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Rockwall Herald-Banner (Texas)

July 19, 2013

BIKING AND BELIEVING

Christian comedian completes 2,200-mile bike ride to Rockwall

By JIM HARDIN
Herald-Banner Staff

FATE — Chris Quimby’s two-month, 2,200-mile biking journey from Maine to Rockwall wasn’t finished when he reached the “finish line” on Nash Street.

“It was the end of one chapter,” Quimby said, “and I don’t know what the rest of the book looks like.”

Waiting for Quimby at the finish line on June 21 was Quimby’s Rockwall friend, Brian Rushing. Joining Rushing was his wife, Chanel, their children — Red, 4, and Ruby, 2, — and other relatives and friends.

Quimby rode past the finish line banner as the small crowd cheered. He then turned his bike around and drove through the banner, mostly for a photo opportunity.

There was no extravagant celebration. There were some high fives and hugs, then introductions from the cheerleaders who helped hold the banner on the curb in front of the Rushing residence.

Some of Quimby’s first sentences after stopping his bike were comments about the heat and sticky problems bicyclists encounter when they travel on the hot, chip-sealed Texas streets and highways.

Later, the 40-year-old Quimby had an opportunity to visit with Rushing, talk about the biking chapter in his life and the possibility of what comes next.

Rushing, a singer-songwriter-school teacher, met Quimby last summer while he was serving as a worship leader and chapel speaker at Camp Fairhaven in Brooks, Maine. Soon after they met, Rushing invited Quimby, a Christian comedian, to speak at the camp.

And it was encouragement from Rushing that prompted Quimby to hit the road. Rushing urged Quimby to do more comedy shows.

Two weeks after Rushing returned to Texas, he got a call from Quimby. He told Rushing that he really encouraged him and that he was going on tour.

“Then he said he was going to bike from his house in Maine to my house in Texas,” Rushing said. “And then I thought, I didn’t know he had a motorcycle.”

“And then he told me he was going to bike and then I thought, that is not what I had in mind.”

Rushing said he thought initially, “We’ll see.

“I hoped that could happen, but that was so outrageous that I wasn’t sure. I’m the kind of guy, the more excited I get, the more I just kind of back off a little bit, like we’ll see. We’ll see how it turns out, but I hoped that it could happen and it did.”

On his blog, Quimby wrote about “Spokes and Jokes” and what then was an upcoming journey:

“Spokes and Jokes is an active attempt by Chris Quimby to create an adventure and a future while seeking God’s will. Not content to sit back and settle, comedian Chris Quimby decided to assemble all of his gifts, opportunities and desires to head in a direction, hoping that God would provide and direct once the initial steps were taken.”

Quimby said comedy is something that he had done the last 10 years or so, “passively as a hobby.” In the last year, Quimby said, he considered what he wanted his life to look like.

“I thought I’d rather be time-rich than money-rich,” Quimby said. “It was time for me to put a full court press on because I always felt what little effort I put into the comedy over the years, because of my waxing and waning interest in it, I really hadn’t put a lot of effort into it.”

That’s when Rushing came along and apparently fanned a flame.

“He’s an encourager,” Quimby said of Rushing. “He was telling me that he likes to encourage people and if he’s sees something in them, that’s a spark he’d like to fan.

“When I met him, he told me he was not really serious about comedy,” Rushing recalled. “I encouraged him to take it more seriously in general terms and a few weeks later, he calls me with a very specific, huge, elaborate plan.”

Rushing provided some insight into Quimby’s reasons for going on the biking tour.

“His goal in leaving wasn’t to do great comedy and to be famous. That wasn’t the goal,” Rushing said. “The goal was to get other Christians to question their status quo and to wonder.

“This guy can do this crazy idea and it’s crazy. Is this a joke? It’s outrageous to explain to someone, but his principal goal is to get other Christians to think, like to stir their hearts, to wonder what they really want.”

Quimby said one of the easiest ways to help somebody do something “is to let them see that it’s possible, to see it in somebody else.

“That’s what’s kept me going on the bike a lot,” he said. “I know there are people who bike more hours per day than I do, I draw strength from the knowledge that it is possible.

“And I want to meet people and tell them that this is a dark, hopeless world in and of itself, but there is power beyond this world. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in this world.”

Quimby said he wants to see people dream for great things that God may have for them to do and to not “just settle because you’re afraid.”

Quimby is heading back to Maine, in a van with his family — wife Heather, son Jordan, 15, and daughter Emma, 14.

There are some questions about the next chapter in Quimby’s life, but a recent entry on his blog perhaps gives some insight of his thoughts of the future.

“I see no wisdom in praying for big things while thinking small.”

There was no mention of another bike ride to Texas in his future.