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Father, sons bicycle across America supporting Wounded Warrior Project

From left, identical twins John and James and their father David Mackovjak, of Silverdale, make up the Riding4Hope cycling team. All three will depart June 28 for a 3,900-mile coast-to-coast bicycle ride to raise awareness and funding for the Wounded Warrior Project and in support of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. - Courtesy photos
From left, identical twins John and James and their father David Mackovjak, of Silverdale, make up the Riding4Hope cycling team. All three will depart June 28 for a 3,900-mile coast-to-coast bicycle ride to raise awareness and funding for the Wounded Warrior Project and in support of Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
— image credit: Courtesy photos

Cycling is an avid sport for David Mackovjak and his identical 16-year-old twin sons, John and James, of Silverdale.

They’ve ridden in the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic twice and the “Chilly Hilly,” a 33-mile annual ride around Bainbridge Island.

But now they hope to make a difference and raise funds for two important causes by setting their sights on a cross-country bike trek called “Riding for Hope Coast to Coast, 2009 Bike Ride Across America.” They will be setting out from Silverdale and ultimately end up in Virginia Beach, Va.

Mackovjak, 46, is a retired Navy commander and submariner and now a site technical representative for Sandia National Laboratories at the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific at Bangor. Both sons are juniors at Central Kitsap High School with 4.0 grade point averages, involved in sports and both are Eagle Scouts.

Two years ago, father and sons were participating in a 250-mile Boy Scout bike trip on the San Juan Islands when the boys brought up the idea of making a cross-country bike ride. After a year’s worth of research and planning, they came up with a game plan, according to Mackovjak.

“As a retired submarine officer of over 21 years, I can appreciate firsthand the sacrifices made by the men and women of today’s military. Family separations, missed birthdays, births and holidays. With the Gulf War and the War on Terrorism, military families have endured even more hardships. Our cycling team wanted to help these men and women by raising awareness of the Wounded Warrior Project,” Mackovjak said. “Additionally, we wanted to sponsor a local charity, so we chose the Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound-West Sound.”

The Wounded Warrior Project has special meaning to Mackovjak who has friends who returned from duty in Afghanistan and Iraq severely injured. One, in particular, lost his leg.

“This is a great way to bring to light the challenges members of the armed forces, who have been wounded, face after coming back home. It’s about getting them back into regular life,” he said.

The team will travel through 10 states for 38 days on the 3,900-mile journey. Their route will take them through small cities across America, trying to keep the trek as level as possible. At one point though, they will ascend more than 11,500 feet through the Rocky Mountains at Hoosier Pass in Colorado.

While all three are avid cycling enthusiasts, they have sought out guidance from fellow riders who have made cross-country journeys and have spent months reading and researching the various nutrition, health and road safety aspects of such a trip.

In regard to the nutrition angle of the trip, Mackovjak raced bikes and participated in triathlons in college, but he was taken back by the fact nutritional experts said he and his sons will burn, on average, about 6,000 calories each a day.

The Mackovjaks will have a family friend, Skip Junis, driving a support vehicle throughout the journey carrying supplies, including bike parts and tires. All three riders have taken training seriously with morning and weekend rides and are proficient in bicycle maintenance through repair classes, especially because adjusting a derailleur, changing a spoke, or truing a wheel will be necessary skills alongside the often rural roads of America.

The team does plan to stay in hotels at night and will take a total of five days off here and there to take in the sights and also check out a number of selected colleges sons John and James are considering after graduating from high school. Mackovjak admits that with his two sons entering their senior year and then college, now was the time to make the coast-to-coast trip.

“This is kind of our last hurrah and summer together,” he said.

During their journey, they will be stopping off at local Boys & Girls Clubs to talk to young people about staying healthy and physically fit. They also plan to stop at various military installations to raise awareness about the Wounded Warrior Project. The team’s fund-raising goal is $5,000.

Visit Riding4Hope.org to donate or to track the team’s progress during their coast-to-coast journey across America.

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