Randy Roscoe of the Wounded Warrior Project peddles down Pennsylvania Avenue Wednesday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
He has ridden for more than a year and traveled through 17 states. He has been featured in 35 newspapers, on four TV stations and 22 radio stations. But it’s not for him — Randy Roscoe is riding to spread awareness of the Wounded Warrior Project.
Nearing his late 50s, Roscoe was unable to serve in the Vietnam War and now wants to honor all those who served not only in Vietnam, but all wars.
“It’s my way of saying thank you to all veterans, especially Vietnam veterans,” Roscoe said. “I have a soft spot for the Vietnam vets because they didn’t get treated like the guys coming home now do.”
Hailing from El Paso, Texas, Roscoe left home, traveled to Oklahoma, Indianapolis and eventually reached Jacksonville, Fla., before turning around and heading back west until he ended up in Roswell Wednesday.
He collects business cards from all the reporters he talks to. He camps out most nights, pulling from the roughly 150 pounds of gear he hauls in a little buggy behind his bicycle. And above all, he reminds people that he is riding for the veterans.
Founded in Virginia in 2003 by a group of veterans and friends, the Wounded Warrior Project’s mission is to “honor and empower” those wounded, physically or mentally, while serving in the military.
When people find out what Roscoe is riding for, the best of humanity usually shows itself. He has experienced little kindnesses along the way, from donated gear to paid bills at restaurants and even an occasional hotel room.
“A guy in Florida paid for a hotel room for me … $100 for a hotel room! I said ‘No!’ but he did,” Roscoe said. “And I ended up sleeping on the floor. Because I couldn’t sleep in a bed.” He had spent so much time sleeping on the ground that a bed felt foreign.
He started his journey in April 2012, but had a breakdown in Oklahoma. So he spent four months there, doing odd jobs and volunteering while he waited for the needed part. But through mishaps, he continues to ride.
People ask him why he rides a bicycle. “Why don’t you get a motorcycle?” he is asked.
“Well, I could do that, but just think: I haven’t had to stop for gas yet,” he replies to such questions. “And I would get fat and lazy.”
Riding from Portales to Roswell alone he lost 4,100 calories. So pasta is a constant in his diet plan, as well as fresh fruit.
“I’d put a monkey to shame eating bananas,” he laughed.
Showers are few and far in between. He rides through intense heat and storms. “I’ve gained a lot of pain,” he said, referring to his aching back. And he breezes through shoes like none other. But overall, it’s been an experience, he said.
And pointing to his Wounded Warriors hat, he said, “It’s not about me, it’s about them.”