Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wounded veterans to bike 350 miles across Florida in Ride 2 Recovery

For Greg Amira, almost nothing beats the freedom of being on his recumbent bicycle. When he's riding, it seems his cares are a million miles away.

He doesn't feel the constant pain from the back injury he sustained three years ago when his Army infantry convoy was attacked in Iraq. Nor does he feel the anguish from watching others around him die when the World Trade Center towers collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.

When Amira is riding, he is free to feel the wind in his face, happy that life's troubles can be left behind for a little while.

"It's my passion," said the 41-year-old resident of Trinity in Pasco County. "Learning to ride that bike is one of the best things that's ever happened to me."

On Monday, Amira and about 200 war-wounded veterans will leave on their bikes from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa for the third annual Florida Ride 2 Recovery. The event, sponsored by United Healthcare along with several veterans organizations, is a 350-mile, six-day trek winding through Central Florida on its way to Mayport Naval Base in Jacksonville. On Monday, the group will make an overnight stop in Weeki Wachee before heading for Lady Lake on Tuesday.

It will be Amira's first attempt at a bike ride of such length on the specially outfitted machine he has ridden for a little more than two years. Still, he's confident he will make the journey just fine.

"I've been training pretty much every day for the past several months," said Amira. "I've done 15 to 20 miles on the Suncoast Parkway without any problem. I think I just need to get my mind in gear to do the 50 miles a day we'll be doing."

Amira says the recumbent bike, which allows him to ride in leaning position, offers the kind of comfort he could never enjoy with a regular bike. Because of his back ailment, he would never be able to lean forward for any length of time.

"Until I tried it, I was pretty certain I would never be able to ride a bike again," he said. "It's helped my life tremendously."

Indeed, the past 10 years have been filled with trauma and hard times for Amira. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was on the 73rd floor of No. 2 World Trade Center, where he worked as a vice president for Morgan Stanley. After the airplanes hit the towers in New York City that morning, he was helping in the evacuation of victims when he became trapped and buried in the rubble as the skyscrapers fell. He woke up late that day in the hospital and learned he was one of the few survivors pulled from that area of the building.

Four years later, Amira moved to his mother's home in Pasco County. A year later, his Army Reserve unit was called up for duty in Iraq. In 2007, Amira suffered severe head, neck and back injuries while rescuing fellow members of his platoon whose vehicle had plunged into a sewage ditch in an attack. He spent 13 months at the Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, N.C., before earning a medical retirement in July 2008.

Despite the physical limitations from his injuries, Amira says he tries to remain upbeat and positive. A member of several veterans groups, he devotes a lot of his time to the Wounded Warrior Project, which along with the American Legion and the USO has helped to support Ride 2 Recovery.

According to Ride 2 Recovery spokeswoman Deborah Spano, event sponsors have helped raise funds for cycling programs for more than 2,000 wounded veterans all across the country. The Florida event is one of six major rides conducted annually by the organization.

"Anyone who participates will tell you it's quite a challenge," Spano said. "It's an amazing event, in that it's geared toward individuals, but in reality it becomes a team effort. By the time the ride is finished everyone has a great sense of accomplishment — that they've done this for themselves and for each other."

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or lneill@sptimes.com.

.Fast facts

If you go

The public is invited to greet the Ride 2 Recovery riders when they arrive at about 3 p.m. Monday at the Quality Inn Weeki Wachee, 6172 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee. For information about the six-day bike ride, go to ride2recovery.com.

Wounded veterans to bike 350 miles across Florida in Ride 2 Recovery 11/13/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 13, 2010 12:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Jason Aldean fires up a country-dude party at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

    Blogs

    Country music has a dude problem.

    I’m not talking about the proliferation of mindless bro country over the past half-decade, nor am I referring to the fact that most of Nashville’s best music these days comes not from said bros, from female singers and songwriters.

    Jason Aldean performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Aug. 18, 2018.
  2. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  3. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot

    News

    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of WESH.com
  4. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  5. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]