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Meet the W100K Warriors

Article by George W. Bush Presidential Center April 21, 2011 //   16 minute read

Before the W100 gets started next Monday, take a minute to meet each of the heroic warriors taking part in this 100 kilometer adventure. Their photos and bios can be found on the Rider Bios section and in addition, we asked each warrior to respond to two questions: "What are you most looking forward to about the W100" and "What has cycling meant to you?". Read what the warriors had to say in their own words:

"What are you most looking forward to about the W100?" 

What I am looking forward to the most is to bike with the President.  I mean how many people can say they mountain biked with the president.  It is something I can tell, and show my son with pics.  Not only that but also to meet all my soon to be new friends that I will make there. - Scott Bilyeu

The heat!  Although spring is almost here in the great state of Alaska, the morning bike commute is still a balmy 28 degrees, so a few days riding without frost nip will be awesome. –Marc Hoffmeister

The thing I am most looking forward to about the W100 is having the chance to interact with President Bush at on a more personal level than most people get the chance to.  I am hoping to inquire about some of the tough decisions he was forced to make during a period in our history that helped define my generation. – Dillon Behr

Spending three days enjoying the great Texas outdoors, riding with friends and fellow warriors and of course riding with, and the fellowship we will all enjoy with, President Bush. – Chris Self

This is a once in a life time opportunity. I will be riding with friends that I already know, and will be getting to meet some new people as well. Most of all I am getting to hit the trails with the 43rd President of the United States of America. – Jacob Lerner

When I first arrived at Walter Reed back in '04 President Bush came by the hospital to pay his respects to the wounded.  While he was there he found out our Purple Hearts had just arrived, and asked the staff if he could stick around to pin them on a few of us.  A particular magazine was following him around during his visit because he was just voted "Man of the Year" and they took pictures when he came to visit and pin my Purple Heart.  That was one of the biggest moments in my life and one that I've cherished.  I've always taken pride in my military service and my country and I've always respected President Bush because I believe he feels the same.  So I guess the opportunity I'm looking forward to the most is spending time with him.  I can't help but think this bike ride will be even better than his visit to Walter Reed. – Andy Hatcher

I'm obviously looking forward to meeting President Bush. I'm also looking forward to reuniting with my buddies Dillon and Jake whom I met and cycled with while recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. – Kenneth Butler

Meeting President Bush and having the opportunity to ride my bike alongside him and the other wounded warriors that will also be there. I have never been to Big Bend and I am looking forward to this amazing experience that I will remember for the rest of my life!!! – Carlos Hernandez

The combined experience of riding new trails with other Warriors, some of whom are already friends, and President Bush.  – David Haines

I'm looking forward to riding with President Bush, obviously, and also re-acquainting myself with the other riders.  I know most of them, although haven't seen many in a few years.  We've all been through a lot of life changes, rehabilitation, separation from the military, and new challenges both professionally and personally, so it will be a great opportunity to catch up. – Patricia Collins

What I am looking forward to the most about the W100 is having another opportunity to challenge myself and to do so with men and women who have given so much for our country and lifestyle.  They say great things happen when great people are involved, and I love to be around when that happens. – Joshua Davis

The Warrior100 means quite a bit to me, the opportunity to ride with President Bush is a huge honor. I for one have always been a big supporter of his and privileged to serve under his presidency. Riding with fellow teammates is always fun and ultimately competitive. But more importantly it’s the bond we all share and the mentorship we get from one another. The most important thing is showing all the other men and women of our armed forces who may be dealing with physical or mental injuries: you are still warriors and you can overcome adversity with your teammates and support like the Warrior100. – Sam Cila   

Riding through the mountains of West Texas has always been a dream of mine and to be able to do it with someone as admirable as President Bush is truly icing on the cake! All throughout college my friends and I talked of such a trip but never made it happen and I am so excited to finally be able to do it. Now, riding with President Bush speaks for itself.... I mean he was my boss (commander in chief), our country's leader and a Texan. I have always been proud of President Bush and can't wait to get to know him as a man. – Bryce Cole


"What has cycling meant to you?" 

Biking with World Team Sports, across America with my comrads in the Sea to Shining Sea inspired so many people during our journey. We saw so many people that had there own challenges along the way.  Those families inspired me with their stories, their kindness, and the journey they have had to make.  they gave love with there eyes, and tenderness with their heart when they spoke.  All in all what cycling has meant to me is: it is a way that I can push myself and anyone else that I can, to be better; bye telling my story. - Scott Bilyeu

Cycling has been my open window when the doors were closed back to living.  I started up while I was in recovery at the Naval hospital in San Diego, and immediately found benefit in my recovery, with some balance issues I was having, as well as a surge in confidence that I could do things that seemed to be a reach.  In the past two and a half years I've got to continue with it and meet such great people along the way and do a little part to honor the sacrifices of so many of my heroes. – Joshua Davis

