Friday, May 24, 2024

Local Veteran to Cycle 2,500 Miles in Route 66 Race

When Pompano Beach resident Gavaskar Josephs gets on his bike this October, it will be for anything but an ordinary ride. He’ll pedal 2,500 miles, from Chicago to Santa Monica, Calif., with a purpose.

Josephs, an Army ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan from 1999 to 2004, is no stranger to long (extreme) cycling. Last year in June, he rode in the Trans American Bike Race with cyclists from around the world, powering his way from Astoria, Ore. to Yorktown, Va. That’s 4,400 miles in 29 Days. Josephs was one of 24 racers to make it to the finish line.

The upcoming “Race Route 66,” is self-supported. Josephs’ goal is to raise awareness and funds for Continue Mission, an organization founded by Iraq war veteran Sergeant Josh Hansen, which is dedicated to raising mental health awareness and helping physically and emotionally wounded veterans heal.

It’s always fun to ask amazing people, like Josephs, why and how they do what they do. Josephs agreed to give Fit Life readers a glimpse:

Fit Life: What is driving you to do the race in October?

Josephs: The main thing that is driving me to do the “Race Route 66” race in October is that I love these types of challenges. I love the fact that can push myself in these ultra-endurance events. You get a chance to learn a lot about yourself. I love to take on a challenge most people would never dream of doing. To do these types of races, I believe you have to be more mentally strong that physically strong. [I] enjoy challenging my mental toughness and [dragging] my body along for the ride. (Don’t get me wrong, your body has be able to endure the challenge, as well.)

Fit Life: How do you plan to raise awareness along the way for Continue Mission?

Josephs: I plan to raise awareness along the way for Continue Mission … with daily posts on social media. I currently have over 2,200 followers on Facebook, and I am a part of a few cycling groups totaling over 15,000 followers.

Fit Life: Why did you choose this charity?

Josephs: On average, 22 military personnel (veteran or active) commit suicide a day. Since the Afghanistan war started in 2002, more veterans have lost their lives by their own hands than have died in battle. That number alone is staggering. The founder of the organization tries to empower veterans and their families and referred service members in recreational and educational programs that promote health and wellness and positive life-changing experiences. They are dedicated to raising mental health awareness and taking an active role in suicide prevention.

Fit Life: Could you share some inspiration with my readers? What gets you through the tough times in sports?

Josephs: It is hard to say what gets me through the tough times, because when I am going through it, I don’t look at it as being tough. I thoroughly enjoy cycling. I see it as a challenge, but a challenge I have decided to do. Once you have made up your mind to challenge yourself, it is up to you to overcome those challenges. Prepare yourself mentally, and you can overcome any physical challenge. As it pertains to my long bike rides (18 to 20 hours a day), I pleasantly enjoy the solitude of being one with myself, depending only on my abilities. A lot of my friends can’t fathom being on the bike for that long, out in the middle nowhere by themselves, so they never get the chance to experience the pure joy and elation that I feel when I have completed one of my ‘epic’ rides.

To follow Josephs on his journey, you can find him on Instagram at @Garzarides or on Facebook. For more about Continue Mission, visit their Facebook page or click here.  

Lisette Hilton
Lisette Hilton
Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has had the luxury of reporting on health, fitness and other hot topics for more than 23 years. The longtime Boca Raton resident, University of Florida graduate and fitness buff writes for local, regional and national publications and websites. Find out more on wordscomealive.com.

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