WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 30, 2010, 10:01 AM

Biking across North Dakota to honor a friend

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A Bismarck veteran, who served multiple deployments in Iraq, is quietly telling a somber story. He's using his bike to do the talking. The story is not about him, but what a close friend and thousands of other soldiers go through after war.

Dan Olson is on the final leg to a long journey. He teamed up with the American Legion and is biking across North Dakota with 3 goals. Honor a friend, bring awareness to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and raise funds to help those who suffer from it.

"Took courage to go over and fight a war and it takes courage to pick up the phone and tell people you have a problem, but there is all kinds of help available and that's what we want to do is raise that awareness."

Dan served 2 deployments with his friend Joe Biel; the 2nd put the two in extremely stressful situations.

"It was a lot different mission. We drove around and found roadside bombs so you can just about imagine how fun that was."

"This isn't just one traumatic event these people went through. It's day after day after day for a year or better."

Shortly after returning from the mission, Biel committed suicide. It was around the same time when Dan found riding a bike helpful. He says on his bike he can clear his mind and take a break from life.

"It relieves a lot of stress and it's a good thing to do."

Dan is an experienced bike rider. He remembers some hard patches going across North Dakota, traveling up hills with winds in his face going no more than 4 or 5 miles per hour. Today is a different story though. A nice back wind is letting him coast right in to Fargo.

"Easy, pretty much just stand up and sail in."

The ride won't stop soldiers from battling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or bring back a lost friend, but after traveling more than 350 miles, Dan's hoping a bigger light shines on the issue. Olson started his trek last Sunday in Beach, North Dakota. He'll take part in Memorial Day activities at Riverside Cemetery in Fargo tomorrow morning.