ALTO PASS — Rob Jones may have lost his legs in Afghanistan in 2010, but he has not lost his sense of adventure.

The retired Marine sergeant from Lovettsville, Va., is cycling from Bar Harbor, Maine to southern California in an effort to raise money for veterans.

Jones said his trip started in October and he has been riding about 35 miles a day. He has ridden a total of 2,093 miles Wednesday with his trip from Goreville to Von Jakob Winery & Brewery in Alto Pass. Jones said he has calculated his whole trip will be around 5,400 miles. He plans to finish his journey in April.

“I was in therapy for almost a year and a half after my injury so I figured I would have an adventure when I was done,” Jones said. “I was learning to ride a bike again, so I decided I would combine the two and do a cross county bike ride. I also decided that I wanted to raise money for charity as well,” Jones said.

Jones said the hardest part about riding is keeping his balance.

“It is tougher to balance because I don’t have knees or ankles,” Jones said. “I also can’t use a quad muscle so I have to use all gluteus muscles the whole time, so if there is steep hill, it gets a bit more challenging.”

But other than that, he is doing just fine.

“Except for the extra maintenance for my prosthetics, it is not any more challenging than it would be for anybody else who would ride cross country,” Jones said. “It is more mental than anything else. I still have to get out there and ride everyday.”

Jones said he has had a warm reception every where he has gone so far and he is having a good time during his trip.

“The reception has been mainly positive, there hasn’t been much negatively at all,” Jones said. “I have been invited to dinner, invited to stay in people’s homes, hotels have put me up for the night so things have been going really well. The actual riding part isn’t a whole lot of fun, but just getting to meet all the people I’ve met and the experiences I am having is really cool.”

Jones’ brother, Steve Miller, drives a truck behind the whole way and he calls himself the “traffic control manager.”

“It is definitely something really cool,” Miller said. “I love seeing him getting out and doing what he wants to do and not letting his injury keep him down.” I think this is an all around good thing and I am proud to be apart of it.”

So far, Jones has raised about $60,000 and his goal is to raise $1 million by the end of his trip.

He said he will be donating to three different charities: The Semper Fi Fund, The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes Foundation, and The Right to Recovery Fund.

Jones said the easiest way for people to donate is to go to his website at www.robjonesjourney.com. There are also links to purchase t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts with his logo on it. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to charity.

618-351-5823

Dustin Duncan is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering Marion and Williamson County.

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