Joining the U.S. Army in 1998, Matt DeWitt could never have imagined what would happen five years later. As a Calvary Scout, Matt was part of the initial invasion into Iraq taking Saddam Hussein’s palaces. Next he was patrolling in Khalidiyah when a rocket propelled grenade changed his life forever. Matt lost both of his arms below the elbow in 2003.
After six months at Walter Reed Medical Center, Matt headed home to New Hampshire to figure out what to do next.
He did have one objective: to ride a mountain bike again. A former competitive mountain biker, Matt had won his share of races in high school. But, this was going to be a different ballgame.
Fast forward to November 2011. After an introduction to John Wordin and Ride 2 Recovery (R2R) via Northeast Passage, Matt set off for the R2R Las Vegas Veterans Day Honor Ride. He thought the 40-mile ride on a road bike would be an easier way to get back into cycling.
“Getting on this road bike after riding mountain bikes for so long, I thought it was great!” said Matt. “I went out like a rocket but coming back wasn’t so easy. Scotty (Moro) pushed me part of the way back. No one has pushed me since.
“Shifting and riding in the pack were the most challenging aspects of getting back into cycling again,” he said. “But this year is much better.”
With electronic shifting and braking modifications to his bicycle, Matt has continued training and rode the 333-mile R2R Minuteman Challenge in September 2012. He topped that by completing Newton’s Revenge (mountain) Bicycle Hill Climb on Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the highest peak in New England. He has since “knocked out a couple of centuries with plenty of hills added in.”
Now, Matt has set his sights on the Leadveille 100 – a 100-mile moutain bike event across the high-altitude, extreme terrain of the Colorado Rockies. He will train on the mountains of New Hampshire and then join others on the R2R team a week prior to the race to acclimate to the altitude and test out the race course.
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