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Article from The Press-Enterprise

by EP on August 5, 2010

Army Captains cycle across country for cause

By JERRY SOIFER
Special to The Press-Enterprise

As if they had not endured enough danger during multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, three U.S. Army captains risked their well-being by riding their bicycles 3,800 miles across the country on the road to being mustered out of active duty. They used leave time to make the trip.

Dan Marques, 27, a Norco High graduate, joined Army buddies Joel Glover, 27, of Abilene, Texas, and Pete Phipps, 28, of Hudson, Ohio, in culminating their nearly two-month ride Sunday at the Dos Lagos shopping center in Corona where they were greeted by a crowd of 200. They had spent the night before at Marques’ parents’ home in Corona.

The crowd stood on both sides of the street to wave American flags as the cyclists completed their trip. A Corona Fire Department ladder truck hoisted a huge American flag high above the crowd. Corona Mayor Karen Spiegel and Corona Chamber of Commerce President Bobby Spiegel showered praise on the veterans. [click to continue reading...]

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Pete’s final note

by EP on August 4, 2010

To Our Great Supporters,

As I sit here with slightly stronger thighs and calves, a hideous sock tan, and chapped lips from 50+ days and 3,800+ miles on a bicycle, I’m reminding myself how and why this whole idea came about.

It was the fall of 2008. Dan and I were over in Afghanistan, keeping each other company with sporadic calls and emails from our respective combat outposts and operating bases. We weren’t sure what the next day would bring about in a place like Afghanistan, but we were certain we wanted to embark on an adventure of some sorts when we eventually returned to American soil. Having been partners in crime with Dan since we were 18 year old new cadets at West Point, the decision process on cycling nearly 4,000 miles with little to no cycling background was neither in depth, calculated, nor thorough in the least. It took even less time to find a third partner. Joel was in Iraq at the time and I knew he was going to have some time off during the summer of 2010 as well. In order to provide accurate information on this entry, I dug up the original email I sent Joel regarding the proposed trip…

“JG-
This will be a spiritually epic adventure among three friends who endured four years of strict military schooling and then five years of honorable military service in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. This is our way of finally enjoying our personal freedoms and reuniting with the country we love.
Are you in?
-Petey”

Within minutes I received an email in my inbox from Joel, with the reply:

“Hell yes.”

Having been stationed in Okinawa, Japan from 2006 until 2010 with 12 months in Afghanistan in 2008-09, I very much viewed this bike ride as a chance to reunite with America. I wanted to check the pulse of America and its people. I wanted to see small town America. I wanted to have random conversations with complete strangers. I wanted to ride on roads my car will never travel down, instead forced to race down clogged interstates to meetings, ball games, and social events for the rest of my life. I wanted to eat as many slices of homemade pie as I could. I simply wanted to remind myself how great America really is.

Once the three of us blindly agreed to this ambitious goal, it only made sense to turn this into a charity ride and try to do it for a meaningful and important cause. The three of us know fellow high school classmates, fellow West Point classmates, and fellow soldiers who have been directly affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It goes without saying we care very deeply for our friends in uniform, so it only made sense to raise as much money as possible for those who simply weren’t as fortunate as us during their time overseas. Plus, we knew if we were ever in need of some extra motivation as we trekked across America, riding on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project would certainly give us that boost.

Now that the ride has concluded, we’re fielding a great deal of questions about our experiences on the road and will undoubtedly continue to do so. Some of the questions are easy to answer, while others take some thought and genuine consideration. Sometimes I find myself unable to answer even the simplest of question, as these memories are experiences I’ll forever cherish, but can’t necessarily be put in any sort of ranking or told as some wildly entertaining tale at a dinner table. No matter a significant memory or simply just a small recollection, every single moment of this trip will always be something special to me.

There were the big moments, such as riding through the Boston harbor on Day 2, cycling through Thayer Gate and returning to West Point for the first time since graduating in 2005, riding across the George Washington Bridge with the Manhattan skyline towering over the Hudson River, pedaling up to the National Mall and stopping at the Lincoln Memorial, seeing the Gateway Arch as we passed through St. Louis, and most recently, coming down the hills into Sausalito, California and seeing the very top of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, a sight we had longed for since early June…and a sight that admittedly brought chills to my skin.

