By Richard Rhinehart
Holbrook, New York, November 7, 2012 – On a cool, late May morning, a group of 14 disabled veterans and two assisting pilots set off on bicycles, hand cycles and recumbent bikes from San Francisco. Riding north across the Golden Gate Bridge, their destination was Virginia Beach, Virginia, a two month, nearly 4,000 mile journey to the east. The new book, “Shining Seas,” from North Carolina’s Reimann Books, documents the inspiring 2012 Sea to Shining Sea ride.
Written by ride director Mike Claver, Rachael Rosen, and Jeanna Buck, with Abby Bergakker, the 108-page softbound book includes full color photographs from six photographers, including Parker Feierbach, who traveled with the team across the continent. It is available for purchase through the Reimann Books website.
Presented by State Farm and directed by the non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports, the Sea to Shining Sea provided an opportunity for veterans with disabilities to challenge themselves by riding cross-country. Their journey brought inspiration and hope to other veterans, disabled persons and the general public nationwide. Participating riders included veterans from wars and conflicts from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq, who received injuries or disabilities during their service, or who overcame life-threatening illnesses. These veterans, who successfully rode through 14 states and the District of Columbia, live with disabilities ranging from loss of limbs to blindness to Post Traumatic Stress.
Leaving behind the San Francisco Bay area of central California, the team rode through the high Sierras, into the range and basin terrain of northern Nevada. Passing through Salt Lake City and the Wasatch and Uintah Mountains of northern Utah, the team crossed the Colorado Rockies at Loveland Pass on the Continental Divide, an 11,990-foot pass west of Denver. Descending along the Arkansas River valley into Kansas, the riders found themselves riding in record summer heat, with temperatures reaching 110 degrees or higher each day. In St. Louis, Missouri, the team rode in the annual Veiled Prophet Parade on Independence Day, before an audience of tens of thousands and a regional television audience. Passing through southern Illinois and Indiana, the team received a hero’s welcome in small communities such as Salem, Olney and Aurora. Following a warm welcome to Cincinnati, the team rode northeast through Ohio and West Virginia to a gala dinner in Pittsburgh. A somber visit to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania was next, along with the first major rains of the team’s journey. In Washington, the team visited disabled patients at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and paid their respects to their fallen compatriots at the Arlington National Cemetery. Nearing the end of their ride, they headed south to the Governor’s mansion in Richmond and the historic community of Williamsburg. On the afternoon of July 28, the team rode into the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean at Virginia Beach.
“This country is still full of patriotism,” said Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Michael Sanders of his two month ride. “There are many people who truly respect the military and are very appreciative of the sacrifices we make.”
“Crossing the country and driving into these one-horse towns completely alters any perception a person may have had about them beforehand,” said photographer Parker Feierbach. “We’d arrive in these towns, and whether 200 or two people welcomed us in, they were all proud to be a part of the United States. You could see it in their eyes, in the way they held tight their flags. Those who knew we were coming welcomed us with such fervor that it was as though we were returning home, not visiting, not simply passing through.”
The 2012 Sea to Shining Sea ride was supported through generous sponsorships by State Farm, American Portfolios, MWV, Dominion, the Semper Fi Foundation, the USO, BNY Mellon, General Electric, GM FCO, Brown Shoe Company and Famous Footwear, Energizer Holdings, Altria, EnerSys, Occidental Petroleum, Magaschoni, Penske Truck Rental, Vedder Price, AR Capital, the El Pomar Foundation, Recycle for People, and George Puskar. Individual sponsorship support for riders also helped cover expenses for the journey.
For further information about the Sea to Shining Sea ride, visit World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ official ride website. A 2014 ride is planned.