On May 18, we met up with Houston veteran Kip Othold as he wrapped up a 3,100-mile cycling adventure across the U.S. in support of veterans.
Othold started his journey in California at San Diego’s Dog Beach on April 1. And almost seven weeks later, he dipped his wheels in the surf at Anastasia State Park on the east coast of Florida, raising $57,700 in donations along his cross-country ride. Some of us here at Veteran Energy were able to be there to greet him at the finish.
“It feels good to be over after 48 days on the road,” Othold said, pushing his bike through the sand after a celebratory swim in the ocean. “It’s the longest time I’ve been away from home. The pets have missed me. My wife has missed me. And I miss them. But it feels good to have accomplished this. And now I can scratch it off my bucket list.”
Othold, along with about a dozen other cyclist with Trans-America Cycling, pedaled through seven states across the southern half of the U.S.—all raising funds for various veteran support groups. Othold raised money for Houston’s Paws for Heroes, a group that rescues shelter dogs and then trains them as companion animals for Texas veterans living with PTSD.
Veteran Energy partners with this group. So when we heard a few months back about Othold’s plan to raise money for them and also raise awareness about veteran suicide, we knew we wanted to take part. And that led to us to sponsor his trip and match $25,000 of the money he raised.
“We’re hugely thankful to Veteran Energy and the support they’ve given us through the years,” said Jessica Nelson, one of the founders of Paws for Heroes who was also in Florida May 18 to greet Othold. “And we’re so proud of Kip. All that he’s done has meant so much for us and what we’re able to do for veterans. Training these dogs can be expensive, and this money will go a long way toward making things better for our heroes.”
Othold, of course, said he was happy to have contributed in such a big way. But the ride wasn’t easy, and the 67-year-old said he’d think twice about ever attempting it again.
“The problem we had was climbing up the mountains, especially in West Texas. It was just unbelievable,” he said. “Your tongue is just (hanging out of your mouth), and you’re in the lowest gear, and you just don’t think you can make it. Two days of 5,000 feet. Yeah, those were the challenging days.”
Othold also crashed twice, he said. He holds the trip record for the greatest number of flats—10. And he said the temperatures, which sometimes got up to 115 degrees on the asphalt, were, at times, almost unbearable.
But there were plenty of high points, too.
“I met some beautiful people along the way,” he said. “I met some veterans on the road who gave us encouragement and were proud of us that we were doing it for the veterans with PTSD. And we met so many people in hotels and lobbies and so forth that gave us high fives. Locals and church people prayed for us. It was awesome.”
Veteran Energy is proud to have played a part in Othold’s journey, and we feel fortunate to have great partners like Paws for Heroes.
News update: After one week, Kip has reflected on the magnitude of the ride and what it generated for PTSD relief to afflicted veterans. He’s already researching his next challenge. Like a returning explorer, he’s got the taste now for another long-distance journey to rival the one achieved.