpose.
“I’m one of the first people to get to work with a new patient that’s wounded,” Rihn said. “I help them rehabilitate using a bicycle like I did.”
Rihn meets with wounded military weekly to train them from where they are physically and mentally. She also invites them on daily group rides. They can meet up and join a group ride whenever it fits into their schedule.
Bikes are custom adapted to suit individual needs. Hand cycles, recumbent laid back bikes, tandems and standard road bikes are used by military men and women in the program.
Rihn said one young Marine recovering from head trauma began on a hand cycle bike to compensate for his challenge with balance. He was in a wheelchair, but performed just like fellow riders on the hand bike. In seven months he was out of his wheelchair and onto a standard bike.
Rihn said none of her recovery patients will be joining her on this year’s California Ride 2 Recovery, but she is taking it on to serve as an inspiration for them.
“They’re not going on this challenge, but a couple of them participated in the Army Navy (Ride 2 Recovery) challenge two weeks ago,” Rihn said.
She added the ride that began Oct. 18 is one of the most demanding rides of the six in the Ride 2 Recovery series.
This is the sixth year UnitedHealthcare is serving as the ride title sponsor.
For more information about Ride 2 Recovery or to donate, visit ride2recovery.com.