Cycling is the great equalizer for me. I forget about being an amputee, the bike makes me feel like a kid again. It keeps my mind fresh and lets me set new standards for myself. – Sam Cila

Mountain Biking has really been an important part of my recovery process. Being outdoors and active was a big part of what I lost from my injuries, but mountain biking was really a "low impact" activity that offered a rush of adrenaline that made you feel like anything was possible. Overcoming obstacles and doing things on a bike you never thought you could do is extremely rewarding. – Bryce Cole

Cycling to me has been a replacement of another form of exercise that I am not supposed to do anymore: running.  Cycling gives me an endurance exercise that helps keep me in shape and my prosthetic hip moving.  It is also a challenge, as I never used to cycle before my injury.  Mountain biking personally is exhilarating to me, as it gets me 'off the concrete' and out in natural environments, which I love. – Dillon Behr

Cycling has been the foundation for my recovery. At a time when running and road marching was too much impact, cycling was perfect to work on my fitness until I was able to return to higher impact exercise. Cycling has always been a great way to relax and source of adventure, and I intend to always enjoy the road and trail on top of a FAST bike. – Chris Self

I love everything about the sport.  It was an emotional thing for me to get back on my bike during my recovery.  It hurt, but I was so happy to be able to just spin my bike on a stationary trainer in my basement when I still could not do a lot. It made me feel like I could see a light at the end of the tunnel during a very challenging point in my life. I enjoy the fitness, being outdoors, the evolving technology of the equipment and training, achieving personal goals, the social aspect, and the history. I love to watch the strategy and tactics of the professional races as well as the fact that it is a visually striking sport.  Seeing a large group of cyclists on the road whether they are racing or just riding is inspiring to me. I like the fact I can ride for three hours and "chow down" afterwards! – David Haines

To me, cycling has been a lifelong activity that, until being injured, I took for granted.  Now, post-injury, cycling has become a source of fitness, enjoyment, and personal accomplishment, as well as an opportunity to demonstrate to others that disabled cycling is both possible and rewarding. – Kenneth Butler

I really wish that these words could show how I really feel about cycling, but I will do the best that I can by describing it as best as possible. Cycling has played a big role in my recovery process not only in a physical way, but most of all emotionally and mentally. Cycling has tremendously helped me in becoming a better walker and runner with the use of my prosthesis. Because of cycling I have been able to make advancements much faster than other patients that do not cycle and that use a prosthesis.  When I feel upset, depressed or disturbed I grab my bike and go for a long ride on the road, or take out my aggression on the trails on my mountain bike. Biking helps me relax when I feel anxious or mentally stressed. Being able to feel the wind on my face and enjoying the beauty that surrounds us while riding is worth the pain that I get on my leg from time to time when riding. – Carlos Hernandez

I've been a cyclist and triathlete for the past 22 years. Unlike the other riders who were injured in IZ or AF, I was injured as a result of being struck by an automobile while cycling.  So, while I lost so much because of cycling, it has given me back exponentially. I've recovered physically and emotionally because of cycling. After losing my leg in 07, one of the first things I was able to do, 7 weeks later, was ride my bike.  It was July 4, 2007. It was really celebrating my freedom to ride again.  It is my stress relief after a long work day, it is my socialization because my best friends all ride bikes, it is my way to see new places and it is my spiritual renewal.  When you are cycling somewhere at a slower pace than driving, you are forced to stop and smell the roses and really look closely at what is around you.  That is both physical and philosophical.  Cycling is one of those activities that is as much fun at 40 as it was riding your first 10-speed as a 12 year old on summer vacation.  It's the first taste of freedom and independence I had growing up and my perspective hasn't really changed. – Patricia Collins

What cycling means to me? Well I love to ride! I enjoy the outdoors and will do anything I can to be out there. Mountain biking has given me the opportunity to enjoy what some call an extreme sport, but I say it’s the most enjoyable way to get a really good work out. It’s the best way to work out and prove to myself that just because I have part of my leg missing doesn’t mean I am unable to do the things I love to do. I think it would be unfair to those whose injuries make my injury look like a paper cut, if I was to sit around and feel sorry for myself. – Jacob Lerner

Oh jeez.   Bike racing is my obsession.   When I was recovering as an outpatient at Walter Reed, I was introduced to the sport of triathlon through a nonprofit called Challenged Athletes Foundation and was later part of their guinea-pig program called Operation Rebound.  When the Olympics went to Beijing I got gold fever and wanted to pursue the opportunity to represent my country on the international stage but at the time triathlon was not a medal sport.  My strong suit was cycling.  Little did I know how competitive it really was!  I still haven't made it to an international event, but I'm on the radar.  I've made the commitment so I'll keep trying until I get it. – Andy Hatcher

Freedom.  Cycling has given me the means to recover physically from my wounds, to experience new places and to meet new people sharing in the same journey. My bike is an old and trusted friend that has been there without complaint, whether I was setting a personal record, racing the eco-challenge or slowly struggling to rebuild my broken body after my wounding. – Marc Hoffmeister

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