Well, he did it! Chris reached the Atlantic Ocean 48 days after leaving Los Angeles and exactly 3424 miles later. Below is Chris at Revere Beach in Boston, right after he dipped Irma’s wheels in the Atlantic Ocean.
When Chris said he wanted to ride across the US on a bike (thanks go to Dr. Patrick Milroy for inadvertently putting the idea in Chris’s head a few years ago after he and a friend completed the same adventure), I didn’t think he was crazy nor did I think he would bail out before the ride started or somewhere on route. Those of you who know Chris know he loves a challenge. He was always going to get to the starting line. Once he started, it was going take nothing short of a major mishap on the road or a deterioration in his health before he would ever contemplate stopping. Quite remarkably, Chris got stronger as the ride progressed. His confidence seemed to grow with each passing day (and another 85 miles further down the road) and with each big climb he completed without the need, even once, to hop off the bike and push it up the hill. Every day he woke up and thought only of how far he needed to cycle that day, until eventually there were no more miles to cycle!
To put it all in perspective during the nine months that Chris trained for the ride he completed only one century ride (more than 100 miles) which was his only ever century ride! The most he had cycled in any month prior to the ride was 770 miles. During this coast to coast ride, he completed 6 century rides, 9 rides between 90-100 miles, and 6 rides between 80-89 miles. He rode a staggering 2101 miles in the month of June alone. It’s no surprise then that he and his fellow riders came to view a 75 mile day as an walk in the park! Chris stayed in a different budget chain hotel every night (Red Roof Inn being the worst and Holiday Inn Express being the best), consumed far too much coffee to be considered sensible (along with a daily array of caffeinated energy drinks), managed not to lose a single item in any of the 48 hotels, had six flat tires, expended 118,000 calories, did not break anything on his bike, did not get any saddle sores, fall or get injured, and road EFI, or as Julie his Coach likes to say, EVERY FREAKING INCH.
L-R, Terry, Chris, Barry, Mike
All of Chris’s fellow riders had their own reasons for signing up to cycle across the America and their own journey’s to complete. Without fail they supported one another and picked one another up each and every day, and those who completed the ride did so in part because of the support they received from one another. Extra special thanks go to the ‘Three Amigos’ – Barry (aka the Colonel, who had previously completed the coast to coast in 2014, was the first into the hotel each day, and was without doubt the best rider of the entire group), Terry (another strong but quiet rider with a great sense of humour, who rode many days with Chris), and Mike (the last of the ‘three amigos’ and another strong rider who loved his numbers (he was an accountant) and kept the group well-schooled on the history of the various towns they passed through on the route). Chris learned a great deal from all of them, and they in turn looked after our boy and helped get him safely across the country. They are good people (not to mention extremely fit) and now friends for life! Please do send some healing wishes to another rider, Mike S (or Mike 2 as Chris called him), who fell off his bike in Missouri and sustained quite serious injuries. He has a long recovery ahead of him, but also has the fortitude and the ‘never give up’ spirit needed to fully recover.
Chris heard from many people across the world with WM after the International Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia Foundation (IWMF) reached out to their network to make them aware of Chris’s ride. Many, many fellow WM’ers sent him words of encouragement and also donated to the Mayo. Some even made the effort to visit him on one of his stops across the country, including Sharianne Hall, Don and Mary Brown, Pete DeNardis, and Pete Skinner. Huge thanks to each of them for finding the time to drive considerable distances just to cheer on Chris, wish him well, and most importantly share with Chris their personal journey with WM. We look forward to seeing all of them again.
We also want to send huge thanks to some of our UK peeps without whose help Chris’s blog (www.lifewithedge.com) would not have looked so good, including the world class team of Neil Griffiths and Angie Dac from Driven (www.thedrivenagency.com), and Jake Griffiths from The Drawing Room (www.thedrawingroomcreative.com). Finally a massive shout out to the one, the only, the legend that is Ric Parker from Northern Print (www.npml.co.uk), a printer from Lancashire, UK who today prints in-store marketing materials for @ 95% of Subway® markets around the world. As usual Ric helped with some creative printing solutions for Chris’s arrival at Revere Beach!
Lastly, we want to thank the team from Mayo Clinic’s Department of Development, including Jessy Swick, Jennifer Brinker, Tanya Trelstad and Nick Mueller. Collectively the team spent considerable time putting together the micro giving site and providing information on donations as the ride went along. For those unfamiliar with Mayo Clinic, it is has been consistently ranked the #1 hospital in the United States for too many years to count, and our experience with them since Chris’s WM diagnosis has helped us understand why they are ranked at the top.
The link to donate to Mayo Clinic for research into better treatment options and a cure for WM is still live. To date, more than $47,000 has been donated in support of Chris which is pretty extraordinary by any measure. Prior to setting out from LA, Chris set a goal of raising $50,000, and it remains his hope that the goal can be reached. The donation link (http://lifewithedge.com/donate/) will remain active until the end of next week so if you’ve not yet had a chance to make a donation, please consider doing so before the end of next week. We remain extraordinarily grateful for and humbled by the support we’ve received from family, friends and colleagues across the globe.
The LA to Boston cycle ride is done. It is s not an adventure that Chris will ever forget, nor it is an adventure that he will likely ever repeat. I know it is an adventure that will remind Chris as he moves through the rest of his life, however long or short that may be (although we know it will be long), that he can do big things, and that any challenge is best met head on with the same relentless focus and effort that he put into this ride. We all know, as Chris has been good at reminding us these last few months, that we have only one life and it is short. What I know for sure is that there are many more adventures ahead for Chris in his one life. For now though, I think Chris and Irma will take a well-deserved rest.