Former President George W. Bush led 20 veterans of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through Texas’s Palo Duro Canyon State Park on Thursday, beginning a three-day 100-kilometer trek through the park’s ocher singletrack  and twisting backcountry trails.
The event, known as W100, is part of the Military Service Initiative of the Bush Presidential Center, created to highlight the bravery and sacrifice of American service members as well as spotlight organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project that aid injured soldiers.
This is the event’s second year. In 2011, Bush led 14 veterans through Big Bend Ranch State Park, also in Texas . Bush’s love of mountain biking is well documented and while in office he frequently rode a private network of trails crisscrossing his Crawford, Texas, ranch. The trail network at Palo Duro is lesser known but offers miles of challenging trails and hosts several cross-country and endurance races each year.
Many of the servicemen who joined Bush on the W100 ride were wounded by improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Several had lost arms or legs and now ride with prosthetics. While a few had been mountain bikers before their injuries, others came to the sport later—drawn to cycling’s challenges and physical demands.
One such rider joining Bush in Palo Duro was retired marine Andy Hatcher, who lost a foot after he was struck by an IED blast in Fallujah, Iraq, on Thanksgiving 2004. Five months after his surgery he joined other veterans on a 450-mile ride from Washington, D.C., to New York City. A gifted rider, he recently earned a spot on the U.S. Paralympic national cycling team.
Another Marine, David Lyon, belonged to the explosive ordinance disposal team and lost both legs in 2010 while serving in Afghanistan. An elite mountain biker before his injuries, he now rides a custom hand cycle.
For more on the event, or to read more about the wounded warriors, visit w100k.com .