Wounded veterans cycle through SLO County

More than 50 wounded veterans and their supporters cycled through San Luis Obispo County on Wednesday as part of the UnitedHealthcare California Challenge.

The 400-mile, five-day ride from Santa Cruz to Ventura benefits Project Hero, a nonprofit that helps veterans and first responders affected by injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

Day 3 of the ride ran from San Simeon to Pismo Beach, with a water break at Morro Bay High School and a stop for lunch at the American Legion Post No. 66 in San Luis Obispo. The riders will arrive in Ventura on Friday.

The riders make the journey with hand cycles, recumbent bikes, tandems and traditional road bicycles.

Among the participants this year was 69-year-old Cambria resident Glenn Baldwin, who was in his second year joining the ride, according to a news release.

“It’s just the camaraderie and showing my support. It’s an amazing event,” Baldwin said of why he chose to participate on his “nuclear” yellow road bike. “These riders have disabilities and for them to be able to go out and get on a bike and ride six or seven days in a row like this is just above and beyond. It takes a lot of dedication and perseverance.”

Local veterans along the tour route, such as Baldwin who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam era and who has a son in the Army, are invited to ride with the group on a single-day basis.

In 2016, Baldwin, who regularly pedals about 250 miles a week, was on his usual training route when he saw the Challenge riders go by. He tagged along with them for a while. “I talked with them and was very impressed with what was going on with the whole ride and everything,” he said.

For more about the event, visit www.projecthero.org.

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