Those memories are the obvious landmarks and highlights, but we each have our own smaller, more personal memories that are just as ingrained in our minds. I’ll never forget pulling out of Portland, Maine in the pouring rain and looking down at an odometer that read “0″ and knowing I had roughly 3,800 miles to go; feeling like my bicycle was going backwards up several severe inclines in the Appalachians; getting multiple flat tires before we even left a campground in rural Pennsylvania; crossing into my home state of Ohio, which at the time I thought was so far from Maine; having the chance to ride alongside my mom, both my brothers and to have my dad and sister-in-law tag along for those days; leaning at what felt like a 45 degree angle to the left for hours just to keep the bike upright in the gusting Kansas winds; seeing the Rockies for the first time in the distance and knowing we would be battling them for days to come; feeling the sun burn our skin and boil our water bottles in the Utah desert during the infamous 130 mile day in 110 degree weather; getting up to 8,000+ feet on our last real climb in the Sierras, a feeling of relief knowing it was all downhill to San Francisco; and running my bike through 100+ yards of beach sand to reach the Pacific Ocean, thinking about how many people played a part in our success and ability to achieve our goal, and how much it meant to them as well.

I would like to thank the fourth member of our team, someone who helped us out every single day of the trip but never wanted or received any of the credit, my brother Eric. If you’ve enjoyed reading about our adventures or taking time to look at some of the pictures, and especially if you were generous enough to donate to the WWP, that’s because Eric was nice enough to create, maintain, and update this entire site for us. Eric has a full time job, a wife, a two year old daughter and a two month old son, yet he did all of this for free and during what little free time he has. Special thanks to Eric’s wife Stephanie as well, for allowing Eric to be apart of our team this summer. Eric takes great pride in making this as good a site as possible, and he’s proof that you don’t need to have served in the military to truly love America and support those who gave so much for this great country.

Some other thanks I need to mention are my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, uncles and grandfather for their support this summer. Thanks to Meg for helping with the Public Relations side of this project. Big shout out to John David and Matt for taking care of Norman for the time I was gone this summer. Thanks to those who’ve been in direct contact with me this summer regarding getting the word out and trying to get as much in donations as possible.

Thanks to all the great Americans we came across this summer as well as each of you who actually went online every day and tracked our progress. We still get a big kick when people tell us about how these updates became apart of their daily routine and how certain people had their designated maps to track us across the country. Since we were always so preoccupied with getting from one town to the next this summer, we never really had a gauge as to how many or how few people were actually following us. Some days we felt too lazy or tired to write an update, but we figured we owed it to our own mothers to at least let them know we were fine; little did we ever know so many people found some entertainment and maybe even a bit of inspiration from our journey. We hope you’ve enjoyed the experience and know that each of you played a part in our success, and more importantly, helped our wounded heroes who will now receive the benefits that come with the money that was raised.

Also, I would like to thank Dan and Joel. Not only did they put up with me for two months, they were the best of friends and the most supportive riding partners I could have asked for. People always joked with us, asking how sick of each other we had grown. The truth is we were laughing just as hard with each other and at each other on the last day as the first day. As if the trials and tribulations of West Point and deployments to combat zones don’t bring you close enough, this ride forged an even stronger bond amongst us; a connection and friendship I know I will carry with me forever.

In conclusion, I simply encourage everyone to get out and do something epic, whatever that may be. We’ve never been cyclists. We aren’t professional adventure athletes. I can admit that while in Japan I finished dead last in the only cycling event I ever entered and nearly drowned in the East China Sea during my only triathlon. The first flat tire I ever fixed was during this bike ride. When people tried to over analyze our route or questioned how we were going to pull this off, we always joked, “Well, we have A LOT of heart.” I’ll never forget immediately after riding across the Golden Gate Bridge, beaming with pride and relief, Dan casually said, “Not bad for three guys who didn’t know what they were doing.”

