When returning to Texas for recovery, Talley slumped into a deep depression and began to feel helpless and unneeded. She felt as if her strength and resilience was stripped from her. “When you come back injured you fall into a self-pity party,” said Talley. “You see things differently than you did before and it seems like people don’t care.”
It wasn’t until a fellow soldier Tweeted Talley telling her about Ride 2 Recovery, a cycling rehabilitation program for wounded veterans, that things started to look up for the injured soldier.
At first, riding a bike seemed impossible. “I was falling constantly, couldn’t switch gears or put on the breaks,” says Talley. “I was scared getting on that bike.” But, within one year Talley went from being unable to balance on two wheels to participating in 300-plus mile rides.
While her physical recovery felt slow at first, she was gaining something – a realization that she wasn’t the only person feeling disconnected and frustrated. “When I met other R2R riders I realized there are people who care and I’m not going through this alone – I’m not the only one,” says Talley. “The program changed my life.”
Her first ride was difficult with a lot of spills and scrapes “but someone took me under their wing and rode with me every step of the way. They wouldn’t let me stop no matter what.” After her first race, Talley was hooked. The self-worth and resilience she felt she had lost was back.
“That’s the greatest thing about the people at R2R, even though you doubt yourself they don’t doubt you,” she says. “No one is going to let you quit and you regain your confidence.”
Talley has since competed in several races across the country and continues to ride with R2R.
“This past year with the program changed me – mentally, physically, and emotionally,”
Seeing the positive effects of R2R, Talley is making it her personal mission to “pay it forward.” Currently, she teaches other wounded vets how to ride, whether it’s on a tandem or showing them how to pedal.
On August 2nd, A Road Bike 4U in Irvine will host their second annual Honor Ride to benefit veterans like Talley. There will be two rides leaving at 8:00 a.m. that day. One will be a quarter century (approx. 26 mi), and the other will be a metric century (approx. 100 km). Featuring about 4,000 feet of climbing, the metric century will be a challenging route meant for the more seasoned cyclist. After leaving the business district, riders will pass the former Tustin Marine Corps Air Station blimp hangars, roll through Tustin and soon begin the challenging climb of Skyline Drive followed by a twisty descent through Lemon Heights. At the bottom, there will be a short but steep ascent back up to Skyline Drive and then some rollers as riders pedal through the horse country neighborhoods of Orange.
Next is OC's popular Santiago Canyon Road, which winds its way through the lower slopes of the Santa Ana Mountain range. Some testy climbs will challenge riders as they reach a peak of just over 1,400 ft before a long descent towards the coastline. However, the climbs are not completely over! There will be punchy climb up Aliso Creek Road before dropping down onto El Toro Road and into Laguna Canyon. The riders will then make their way into eclectic and artsy Laguna Beach which will feature some stunning ocean views from neighborhoods high above the water. The route then merges onto Pacific Coast Highway as riders head north into Newport Beach. When cyclists see the famed Newport Coast arch, they'll make the right hand turn up Newport Coast Drive for the last true test of the ride. This is perhaps the most popular local climb in OC as cyclists ascend straight up from the Pacific Ocean for approximately two miles.
After cresting, the reward is a fast descent down San Joaquin Hills Road with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Newport Harbor below. Riders will spin past the famous Fashion Island shopping district and then into Newport's picturesque Back Bay. Emerging from the Back Bay estuary, the route rolls past UC Irvine before making a left onto Campus Drive back towards the Irvine Business Complex and the finish at ARB.
The 26 mile ride is meant for the more recreational rider and those who prefer keeping to bike paths over the road. However, it will not be an "easy" ride. It starts together with the 64 mile route but continues down Main Street after the long ride turns left on Von Karman. Riders will turn onto the paved San Diego Creek Bike Trail for a traffic light free ride across Irvine to Laguna Canyon Road.
The route will then head through the Quail Hill neighborhood before reaching the Shady Canyon bike path. Here, riders will face their toughest challenge, a half-mile climb up the Quail Hill preserve - this is where you'll want those granny gears! But the reward will be beautiful views and a mostly downhill ride through Shady Canyon towards Bommer Canyon and Turtle Ridge. The route then turns left onto Bonita Canyon Road. Once in Newport Beach, riders will start the gentle climb up Bonita Canyon & San Miguel before turning right onto San Joaquin Hills Road past the renowned Fashion Island shopping district. The route then drops down into the beautiful Back Bay and follows the San Diego Creek bike trail past UC Irvine before hitting Main Street for the last mile and a half back to ARB.
You can sign up now for a fun filled day of riding with our veterans and your neighbors in Orange County, followed by many other activities back at A Road Bike 4U. http://www.active.com/