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Latest News 16 November 2018

Blesma join forces with the Wounded Warrior Project for Soldier Ride

Blesma recently joined forces with veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project in the USA to take part in a 4 day cycle across New York City and Long Island. Blesma Member Alec Beer who lost his leg in Northern Ireland tells his experience.  

"Thank you for your service sir!” Turning around to look into the earnest faces of two children, thanking them in return, I continued with my lunch. I was one of six Blesma Members and 50 or so American ex-Service men and women taking part in the Wounded Warrior Project’s threeday cycling event through New York and Long Island.

We had been thoroughly briefed on arrival by Adam Faine, the Soldier Ride manager, as to what was expected of us. The no alcohol rule came as a bit of a shock but made good sense, and we were told there would be a prize for the rider who demonstrated traits such as encouragement and cheerfulness.

Day one started with a 4.30am alarm call. We were taken by coach into New York for the opening ceremony, flanked by motorcycle police who expertly cleared the route. If there is one thing America excels at, it is opening ceremonies. There were crowds cheering, cars honking, the New York Fire Brigade Pipe Band giving it their all, and the American Bombshells in full swing with Old Glory.

And then we were off! Blesma leading, with the hand bikes in front. The first day was a 19-miler from the Fox and Friends studio, over the Brooklyn Bridge, to Coney Island. That afternoon, after the ride, we paid our respects at the 9/11 Museum at Ground Zero.

Over the next two days, we rode (23 and then 27 miles) through the villages and small towns of Long Island, the roads lined with cheering schoolchildren. And, seemingly in the blink of an eye, it it was all over and we were having lunch when the aforementioned children so politely thanked me for my service. 

This amazing journey started for me last year at a Blesma Introduction to Cycling weekend in York. Now I was in New York having just taken part in something that had immediately become a highlight of my entire life. Thank you Blesma!

I must pay tribute to all the people who made the entire event seamless. Of the Warriors whom I met, I think there can be no better cross section of American society. I’m privileged to have got to know them a little bit.

Perhaps a cautionary note is in order: as I mentioned earlier, this was an alcohol-free event for the duration. No question. We were representing Blesma, and perhaps our Army and the United Kingdom were being judged by our conduct.

And the cycling was not a dawdle or a doddle – a blistering pace was set by the entire group. It had to be, as the roads were closed for us – remember this is rush hour New York!

I would also like to thank the British Airways cabin staff who, on our return flight, presented each of us with a bottle of champagne. Finally, that prize I mentioned earlier was won by... me, Blesma Member Alec Beer. God Bless America!"

Our Members enjoying the start line
Cycling through New York City
Out of the city on Solider ride

As featured on Fox & Friends

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