Rhode Islander Rides his Bike Across the United States for Wounded Veterans
Lincoln native Bob Bradley moved out to Colorado twenty years ago, but it was always his dream to bike his way back home. The forty-seven-year-old accomplished his goal this month after pedaling about 2,300 miles over eighteen and half days. And he did it all for charity.
Bradley raised $1,500 for Wounded Warriors, a non-profit organization that provides unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members. The funds will set a wounded veteran up with a chance to learn how to ski at an adaptive ski school in Colorado. Bradley left Vail on Sept. 1 and arrived in Lincoln on Sept. 21, after taking a break for sightseeing in Chicago.
The avid cyclist used Google Earth to plan his course along Route 34 and Route 6, but he had to contact the Departments of Transportation in Nebraska and Iowa for help planning the safest, most direct route, as he could not cross highways. He rode 130 miles a day, spending some nights in hotels, and camping out every other night at state parks or by the side of the road if there were no other options. “Sometimes it was too dark or I couldn’t find a hotel,” he says, adding that he traveled with supplies, a sleeping bag and tent.
"People could tell I wasn't out for an everyday bike ride," he says.
At one point, he had to hitch a ride from a stranger across the Tapan Zee Bridge in New Jersey after he was forbidden to cross it, but the man who helped him turned out to be veteran. Bradley made a friend along the way.
“The ride was a life-changing experience,” says Bradley. “I can not believe the support I got from absolute strangers. Along the way, I met so many people who would ask me about what I was doing and why, and they’d just hand me money and wish me luck.”
Wounded Warriors and the adaptive ski school are near and dear to Bradley’s heart, as his father and brother were both in the military and his brother works with wounded veterans as chief administrator at the VA Hospital in Boston. His close friend works at the ski school.
“I am a skier. I ski almost every day in Colorado. I go and see these guys and it’s just humbling to watch,” Bradley says. “I want to see these veterans living life again. I want to give them something to look forward to.”