Calling it Quits in Cleveland

Thomas Skinner UCC Cleveland OH

Thomas Skinner UCC Cleveland OH

This is not just a story about me riding my bicycle across the country. This is so much more. This is a story about people helping people from coast to coast. I have had countless people supporting me, encouraging me and thanking me for raising awareness about our military heroes living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as Scrubs and I cross the country on a bicycle.

I managed to make it all the way to Chicago before my knees finally drove me to seek some help at the VA hospital emergency room. I was supplied with two hinged knee braces. That seemed to give me some relief for a while. I managed to make it all the way to Cleveland, Ohio before my body just could not take it anymore. I had made up my mind that Cleveland was going to be my final destination. My knees were just too painful. Me, my bike, all of my gear and my service dog weighed 400 pounds.

Thomas Skinner Photo by Century Cycles

Century Cycles Link

Jay, Renee, Ron, and Thomas

Out of desperation I remembered some people that I had met in San Diego just days before my trip: Ron and Renee from New York City, and their friend Jay. I decided to drop them an email asking if they had any ideas on who could help me with a sag wagon. Just 24 hours later two heroes from NYC, Ron and Renee, had built a custom carbon fiber 8-speed bicycle geared just for the hills of Pennsylvania, using only a picture of me taken months ago to judge the size of the bicycle I would need. Sussex Bike and Sport Shop in Wantage, New Jersey donated supplies for our journey. With their truck packed and the bikes racked, Ron and Renee drove 8 hours to meet me in Ohio. In Ron’s own words, “Nobody quits in Ohio. Not on my watch. You have come too far to quit now.” Ron and Renee, along with so many others, have sent me such wonderful emails during my trip as they follow me via my blog/website.

Well, 230 miles later, here we sit in a wonderful B&B called The Inn on Maple Street in Port Allegany, Pennsylvania 2,720 miles from my home in San Diego. We’re having dinner with the B&B owners Sharen and Jay on the front porch of their 120-year old home. Ron and Renee have taken turns biking with me, and Scrubs is safe and sound riding in an air-conditioned truck as I get to ride through the Allegheny National Forest on a bicycle that weighs less than 20 pounds. My knees feel great and Ron and Renee are the best company I could have ever asked for. This is the sort of selflessness and generosity that I have could have never imagined in a million years, yet here I am in the company of heroes helping me to achieve my goal and to arrive on time with my PTSD service dog Scrubs to our final destination the National Center for PTSD located in Vermont on the 27th of this month.

The Inn on Maple Street, Port Allegany PA


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2 Responses to Calling it Quits in Cleveland

  1. Terry in La Mesa says:

    Hi Tom:

    Well, there – you were not meant to give up! You’ve come so far and your new friends/angels from New York were sent to refuel you with energy and spirit. Don’t quit now, Tom – if the knees are so painful, just rest more often – I think you’d regret it later if you did not complete the trip. Was at UCCLM this a.m. and was gladdened to see the white pin your mother moves along each week – we’re all rooting for you here. Via con Dios, amigo!!!

  2. Sharen & Jay says:

    Greetings to the Trekking Terrible Threesome! We enjoyed every minute of your visit and only wished there had been more time. (But there is a lot to be said for sleeping and taking meal breaks!) Our door is always open and the front porch waiting for your return. Hope to see you again!

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