Rob Jones hopes to reach Camp Pendleton in San Diego County by mid-April
SACRAMENTO - A Marine veteran and double amputee is defying the odds by biking across the country with special prosthetic legs.
Rob Jones, 28, lost his legs about four years ago when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. He hopes his ride will raise awareness and money for some of the veteran's charities that helped him during his recovery: Coalition to Salute American Heroes, the Semper Fi Fund and Ride to Recovery.
So far, he's raised more than $90,000.
"It's extremely rare for a double amputee to ride a normal bicycle," said Jones, who stopped Saturday night in Sacramento to rest. His epic journey began in October in Maine, and he has since biked more than 4,000 miles. During his trip he has climbed three intense elevations.
"My hardest mountain pass was Hardscrabble Pass in Colorado. It's very steep and extremely long," Jones said.
He also has endured wind and freezing weather as he rode about 30 miles daily towards the Golden State.
"I had really bad headwind the whole time," Jones said. "By the time we get to Missouri, that was when the polar vortex was there. We're talking about below 10 sometimes."
But physical challenges are nothing new for Jones, who was injured while serving as a combat engineer in July 2010 in Afghanistan. He took up rowing after his rehabilitation and became a Paralympian, competing in London and Korea. Jones won a bronze medal at the 2012 Paralympics.
Then he took on a new challenge. After a lot of practice, he began cycling using special prosthetic biking legs built with mountain bike shocks, elastic bands and metal hinges.
Jones said he's grateful for the support he's received during his journey. Local businesses like the DoubleTree Hotel in Sacramento have offered him shelter during his ride, and he receives friendly waves from people along his route.
"People standing on the side of the road - all that means a lot," Jones said. "Sometimes I get total strangers I've never met before riding with me."
It all helps him go a little further and gives him inspiration to share his message
"My message is, find out what you are capable of, find the goal for the self and commit to it."
Jones hopes to reach Camp Pendleton in San Diego County by mid-April.
For more information on his mission, his journey and how to make a donation, check out www.robjonesjourney.com.