(WJLA) - Two wheels, open air, and a hard pedal. It is a time when Juan Carlos Hernandez – or “J.C.” as his friends call him – is no longer worried about the world.
"And after my week-long ride, I was like, if I can do this I can pretty much do everything I was able to do before," he says.
Before the bike, before this group he now calls his family, there was pure devastation.
The Army Sergeant was in a helicopter in Afghanistan doing nighttime missions when they were hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. J.C.’s leg had to be instantly amputated.
"After I lost my leg, I didn't think it was possible for me to be that active again, I knew nothing about amputees before my injury...I had no idea about prosthetics and what's out there."
He also had no idea who else, just like him, might be out there too. But as it is clear, there are plenty.
On this Memorial Day, the first stop of the ride is the Vice President’s house.
"You know, the 'Ride 2 Recovery' is just that -- it's been a road to recovery for all of you, there's nothing easy about anything that you've gone through, not a damn thing," said VP Joe Biden.
We asked him how all of these images will impact other:
"Everybody sees this and it makes you think, 'God, what am I complaining about?"
As the veterans hit the road on this 350-mile ride, there’s no complaining -- all you see and hear is support.
As we shared the pavement, we heard impassioned stories of how these bicycles changed and actually managed to save lives. There is no more “me.” On these wheels, there is only “we.” And that’s enough to keep the riders going a distance that cannot be measured.
"I feel like I've accomplished much more as an amputee than I did before I was injured, to be honest," says J.C.