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Ride 2 Recovery Participants Stop for Lunch In Old Orcutt

American Legion Post 534 provides meal for wounded veterans, support personnel riding through town on the way to Solvang's overnight rest stop

Approximately 200 Ride 2 Recovery partiicpants stopped for lunch at the Orcutt American Legion post on Thursday before continuing on to Solvang.
Approximately 200 Ride 2 Recovery partiicpants stopped for lunch at the Orcutt American Legion post on Thursday before continuing on to Solvang. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Former Marine Ulisses Palafox has found bicycle riding to be good medicine.

The San Diego resident was among approximately 200 Ride 2 Recovery cyclists plus support personnel who stopped for lunch Thursday at the Orcutt American Post 534 on West Clark Avenue.

Riders kicked off the United Healthcare California Challenge on Sunday in Palo Alto, and will wrap up the 516-mile route Saturday in Los Angeles. 

Thursday’s journey saw riders depart Pismo Beach, lunch in Old Orcutt and travel to Solvang for the night’s rest stop. 

Friday’s route will take riders from Solvang into Ventura. 

Ride 2 Recovery started in 2008 as a program to provide unique mental and physical rehabilitation and recovery program for wounded veterans, saving lives by providing hope and purpose, the organization’s representatives said.

Palafox served in the Marines from 1996 to 2000, but ended up in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2008 to 2012 while working in a U.S. government civilian job. 

By the time he survived his third improvised explosive device blast, he was left with his back dislocated in three places, a destroyed left knee and other problems or what he calls “the silent injuries.”

Recovery meant surgeries and pain pills. 

San Diego resident and Marine Corps veteran Ulisses Palafox stretches his muscles before climbing back on his bike for the next segment of the Ride 2 Recovery as veterans travel through Santa Barbara County en route to Los Angeles. Click to view larger
San Diego resident and Marine Corps veteran Ulisses Palafox stretches his muscles before climbing back on his bike for the next segment of the Ride 2 Recovery as veterans travel through Santa Barbara County en route to Los Angeles. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“The bike, basically is a wonderful therapy for my knee, for my body, for my back. It’s just wonderful physically,” Palafox said. 

“Mentally, it helps a lot because it first brings you around people that know what you’re going through, which is the most important thing. People understand — been there, done that, seen that.

“The bicycle replaced all that medicine,” he said, adding it most importantly replaced counseling from people who didn’t fully understand his trauma.

He’s found that help among his riders, he said Thursday while stretching his muscles prior to climbing back on his bike to continue his third Ride 2 Recovery event. 

Orcutt American Legion Post Ladies Auxiliary once again served lunch of sandwiches, macaroni salad, potato salad, fruit and desserts to the riders, according to Sue Hale. Auxiliary members prepared the food in anticipation of the riders' arrival.

The organization held a golf tournament in the summer to raise funds to purchase the food.

Hale said hosting the veterans as the Post 534 members have for the past several years is very rewarding.

“They enjoy it and we welcome them,” she added.

As riders headed off in different groups, they expressed appreciation for the Orcutt post’s support.

“Thank you for your hospitality,” one said. “We appreciate it.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Veteran Alan Munch holds out his hand to exchange high fives with departing Ride 2 Recovery participants. Orcutt American Legion Post 534 once again hosted riders for lunch. Click to view larger
Veteran Alan Munch holds out his hand to exchange high fives with departing Ride 2 Recovery participants. Orcutt American Legion Post 534 once again hosted riders for lunch.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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