Who Am I?
I just want to take time this week to explain to every one who I am and why I am doing this bike tour around the United States. Let me start by saying that I am just a normal man who is trying to do something truly amazing for my fellow veterans. I am a Christian man and a man of faith. I believe that God has called me to step out of my comfort zone and attempt to do something that I physically am not able to do on my own. He actually gave me this calling in 2011 and I did 7,500 miles that year but only at the gym. That was not enough and I again was given a calling to do this tour and raise awareness for veterans that are suffering from the effects of PTSD. I will obey Him and with His strength, I will be able to succeed.
I am a disabled United States Navy veteran. I served 9 years as a Navy corpsman and during that time, I injured my knee playing football at Camp LeJeune. I ended up having 3 knee surgeries during my time in the Navy but was eventually forced out on a medical discharge. Since my time in the Navy, I had my right knee total reconstruction surgery on June 30, 2016 and then I had my left knee total reconstruction surgery on August 31, 2017. I am recovering ahead of schedule and pray that both of my knees hold up during my tour. I have been training very hard to get ready and think that I am ready.
Why Am I Doing This Trip?
This is my son, William Hook. He served with the United States Army and did one tour in Iraq. When he came home, he suffered from PTSD and had a very difficult time adjusting back to life in the States. He had nightmares every night and had a difficult time having normal relationships with others. His marriage fell apart and then he turned to alcohol and other medications to ease his mind. He was eventually discharged from the Army. He moved to Ohio in an attempt to fix his broken marriage. He would have some good days but then, out of no where, his mind would be transported back to Iraq and he would become a different person. He was in and out of hospitals and treatment centers and was beginning to show signs of finally getting his life together. Unable to fix his marriage, he began life on his own. He had his own place and was seeking employment. However, something went wrong and he lost his battle with PTSD at the age of 26.
I tried to counsel William after he came back from Iraq but it became evident to me that he needed more help than I could give him. At that time, he did not receive much help from the Army and I started to see that more needed to be done for our young service men and women returning from combat. That is when it was first brought to my mind that I needed to begin raising awareness for PTSD. I wish that I would have listened a long time ago but I know that every thing is done in God’s timing. I now have the energy, the time, and the means to do this tour to raise awareness for those veterans that are suffering from the effects of PTSD. Some of the latest studies show that 22 service people commit suicide every day and more that half of all combat veteran marriages end in divorce. Many of these are due to the effects of PTSD. More needs to be done.
How Do I Plan On Doing This Trip?
Many of you already know that I will be riding my recumbent trike and pulling a loaded trailer behind me. My trike is a Tour II made by Terra Trike company. All my gear is in my trailer. I plan on staying with host families through an organization called Warm Showers. This is an organization that works closely with people that are doing bike tours across the United States. Many of these hosts are also tour cyclists. They offer up their homes for you to have a bed, take a shower, eat a hot meal, and to tell your stories. If no Warm Showers hosts are available for the night, my back-up plan is staying with members of the American Legion. As a member of the Legion myself, this is a very tight knit community of veterans that look out for other veterans. My third plan is to utilize campgrounds that offer tent camping. There are many of these campgrounds located throughout the United States and many offer discounted fees for bikers and/or veterans. My other plans for staying the nights if the first three fail are for me to stay at either churches or to stealth camp.
How Far Am I Going To Travel Each Day?
Most of my days are planned from any where between 40 miles up to 90 miles. My goal is to wake up everyday at 6:00 am and be packed up and ready to ride by 7:00. I plan on riding from 7 to noon everyday and then to take one complete hour off the trike for rest and lunch. I then plan to ride again from 1 to no later than 6pm. My goal is to average at least 10 mph. If I can manage my speed goals, I should be only on the trike until early afternoon everyday. That leaves me with plenty of time to sightsee and to rest each day. I plan to attend church services on Sunday and to up date my blog every Saturday. I plan on taking videos and uploading to YouTube as much as possible. This all depends on the access to WiFi.
How Long Is This Tour Going To Take?
If I can maintain my pace and schedule without any major difficulties or mechanical breakdowns, I plan on leaving on April 4th and begin done by October 14th. I have done a lot of research for my route and tried to balance my longer rides with some shorter rides. I also have looked at the terrain and mountain passes and have adjusted my route accordingly. I have some milestone dates in place and have tried to time my route to be at certain places on certain days. One of the highlight days is when I cross the Golden Gate Bridge, it will be on my dad’s death anniversary. I will be going over Emory Pass in New Mexico at the 1,000 mile mark of my trip. I will be in my birth state of Ohio at the middle of July. I will be in New York on my anniversary. I have many other special dates and locations planned on my tour.
What Am I Going To Eat On My Tour?
For breakfast everyday, I plan on eating quick meals like Pop Tarts, Power bars, Granola Bars, or Oatmeal. For lunches, I plan on using my Kelly Kettle to fix quick meal items like Idahoan Potatoes, Knorr Sides and Rice, Tuna packs, and other like items that don’t require much effort. For dinners, I plan to eat at hosts families and fix hot meals as needed. I will eat plenty of snack items like Peanut Butter Crackers, nuts, fruit snacks, and any other handy food items that I can find. I plan on carrying 2 gallons of extra water with me at all times and will have my water bottles on my trike. I also have a cooler bag that I will be using to keep extra food items and drinks.
How Much Is This Tour Going To Cost?
My budget for this tour is $100 per week for food. That is $400 per month. I also have a budget of $100 per month for fun and entertainment. That gives me a total of $500 per month to be used on my tour. I can possibly do it on a much lower budget but that is what I am figuring for now.
Why Am I Riding 12,000 Miles?
The quick, smart answer is: because that’s how far it is from here to there. The better answer is because I believe that I need to do all four borders of the United States. I am following the Adventure Cycling Association routes and will be doing the Southern Tier, Pacific Coast, Northern Tier, and Atlantic Coast all in one tour. Many tourist do these routes, but usually only one section per tour. I believe that I need to do all the routes to raise the most awareness. Again, many veterans are suffering from the effects of PTSD and they all don’t come from one location or region. I want to raise awareness to all the US.
That is going to end my entry for this week. I will write more next week and if you have any additional questions, please ask me and I will include them in my next blog.