A ride to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior project
They form an unlikely crew.
A 25-year cop. The high school principal. The retired geologist. The software, real estate and oil guys.
Six men in their 60s will embark this summer on a cross-country journey on road bikes, covering 3,667 miles toward a common goal: raising awareness — and $50,000 — for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Dale Lawrence, 66, Pat Cavanagh, 64, Jim Webber, 66, Darryl Miller, 65, Tom Nelson, 66, and Ed DeMar, 67, all of Irvine, plan to ride 70 to 80 miles each day of the two-month journey.
They train hard. Five of six are retired and meet up Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, cycling on routes hilly and flat that are similar to those they will find on their journey in June. (Cavanagh, who is still working in real estate but plans to retire by the time of the big trek, rides on Saturdays).
Sometimes, the sexagenarians ride from their neighborhoods in Woodbridge and Northwood to the Queen Mary and back. Other times, they’ll pedal to Solana Beach and take the train home.
They plan to travel through Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, at one point crossing into Ontario, Canada. Constantly by their side, but driving, will be 72-year-old Dave Arnesen, a former worship pastor at their church who will ferry the food and water.
In each city the men visit they plan to reach out to the chambers of commerce and American Legion in search of donations to Wounded Warriors. They also hope wounded veterans they meet along the way will lend inspiration by joining them in the journey.
The men have a long history. Over the 30 or so years of knowing each other from Voyagers Bible Church, they formed family like bonds — in one case literally.
Nelson, the principal, and Cavanagh share two grandchildren in common. Two of their children married after meeting in a high school ministry and had kids.
For 10 years, Lawrence, the former police officer, biked the 630 miles from Sacramento to Santa Ana as part of Project 999; his fellow cyclists joined in the last 25 miles.
“There’s life after work,” said Webber, who was in the oil business. “If you have an activity you like doing with friends, you kind of feel how blessed you are.”
“Work is overrated,” he added.
The men, each of who is married, said their wives took well the news of the two-month hiatus.
“What we found out was it wasn’t really a hard sell,” said Miller, the retired geologist.
On Thursday the men will bike from the Irvine train station to San Diego and ride around Camp Pendleton with injured veterans recovering in the on-base hospital.
“It’s a good training ride for us, and it gives us a chance to meet some of these wounded warriors,” Webber said.