BY RICHARD RHINEHART
Washington, D.C., May 5, 2011 – For three days in April, two wounded warriors rode with their former Commander-in-Chief in the high desert of southwestern Texas.
Through the Veterans Initiative of the George W. Bush Foundation’s Warrior 100K Ride, Scott Bilyeu of San Antonio and Joshua Davis of Vail, Arizona rode 100 kilometers on mountain bikes with the former President in Big Bend Ranch State Park April 25-27, 2011.
“It is something that will never be forgotten,” said Bilyeu following his participation in the ride, “The support, along with the warriors, all were great.”
“It was very challenging,” said Davis, “but fun and well organized.”
With 14 wounded warriors from World T.E.A.M. Sports, the Challenged Athletes Foundation, the Ride 2 Recovery and the Wounded Warrior Project, the Warrior 100K Ride honored American servicemen and women for their efforts and sacrifices in serving the nation. During the three days of riding and social time at the Lajitas Golf Resort, the wounded warriors had the opportunity to meet and ride with President George W. Bush, as well as seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and illusionist David Blaine.
Davis had the fortune to be seated next to Armstrong during dinner one night. “I was excited to let Lance borrow 20 bucks for a trick with David Blaine,” Davis recalls. “I told him I was going to tell all my friends I let Lance Armstrong borrow some money. He and David both signed and returned it, so I was excited.”
Bilyeu was impressed with the 64-year-old former president and his riding abilities. “He is a mad man,” said Bilyeu. “For awhile, I thought he might be a robot in disguise, until I saw that he does bleed.”
Davis reports the riders were warned that Bush was a strong rider. “We asked him [the president] about it,” said Davis, “he told us he was there to honor the military so there was no way he was going to be weak about it.” Davis spent some time visiting with the former president. “He seems like a very genuine and down-to-earth guy with a cheesy sense of humor.”
Bilyeu reports that riding with Bush and Armstrong was not his only thrill for the event. “The last night at the hotel I was sitting watching T.V.,” he recalls. “There was a really big moth that was flying around. Well, I hit it once, not thinking much about it. Then, when I was getting ready to go to bed, I thought I needed to get that moth out. After a minute of trying to get it out, I realized it was a bat!” After five minutes of coaxing the bat from its roost, Bilyeu was successful in sending it on its way.
Participants of last summer’s World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Sea to Shining Sea cross-country ride, both Bilyeu and Davis are currently pursuing scholarly studies at universities. “I still ride quite a bit,” Davis said. “Somehow, I squeezed in my first marathon. My time wasn’t too impressive, but I completed it and that was a nice feeling.”
Learn more about the Warrior 100K Ride: World T.E.A.M. Sports Athletes Honored by President Bush, World TEAM Sports Warriors to Participate in Ride with President Bush.