Poetry in Motion
|Bicycle Category and Division:||Standard Bicycle, men 18-49|
|Start date:||28 June 2000|
|End date:||29 June 2000|
|Elapsed time:||29 hours, 36 minutes|
|Mileage, Average:||454 mi, 16.51 mph|
|Start location:||Cherokee, NC (south)|
|End location:||Rockfish Gao, VA (north)|
|Crew Members:||Mignon Durham, Richard Blomberg, Christina Jenkins, Clarice Turner, Matt Hollifieldn|
By Michael Davis
We were talking on the radio Thursday morning June 29 at about one a.m. We were talking a lot on the radios that were dispersed to each car. A lot of it was concern for Chris. A lot was for the rest of us and the vehicles that were borrowed from the car dealership. A lot of it was to keep ourselves awake and more aware.
Chris’s cousin, Billy, and I were talking. We knew what we were seeing. We were seeing a person who had committed to God, his family (which takes in just about anybody that has been around him very long), a strenuous training program, a strict diet, and a mission. The mission was to raise badly needed funds for “Hospice of Mitchell County”. But what we were seeing was a well-oiled machine. As Matt said, “like a sewing machine”. I compared him to Fausto Coppi. The 1940s Italian “Campionisimo” (champion). It was said that Coppi did not show force on the pedals as much he would seem to “tickle the pedals”. “Poetry in motion”.
This was a 470 mile bicycle race against the clock on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The time to beat was about 31 1/2 hours. It started last year as Chris stayed awake all night and decided that he would challenge the record for the Blue Ridge Parkway end to end. The Hospice, true to form, helped Chris assemble a crew. A team with a dream.
I’m not sure just where misery had tried to set in. It was dark, foggy, and if the rain had tapered off a bit, you could call it a torrential downpour. Chris had met MaLeah’s father near mile-marker 140 which was just south of Roanoke. About 30 people had assembled in a prayer circle. I wanted to join but instead spray-lubed the bicycle parts and did something else but I can’t remember what.
It was a terribly long climb out of Roanoke. Chris had MaLeah and her parents to think about. MaLeah has already had one operation for a fast growing tumor that is returning. She is not expected to hang on much longer. She is under the care of Hospice in the Roanoke area. Chris had said that this ride would be nothing compared to what Maleah’s parents were going through. Chris had told himself that he would not complain no matter what happened. He had already climbed over 330 miles. The rain and fog were relentless. Chris was shaking as he went around the curves. Chris pulled over. Everyone tried to do a task. Massaging. Removing clothes. More food. Wherever we were, at 1:00 a.m., on some mountain in Virginia. Chris said, “I’m cold.” Later he would regret saying that. He said he didn’t mean to complain. Chris, when you were standing there shivering and said “I’m cold” you were just making an accurate assessment of the situation.
Chris was immune to the certain pain and misery that any other human without his spiritual correctness and capacity for love would have. God was not at this point making it easier for Chris. He was making Chris stronger. At one point Chris had been one hour ahead of schedule. At this point he was about 30 minutes down. Chris asked if he still had the record. What else would be thrown at him? God was in charge. How could he be stopped? I said yes. You still have the record. I knew it from the first time Chris asked me if he could do it. He had sacrificed and trained long and hard. He wasn’t doing it for personal glory. There was a need for it to happen. Yes, you still have the record. The entire crew believed that Chris would have the record. No-one would have questioned Chris if he had said “Let’s come back in a week or so and do it in better weather”. No one would have thought less of this great man. No, I never doubted.
A change of clothes, food, light, lube, and prayer and Chris was again slicing through the fog and rain and deer and anything else that would be thrown into the arena.
The hills in the last 100 miles were unexpectedly hard. Most were short enough – 1, 2, 3, 4 milers that work on you. Especially after 350 or 400 miles. Now it was “crunch-time”. He had done everything expected of him and we encouraged him to give us more. “Dig in Chris”, “gotta go Chris”, “don’t leave anything out here Chris”, “there’s a lot of love for you just down the road Chris”, “let’s go home Chris” , “you can smell the barn from here son”. I probably used the term “son” more than “Chris”.
The last words spoken on the radio were spoken by his wife Lisa. “Scott, MaLeah”. There was total silence for the last several miles. Everything was said that needed to be said. Chris never lost his “spin”. Chris soared.
The finish. I have never seen so many people so happy and crying at the same time. I believe that everybody must have hugged everybody. Chris humbly raised his hands to God and acknowledged that God had let us all see something special and magnificent.
Undoubtedly we all had needed this. We all have seen so much hurt and disappointment. We have all seen what has appeared to be the “good guy” overcome by the “dark forces” of this world we live in, so much, that too often we become cynical. Here today we are redeemed. Today, through Chris, God has healed us. I have been healed. My mind and my spirit have been healed. Right now everything seems better. Even my “weed-eating” is better.
Chris never rode over 150 miles prior to this event. He never trained on the aero-bars. He never ate and drank the concoctions mixed up for him in the back rest of his support car. He never went through the “fire” of a long-distance event like this one. But, everything fell into place. This was meant to be.
Toward the end when Chris left his saddle and beautiful cadence and danced up the hills I said, “Sometimes you have to stand up for what’s right” and “sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in”. He stood up for Hospice. He stood up for the sick and the dying.
Just a couple days before the ride Chris met a lady who was impressed with Chris’s courage and vision. She also was an inspiration to Chris. She donated to Hospice. She was having her bike fitted to her at one of the bike shops. She had one leg.
I wish that more people had been there. I love the crew and judges to the point of wanting us all to move in together. Each person added something special. Lisa Boone, Larry Green, Matt Hollifield, Clarice Turner, Christina Jenkins, Billy Summerlin, Raymond Cantrell, Mitchell Warren, Jeff Edwards, Harper Wilson, Dick Blomberg, Mignon Durham, and every person that stood by the road, drove by shouting, and met us at the end – rejoice! Hospice Rocks!
On June 28-29,2000, Chris Boone set the new Blue Ridge Parkway (South to North) record of 29 hours 36 minutes. MaLeah passed away on July 9, 2000, eleven days later.