Tough riders cycle into the storm
By Lance Cpl. Brendan Roethel
| Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort | June 28, 2013
Ulysses, Kan. --
ULYSSES, Kan. - An eerie whistle filled everyone’s ears as the skies opened up, sending heavy winds and rain to the hollow Kansas village.
Lance Cpl. Brendan Roethel
Race Across America
After four days of cycling, covering 1,350 miles between the eight cyclists on Team Walter Reed Bethesda, their goals were jeopardized when they learned a tornado warning was in effect and could threaten their transcontinental journey, during the 32nd Annual Race Across America, June 23.
The race started in Oceanside Calif., June 15, and goes across the country to the finish line in Annapolis, Md. Service members from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort are working to support Team Walter Reed Bethesda, as the team competes in the worlds most challenging bicycle race. The team consists of all combat wounded veterans that were treated at Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Md.
As the storm first started ravaging the quiet Kansas village, locals began to seek refuge in their homes. Stores closed as winds swept the community at 50 miles per hour and rain began flooding the roads. The team’s military characteristics of never giving up and determination were revealed as they decided to continue on with the race.
“We have come too far to take a break because of a little drizzle,” said Keola Dietz, a wounded warrior and cyclist for Team Walter Reed Bethesda from Kaneohe, HI. “We have gone through the heat of Arizona, to the rains and winds of this storm. This team can officially say we cycled through hell and high water together. It’s surreal.”
The racers and crew are always working to be able to fight through the elements while ensuring safety is kept as priority number one, said Staff Sgt. Dexter Williford, a crew member for Team Walter Reed Bethesda and a section leader for Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting aboard MCAS Beaufort. Everyone is working toward a common goal and in order to meet it the team must keep in mind that safety is priority number one.
To make sure the race could go on safely, the racers were followed by vehicles to make sure that other vehicles would not run into them, and shorter distances were traveled by each rider.
By the next morning the roads were dry and the sun was shining as if the storm never happened, and the cyclists mounted their two wheeled chassis and road into the break of dawn.