Day 5 - Raleigh to Asheboro
“I don’t want a Clif Bar. I don’t want a Gel Shot. I want a sandwich.”
-- Sergeant Audrey Webb at a rest stop.
Before we finish tomorrow in Charlotte, I have to take a moment to shine the light on our support crew. There is so much more to making this ride happen than stepping into the pedals every morning. In addition to our mechanic, Jim O’Brien (who has our bikes tuned to perfection), there is Air Force Reserve Senior Airman Diane Lopes, Sergeant First Class Larry Jester from the Louisiana National Guard, and Mike’s wife, Kim McNaughton. These guys not only make it happen, but they bend over backwards to make life easier for us all. I tip my hat to their selfless service and determination to lend a hand.
Diane was injured in Iraq when an incoming rocket landed next to her. An unexpected knee procedure prevented her from riding with us, but she found a role to play and is very much a part of the team. Diane is the team mom, which means she looks after our every need. Right now, she is driving John around to check the course markings for tomorrow’s ride.
Larry flew in with Mike and Kim McNaughton. In the Army, we’d call him the advanced party. He drives the 20’ Penske truck to the destination city each day and checks us into the hotel. Our bags are already in the room when we pull into the parking lot on our bikes. He gives our team diva special treatment. Today, Mike Vogel’s bed was covered with rose petals and mints on his pillow.
Kim McNaughton is a testament for the spirit of the Army wife. If military life can challenge the strongest marriages, having your husband disfigured by a land mine can certainly complicate a relationship. Mike calls Kim his “rock,” and the person who “keeps him grounded.” While these are often merely clichés, I think Mike has it right. Kim McNaughton has an impressive balance of grit and humor that makes her one tough cookie. Mike gets no special treatment from Kim, nor does he want it. Yet, when he needs a hand, she is there for him. What I find striking is the fact that, no matter how much I might want to, I would never show sympathy. There is no groveling for the McNaughton family.
Personal Record 50 Miles....
Some of the guys from Raleigh’s All-Star Cycling Team joined us this morning. Their escort out of town was better than a police motorcade and all the guys appreciated them coming out to show their support.
This morning in the parking lot, the All-Star squad was talking with one of our wounded warriors, Specialist Marc Molina. Marc is a paratrooper-- on his first bicycle ride ever-- with a quick wit. Diane walked around passing out last minute packets of Chamois Butter (Chamois Butter is a lotion used to help prevent saddle soreness). Mark said to the team, “When we started the ride, I thought that stuff was shampoo… but it did help me go faster.”
Our amputees both had stellar days on the bike. Ferris used medical tape to secure his partial foot to his shoe and rode 50 miles today. Mike rode the full 70 mile stage, although his day was a bit more eventful. Before we got out of the parking lot, he got his prosthetic foot stuck in his pedal and toppled over. He’s lost so much weight that he can’t keep a vacuum lock on his prosthetic. Later in the day, he toppled over again at a stoplight. Shortly after, he flatted and had to hustle to catch the pack. Nevertheless, he finished the ride.
We cleaned up after the ride and loaded a bus, bound for Lowe’s Motor Speedway to have dinner with the VFW. This foreshadowed tomorrow’s monumental ride around the track before the Coca Cola 600. We gorged ourselves on barbecue chicken and ribs and then returned through a frenzy of NASCAR fans, ready to finish our journey.
Get trade secrets for amazing burgers. Watch "Cooking with Tyler Florence" on AOL Food.
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