Sgt. Andrea Talley fell at least 20 times when she hopped on a bicycle for the first time as an adult. Little by little, she trained and finished her first 425-mile ride last year during Ride 2 Recovery’s Texas Challenge.
Talley said the nonprofit, which is dedicated to improving wounded veterans’ lives through cycling, saved her life.
“I was in a really ugly place,” said Davis who joined the Warrior Transition Brigade in May 2010 after being injured by an explosion in Iraq while she was walking to work. “I went through a complete transformation after I joined Ride 2 Recovery. It opened my eyes to see that I can do stuff still.”
This year, Talley and five Fort Hood cyclists left San Antonio on Monday during the six-day challenge, which ends Saturday in Fort Worth. They will stop at the Residence Inn in Killeen late this afternoon and have a large send-off at 9 a.m. Thursday in front of III Corps Headquarters
The group rode at least 30 miles Monday, Wednesday and Friday and trained Tuesday and Thursday to strengthen their legs to prepare for the ride.
Talley said her No. 1 advice for lengthy rides is “save your legs.” For her, it means alternating between muscle groups, such as her quads and calves.
“You have (six) days of consecutive riding so you have to measure each day out,” Talley said. “You’re going to get stronger as you go, but you can’t just give it your all in one day because the next day you’re not going to be able to do anything.”
First Lt. Kheela Davis, headquarters company commander for Warrior Transition Brigade, worked with Talley for more than a year and said the program helped her grow.
Davis said when she initially met Talley, she stayed to herself and didn’t like crowds.
“She has pushed herself physically, emotionally, mentally, but socially, as well,” said Davis, officer in charge for the adaptive reconditioning program. “She’s able to overcome her fears and do a lot of things that she didn’t think she could accomplish.”
She said finishing the race last year was the greatest feeling in the world.
“When you’re in the Army ... it’s always about teamwork,” Talley said. “(But with the race), nobody did it but me. It was just my own muscles that took me from San Antonio to Fort Worth. Nobody else helped me, it’s my own accomplishment.”
Cycling is important for injured veterans because it speeds up the recovery and rehabilitation process and is an activity that almost all patients with mental and physical disabilities can participate in, according to Ride 2 Recovery’s website.
Talley said cycling changed her outlook on life. She encouraged other soldiers going through difficult times to find what works for them, whether it’s cycling, swimming, a stationary bike, volleyball or something else that will push you both physically and mentally.