Comedian embarks on bicycle trip to Texas

Escorted by his son Jordan, wife Heather and daughter Emma, stand-up comedian and former BDN staffer Chris Quimby left his home in Brooks to pedal to Texas.
Photo courtesy of Chris Quimby
Escorted by his son Jordan, wife Heather and daughter Emma, stand-up comedian and former BDN staffer Chris Quimby left his home in Brooks to pedal to Texas.
Posted May 08, 2013, at 10:26 a.m.

Chris Quimby is a standup comedian, author and graphic designer who is undertaking an eight-week adventure, Spokes and Jokes, with his family, cycling to Texas with their logistic support and performing in venues en route while staying in the homes of hosts across the nation. The family’s blogs of the mission can be viewed at spokesandjokes.com.

It’s one thing to say you believe in something. It’s entirely different to allow that stated belief to have it work in you, for good or for bad.

The evolution of Spokes and Jokes (which rightfully has been referred to as either a mission, adventure, tour or thingie) occurred over the course of about six months, starting as merely a vision that resulted from a consideration of my gifts, opportunities and desires. The process of thought was presented to me in a book read during a class at a Bangor seminary.

Being without a full-time job and in a transitional period in my life, I began considering what elements of my personhood I had seen progress in, fruit from and that met needs in the culture in which I lived, and honored God morally. I decided I would not be limited mentally by trying to conform to cultural expectations, but would instead endeavor to build a direction for my life from the ground-level up that worked best for how was built.

I had a peace with the idea that I do not often enjoy. It seemed right on so many levels. The only complicating factors were that I had little money, little experience with travel, a natural fear of the unknown and of rejection, very few contacts and a largely unrecognizable personality nationally.

I did have a strange belief, however, that this would work. I did not know this, but I was confident enough to begin pursuing it and observing whether it would be blessed with growth.

After months of prayer, hard work, thousands of dollars of support from hundreds of people, gifts and loans of supplies, we are now on the road.

My wife, Heather, and son, Jordan, and daughter, Emma, left Brooks, Maine, on the morning of April 28. Heather and the kids were filled with excitement. I was customarily too consumed with obsessing over details, the most immediate fears being whether I would be attacked by dogs every day, and whether I could trust my body, which is an older model, built exclusively with parts that are nearly 40 years old.

I was not in cycling shape, although I am no stranger to long rides. My plan was to use the first few days of the trek as training for the last seven weeks of it, at the end of which I will have spent roughly five days per week, 60 miles per day for eight straight weeks until I arrive in the Lone Star State.

I got a couple of friends from church to ride with me for the first few miles, which made the time go by so much faster. After that, I was on my own, able to enjoy the quirkiness of traveling through the state, amused just a few miles in when I was stopped in traffic in Augusta as police tried to corral a young, defiant horse that was loose in the main road.

That first night was spent in the home of someone with whom I’d requested lodging over the Internet and, whom I soon after came to learn, worked in the same office as myself, but had never met.

My biggest motivation for this trip is to enjoy the opportunity to share life with various people, not just those who think nor live like I do. I have suffered exhaustion over the years of the invisible walls we erect between ourselves and others. I believe a major reason for this is that we fear what might threaten the ways we think about and process the world.

But of what worth is a belief so shallow that it must be protected from evaluation? The very Bible I read speaks of a God that invites anyone to honestly and sincerely seek Him, not to protect with vigor what amounts to nothing more than bumper sticker theology.

Perhaps a discussion that smacks as “religious” is unpalatable for many, but I see no worth in privatizing and secularizing discussions of religious belief. Everyone believes something at their core which motivates their thoughts and actions, and I have full confidence that people are much more willing to have such discussions than the general public might imagine.

Why else, in a largely politically correct society, would people pay large sums of money to listen to standup comedians opine freely behind a microphone their passionate musing on a variety of subjects, delivering a message in both form and substance that would be thought taboo in a different context?

It is with this conviction that I continue to Texas, accepting the rear-afflicting tribulations of a small bike seat in order to share life, inspiration and hope those I am honored to meet.

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