Ride 2 Recovery cyclists cruise through Destin (PHOTOS)

Tom McLaughlin Northwest Florida Daily News
Bikers race toward the Marler Bridge in Destin as part of the Ride 2 Recovery.

Wounded warriors biked through Destin and South Walton on the way to Panama City Thursday morning as part of the Ride 2 Recovery.   Ride 2 Recovery is a program created to help military members injured in the line of duty rehabilitate their bodies and their minds through biking.   Thursday morning traffic was backed up into Okaloosa Island as the cyclists raced toward the Walton County line. On Wednesday, 180 Ride 2 Recovery cyclists completed a 74-mile trip from Orange Beach, Ala., to Okaloosa Island. Accompanied by an entourage of volunteer escorts and shepherded by local sheriff’s deputies, they were encouraged by well-wishers all along their route and slowed for part of the journey by an overmatched reporter.   “Hurtin’,” was how bicyclist Doug Edwards described the experience after he arrived at Ramada Plaza Beach Resort, the day’s destination.   Wednesday’s ride was one leg of the 395-mile United Health Care Gulf Coast Challenge, the first of seven 350- to 400-mile Ride 2 Recovery challenges this year, according to event spokeswoman Debora Spano.   Riders began their trek in New Orleans and will finish the challenge Friday in Tallahassee.

There were some spills along the way Wednesday, and not everyone could endure the full trip. One careless motorist in Mary Esther nearly bowling-pinned about a dozen cyclists. But for the most part the wind blew the bikers in the right direction and the military communities between Pensacola and Okaloosa Island seemed to revel in taking a minute to honor their injured heroes.

For more information about Ride 2 Recovery visit their website http://ride2recovery.com/gulf-coast-challenge.html.