Riding for the woundedPublished 9:53pm Monday, August 12, 2013
Two years ago, retired Las Vegas cop Curt Wildemann rode his bicycle across the country solo “to see if I could, to see America.”
This year, for a different reason, the 57-year-old is reprising the epic journey, only with friends and a support vehicle.
After about five others dropped out for various reasons, Wildemann, together with Cliff Multanen, 64, Jim Greer, 67, and 34-year-old Daniella Rivet are at the end of an epic ride to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.
“I thought, why not do it for charity,” Wildemann said Monday in Suffolk, where VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Post 2582 put them up at the Super 8 motel on Main Street and provided a $50 Applebee’s voucher and $25 Walmart gift card.
The 4,233-mile odyssey was due to finish Tuesday in Virginia Beach, after setting out in Astoria, Ore. on June 10.
Traveling 60 miles in an average day, the ride has traversed Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia.
“Somebody contacted us from (VFW) headquarters and said, ‘Hey, they’re coming through, can you help us?’” Post 2582 Quartermaster Kenny Wiseman said.
“I immediately replied … ‘No problem, we got this.’”
Outside the motel Monday, post Commander Bob Grady met the riders and Wiseman told them: “We’re glad to have you in town; we’re glad to see what you are all doing.”
Various other VWF posts have also supported the riders in different ways, Wildemann said.
Before the expedition got under way, Wildemann, whose two brothers served in the military, rendezvoused with Greer in southern Oregon after collecting Rivet in her native Reno, Nev.
The trio rode for four or five days, getting Rivet, then a complete novice, acclimated to cycling, before heading up to Astoria in Oregon’s northwest tip.
Greer, a Marine Corps veteran and “serious cyclist” since about 1970, said he learned about the ride via an adventure cycling group.
“We picked up a guy from the UK, and he stayed with us until yesterday,” Greer said. “For one reason or another, they all dropped off, and now there’s four of us.”
Multanen, a Vietnam vet from Nampa, Idaho, also came across the ride online. “I wanted to do a long tour, and when I saw Curt had a ride across America, and the cause was Wounded Warriors, that was the deciding point for me,” the cyclist of eight years said.
Multanen’s brother’s company, Caldwell, Idaho-based Best Bath Systems, donated the support vehicle and gas. “I wasn’t too excited about doing it without a support vehicle,” Multanen said.
Rivet had been in a corporate job for five years. “I got tired of working in a cubicle and I wanted to change my life,” she said.
Friends who own a bike shop in San Francisco told her the ride was “totally possible.”
“I wanted to ride for a good cause and make it meaningful,” she added. “I definitely had a lot of, ‘Can I do it’ … (but) I just took it one day at a time.”
Wildemann lost his journal “somewhere in Kentucky,” but the ride is generating memories that won’t fade quickly.
“We stayed in Colorado in this campground on the way to the (ride’s) highest peak — 9,400 feet,” he said.
“It was on a lake, it was gorgeous. … That’s probably the one night I will always remember.”
To donate, visit www.rideacrossamerica.us. Donations are processed through the Wounded Warrior Project.