Peddling across America
63-year-old bicyclist raising money for Wounded Warriors and sharing his faith
For Randy Roscoe, life is one grand adventure. And he figures, why not live with a purpose and see and experience all you can.
“It’s a great big country, so why not experience it,”he says matter-of-factly, and that is exactly what the 63-year-old from El Paso, Texas is doing.
For the last seven years, Roscoe has peddled his way across the United States to raise awareness and funds for The Wounded Warrior Project. Established in 2003, the WWP is a not-for-profit charity and veterans service organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded military veterans who served on or after Sept.11, 2001.
Upon meeting Roscoe and learning of what he is doing, he makes it a point to state that he is not a veteran. He does this to honor the men and women in uniform who have sacrificed for his and our country.
“This is my way of serving,” he said.
He estimates the total amount he’s raised for the WWP is around $151,000. He’ll add to that total when he visits the organization’s headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla., early next month. It will be his second visit to the WWP headquarters.
Kindness of strangers
Roscoe stopped peddling in the little town of Coward a day or two before Hurricane Dorian was forecast to arrive. He thought it might be wise to seek shelter for a few days.
While picking up a few things at the Dollar General, Coward resident Betty Way noticed Roscoe’s traveling companion, a mixed breed terrier by the name of Atticus.
“Atticus always gets the attention, especially from the ladies, “ said Roscoe of his traveling companion, who rides in a wagon pulled by the bicycle.
Way, a member of the Bible Temple, suggested he contact her pastor, the Rev. Mike Blak- eney. He did and has been stay-ing in the church’s fellowship hall for the last few weeks. He’s been working odd jobs for Coward’s Mayor, Diane Thomas, to make a few dollars.
“These folks have been really good to me and I am very thankful,” said Roscoe.
Roscoe’s stop in Coward is a great example of how he survives during his journey – relying on the kindness of strangers.
He said he never asks for money, but people offer it anyway.
“I don’t take any money,” he said. “It’s not about me.”
He also doesn’t take money for Wounded Warriors, knowing it would be dangerous to carry large amounts of money. He only carries enough to get him by.
Roscoe tells one story of riding through Kentucky and being stopped by a limousine carrying Sen. Mitch McConnell. McConnell got out and talked with Roscoe a few minutes before giving him a $100 bill and a business card. He keeps the card as a souvenir.
He has many others stories, most of which affirm his faith in the kind-heartedness of people.
Been There, Done That
There are very few places that Roscoe hasn’t visited during the course of his travels - Death Valley, Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park, the Grand Canyon, the Smoky Mountains, and the Everglades. You name it and he’s likely been there.
Roscoe has peddled through every state west of the Mississippi, with the exception of Hawaii. He says he has ridden through 37 states. Most of the states he has not visited are in New England.
Roscoe said he has ridden through the Rockies several times and that they are a “beast to climb, but the views are worth it.”
He set out on his most recent trek on his birthday, May 13. He began in Anchorage, Alaska and bicycled his way down the West Coast to his home in El Paso. After a day or two of rest, he set out again with his destination being the nation’s capital, Washington D.C.
He estimates the total miles he has traveled the last years at 45,000. He averages between 40 and 100 miles a day and 1,000 miles per month, depending on the terrain and the weather.
How it all began
Roscoe first rode across the country in 1986, but it was for personal reasons.
“I did it in ‘86, but it was on a fluke,” he said. “I rode from Detroit to Miami. I did that in 16 total days, 14 traveling days. It was 1,633 miles, to be exact. That was for nothing, for kicks, because I wanted to leave Detroit and go to Miami. Who wouldn’t want to go to Miami from Detroit?”
A carpenter by trade, Roscoe said he got the idea for the riding and raising money for Wounded Warriors after volunteering as a cook at a homeless veterans shelter in El Paso.
“They said, ‘Why don’t you ride a bike across Texas?” he recalls.
“I said, ‘You know what, I think I’d rather go across country than ride across Texas.”
Then 56, the Detroit, Mich. native set out from El Paso to Bartlesville, Okla. He continued on to Indianapolis, Ind., down through the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and stopped in Jacksonville, Fla., at the headquarters of the Wounded Warrior Project.
Roscoe is quick to share that he has another mission on his rides in addition to the Wounded Warrior Project.” He says it is just as important.
“To share the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said proudly.
He visited two churches Sunday morning and shared his testimony and his stories. He tells of seeing the glory of God’s creation in his travels, both in the surrounding and the people.
“Some may say I’m crazy, but stop and think about it for a moment,” Roscoe said. “Instead of living in the same house, doing the same thing every day, I get to see the country and tell people about Christ. Is that crazy? I don’t think so.”
Anyone wishing to donate to the Wounded Warriors Project in Roscoe’s name can do so online at www.woundedwarriorproject.org. You can keep up with his travels and adventures on Facebook at Roscoe’s Tour Across America.