Cyclists taking part in a charity fundraising ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles will pass through Ventura County this weekend as they raise money to help rehabilitate injured veterans.
The Ride 2 Recovery Golden State Challenge is raising money for spinning and outdoor cycling programs at military and Veterans Administration locations across the nation. About 150 cyclists, most of them injured veterans, are expected to take part in the ride, which began Sunday in San Francisco and will end Saturday at the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration center.
Cyclists are expected to arrive at the Ventura Beach Marriott from 2 to 3:30 p.m. today. Tonight, they will eat a meal hosted by the Knights of Columbus. They will leave from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday from the hotel for their last leg along Pacific Coast Highway.
Hugh McLarnon from Ventura is taking part in the ride for the first time.
Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, McLarnon enlisted in the United States Army in 1990, rising through the ranks to become a commissioned officer. He left the military in 2004 after suffering a back injury and has lived in Ventura since 2006. He works as an operations manager for a heavy equipment hauler in Santa Paula.
McLarnon said taking part in the Ride 2 Recovery offers him a chance to spend time with people he admires and who have made huge sacrifices for their country.
These young men and women give so much of themselves for so many Americans, he said. The greatest casualty of all is being forgotten, and this is to show them they have not been forgotten.
McLarnon has received the backing of cycling group Ride Ventura and several local businesses in the 460-mile journey.
Ride 2 Recovery was started in 2008 by John Wordin of Calabasas. He runs the nonprofit Fitness Challenge Foundation, which promotes cycling as a tool for the physical and mental rehabilitation of injured veterans.
Cycling is an activity that 95 percent of wounded warriors can participate in whether they have physical or mental challenges, he said, and in that sense, its a unique activity.
There have been several rides to date on both the East and West coasts, raising more than $1 million for the foundations programs, Wordin said.
McLarnon said that cycling is a great way to meet people and make the transition back into civilian life.
Its a way to get out on the open road, and it gives a sense of accomplishment, he said. Its so therapeutic.
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