From The Kenosha News
Many of you know Mark (Tank) from the old days at Window Live Space, I through some of you may like to know what he doing for the Vet’s, Mark left on this ride yesterday, If you’re on FaceBook, just go to his page and you can keep up with how he going
Out-of-shape smoker plans 48-state bike ride to raise awareness of veterans issues
From The Kenosha News
Mark Hansche’s legs will push the pedals, but the drive to bicycle all 48 contiguous states comes from his desire to raise public awareness of American military veterans living in less than honorable conditions.
“The new packet for the paperwork for the VA is five pages long. Even to get benefits, you have to have a permanent address. And a lot of these guys don’t have an address. A lot of these guys are living on the street,” said Hansche, 58, a Kenosha resident and Vietnam-era Marine.
During his two-year enlistment in 1971-73, he served in southeast Asia, on Okinawa and in Quantico, Va. He never saw combat but knows others did.
“It got to me everytime I turned around: Benefits are being cut for this; benefits are being cut for that. The government is not hearing the guys that are hurting,” Hansche said.
Against the odds?
Hansche smokes, is 6 feet tall, 260 pounds, hasn’t ridden a bicycle in 40 years and, by his estimate, has never ridden more than 100 miles all at once.
“I’ve been told it can’t be done. I’ve been told I’m too old. I’m too out of shape. What they forget is I was a Marine. I still am. If I fail, well, I will have tried,” Hansche said. “I know this is going to challenge every ounce of my body, every ounce of my being. But the drive is still there.
“The only thing that can stop me is me. And God. And maybe a bear. The guy at the bike shop said, ‘Whatever you want this bike to do,
got to be the one to make it do it.’
“My kids don’t want me to go. I’ll miss my grandchildren terribly. My wife thinks I’m insane. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who think I’m insane, but I’m not.”
The plan is to start slowly, pedaling baby strokes, if you will, not only to break in the new Trek 1.2 Alpha road bike custom fitted for him at Zion Cyclery, but to break in Hanshce’s body little by little, enabling him to increase duration on the saddle more each week.
If all goes as planned, he’ll complete the trip in eight months.
On the way, he hopes to kick his decades-long cigarette habit. When he leaves Thursday from the bike shop in Zion, he’ll be armed with nicotine patches prescribed by his doctor to help him quit smoking.
He figures the riding will help him shed a lot of excess poundage, too. So long as his knees and the rest of his body hold up, he plans to go the distance.
In late fall, he started a Facebook page dedicated to his upcoming pedal-athon. It’s drawn a lot of attention from supporters and well wishers.
“This is deep within my soul. It’s almost that something is driving me, and I can’t let it go. I started this page back in November just to see what people thought. The more I got into it, the more I had to do it. Or at least try and do it,” Hansche said. “Most of these guys don’t even have a tent or a sleeping bag. They sleep where they can.”
He insists he isn’t on “a crusade or anything like that. I just want America to remember what sarifices anyone who puts on a uniform makes, whether it’s losing an arm or being away from your family for 18 months at a time. My goal is to help one guy who is hurting — at least one guy a day — whether it’s getting him a cup of coffee, a meal or gettin’ him to the VA.”
Hansche worked most of his adult life in retail, was unemployed for two years and most recently did a five-year stint as a security guard.
That doesn’t add up to big bucks for a guy figuring to bankroll the ride on his own. But when word got out on Facebook, others came forward — are still coming forward — offering donations, and inviting him to stay at their homes en route.
He remains conflicted about accepting financial donations and hasn’t yet opened an account to receive such funds, though that may change.
“The whole idea was not to take money but to give back. I didn’t start out with my hand out. But it seems the more word gets around, the more others want to support me,” he said.
According to Hansche, a budding author wants to write a book about his experience, and Hansche plans to photograph vets he meets and document their stories.
“I don’t have the background to put a book together.” Hansche said. “ But if that all works out, I can help some vets that have no place to stay.”