I met Mark towards the beginning of the TransAm at the infamous "Cookie Lady’s House" nestled in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Taylor and I walked through the dusty shrine of a house plastered with photos and ephemera from an estimated 14,000 cyclists who’ve passed through over the years, still sweating from the steepest hill we’d ever climbed. In the back room we met the Warrior Expeditions crew as they were having dinner. Mark, Gil, Amanda, and Robert were a group of sponsored veterans also doing the TransAm. As we leapfrogged across America, they quickly became trail family.
Mark has served over 20 years in the military and finds yoga, conscious breathing, and cycling (on the quieter roads...) to help tremendously with PTSD. But he doesn’t want you to just see him as a veteran.
He’s also one of the kindest, warmest people I’ve ever met. As I was almost always the last one into camp, he reminded me to hike my own hike, to follow my own breath. With a 300+ blood sugar that made me lethargic as hell, I ended up walking my bike up several inclines in the Blue Ridge Parkway. At one point, I remember how Mark kept me company by pedaling in a zig zag as I pushed my 100-pound loaded bike uphill.
Mark’s an expert at downhill yoga, getting lost, and stuffing a record number of Honey Buns in his handlebar bag.