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Project Echelon: Changing Lives through Cycling
One rider shares how cycling is so much more than sport.
By: Josh Boguslofski, a Project Echelon suppoted servicemember & athlete.
I fell in love with cycling in 2016 while I was stationed in Italy. That was the best place to learn how to enjoy cycling, both as a path of fitness and as a culture. It is an excellent aid in overcoming my internal and external injuries from service. I have bad knees, constant pain in my back, a hand that goes numb, and 1 ¾ lungs from Airborne Operations as a Jumpmaster, Airborne Infantryman, and a combat deployment to Afghanistan.
Cycling has allowed me to stay physically fit for service above what is the standard in the Army, while minimizing the impact on these areas. Cycling also enables me to successfully combat the internal demons that rise from the depths of my mind and start to impact my life negatively. Cycling has allowed me to get a handle on my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), anxiety, and insomnia. I can safely say that I am a better husband, father, son, and friend because of cycling’s impact on my life physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I joined Project Echelon in the late summer of 2017 as a supported servicemember/athlete while being stationed in Italy. Project Echelon is the primary catalyst for my growth in riding, and continues to take me to higher and higher levels through their Veteran coaching and mentorship program. Unfortunately, I had to move to Fort Drum, in upstate New York, in November of 2018 and lost about five months of outdoor riding and training. As I arrived in New York, Project Echelon gave me one of the Hammer series smart trainers to continue my cycling while the snow grew. It was with me in the hotel we stayed at while looking for housing, and it was even the first thing I made sure was up and running once we moved in!
The indoor trainer, along with coaching and mentoring from Project Echelon’s Ricky Arnopol, led my first race season (in 2019) to be an incredible success! Four podiums (including two first-place finishes), an FTP above 300, and a whole lot more fitness than I would have gotten without having the ability to train indoors during those winter months!
Winter is a tough season for me mentally as the weather gets colder, days shorter, and people I remember serving with are no longer around to enjoy the Holiday season. I am grateful for the ability to have an outlet such as cycling readily available at any time, in any weather condition, and any season. The Saris direct drive smart trainer has been a valuable ally for my physical and mental/emotional health through cycling.
ABOUT PROJECT ECHELON
Project Echelon educates and empowers veterans through cycling as a form of therapy. Through their work, Project Echelon is telling veterans’ stories and giving them a voice to share their stories and recovery. Their riders are based throughout the Midwest, training on Saris smart trainers, and racing across the country. Follow Project Echelon on Facebook, Instagram and at projectechelon.org.