Jack Kerouac, in the American classic, On the Road, said, “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved…” We were mad enough to pull this off, so I encourage you to jump into something with the same innocent excitement we fueled ourselves with this summer.

Thanks again for your support. Please check back tomorrow for Dan’s final entry then Joel’s on Friday; and feel free to make one final donation.

Cheers,

Pete

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Some personal Thank You’s…

by EP on August 4, 2010

Over the next several days, each of us would like to share our appreciation for those who supported us this summer, as well as offer a few memories and thoughts we have after such an epic adventure. This summer we rotated writing the daily updates, but in order to make sure we thank the right people and give credit where credit is due, we’ll each write our own last entry; Pete on Wednesday, Dan on Thursday and Joel on Friday.

Aside from our own personal messages we’ll write, the three of us would like to thank the following people for playing such a significant role in our journey this summer.

Thank you to those who were generous enough to host us in their houses, apartments, and hometowns as we passed through this summer…

- Pat in Boston, Massachusetts
- Lynda and Craig in Highland Mills, New York
- Liz, Barrett and Katey in Baltimore, Maryland
- The Riley Family in Wilmington, Delaware
- Scott for his vacant apartment in Washington, D.C.
- Bill and Jan in Leawood, Kansas
- Mike in Telluride, Colorado
- Aunt Mary and the crew in Cedar City, Utah
- Aunt Julie, Uncle Randy and Eric in Sacramento, California
- Dean and Lois in Corona, California

Along those same lines, we would like to thank Tara in Delaware, Patrick in Massachusetts, and Meagan in Texas for pulling some strings within their hotel companies and hooking us up with some rooms along the way.

We would like to thank our guest riders and those who tagged along with those riders, to include…

- Shannon, Morgan and Little Jane from Baltimore to D.C.
- Eric, Jill, Bill, and Rockne in Ohio
- Vic and Erika in St. Louis, Missouri
- Andy and Sarah in Gunnison, Colorado
- Mike in Telluride, Colorado
- Mario in Colorado
- Kelly and Lauren in California
- Kevin in San Francisco

Some more thanks to those who offered escorts, warm greetings and farewells for us as we traveled, to include:

- Jacques, Erin, Al and Nancy, Dahana, Coach, Jane and the rest of the Portland, Maine crew for an amazing send-off
- The Portland Police Department for the escort
- Our friends in Boston and New York City who came out to greet us and wish us well
- The Wilmington Police Department for their impressive and aggressive escort
- Everyone in Wilmington, Delaware, to include the staff and ownership at Kelly’s Logan House, especially Drew
- Family and friends that met us in D.C. and Baltimore
- Colonel Larsen and the soldiers and friends we met at Walter Reed Army Medical Center
- The Crested Butte crew that spent the day and many laughs with us
- JB for greeting us in Pueblo, Colorado
- The mayor and numerous supporters in Cedar City, Utah
- The Bay Area West Point Society for hosting us in San Francisco, especially Larry, Frank and Nina
- The city of Corona, California and all of those who came out for our finishing ceremony

Along the way we met so many generous people, many of whom paid for our meals, drinks and even hotel rooms. We can’t thank those new friends enough for their kind acts towards three strangers riding through on bicycles. Moments like these say a lot about Americans and how we treat each other, so we wanted to take a moment to thank them as well.

This blog entry could go on for hours if we kept at it, so we’ll leave some of the more personal thanks to our own entries over the next three days. We hope everyone has enjoyed these updates as we rode from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Again, we hope you enjoy our final entries over the next three days and thanks again for showing your support by checking in on the site this summer.

- The XC10 Guys

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Your chance to own a piece of our ride!

by EP on August 3, 2010

The much anticipated and highly sought after jersey can now be yours. We felt stronger and faster just putting these on our backs, trust us. Cyclone Sportswear has been gracious and offered to make a run of these jersey’s for our fans and followers. You will have 15 days to purchase this jersey and once we finish taking orders, these are gone! A portion of every sale will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project so not only can you feel great wearing the jersey, you can feel even better knowing you yet again supported a great cause.

Due to the nature of this sale we can only except shipping to the Continental US. All other orders will require additional shipping charges, please contact us for details.

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