Why are you riding across the county?

This cyclist’s coast to coast pedal adventure recently intersected with Columbus, Ohio, and while biking 3,500 miles is a feat in itself, surviving a serious car accident and being physically fit to complete the ride is what makes Chase one in a million.

On Friday, January 13, 2017, at 2:03 p.m., Chase’s life changed forever. Driving from Bloomington, IL to Iowa City, Iowa, Chase was involved in a near-fatal car accident. He was broadsided by a driver going nearly 90 miles an hour, and as first responders wearily approached the scene, they suspected no possibility of life in the twisted metal coffin.

However, a glimmer of hope illuminated the scene. Chase was alive. They worked quickly to extract his faintly breathing, bleeding body out of the car, which had been hurled a football field away from the point of impact. The severity of the collision dislodged his left femur from under the skin, and he was rapidly bleeding out. The Western Illinois first responders worked to stop the hemorrhaging and stabilize his leg as air-evacs from different hospitals took flight toward the location. He was flown to the closest level-one trauma center. In addition to a shattered femur, Chase withstood a broken left hand, broken left foot, broken ribs, punctured lungs, ruptured spleen, bruised heart, and a traumatic brain injury.

After a month in the hospital, many surgeries, and hours of physical therapy, Chase persevered. His life and limb were not only spared, but his determination made sure his active lifestyle also survived.

Chase started his cross-country cycling trip in June 2018, and when asked about the ‘why’ behind his trip, he answered:

The short answer, I am riding for recovery.

The long answer is more complex. When I first started in June, I thought the idea sounded fun, and especially after my accident, I wanted to accumulate experiences, not things. After the accident, I felt like a burden to everyone around me because I was completely dependent on others. When I left for LA, I was carrying a lot of gear as well as a lot of mental baggage, which I am not sure I even recognized at the time. As the weeks have passed, I shipped some gear home, lightening my load. However, I also let go of the emotional and mental baggage of guilt, frustration, shame, and anger; that baggage was way heavier than the gear strapped to my bike!

With each mile this ride is shaping me in a way I didn’t expect and the stories I am accumulating are weaving one exquisite tapestry. I have met so many unique people, and I have countless stories to share.

One of my favorites is when I rode into Farmington, Missouri on July 4.  After getting the hostel code from the police department, I met a guy on a motorcycle named, Bud. He asked me what I was doing, and our conversation ended with him extending a 4th of July party invitation. Of course, I accepted, and the next thing you know I was at Chuck’s party.

It was complete with live music, tables of food, coolers with a variety of beverages, and dozens of people dressed in holiday attire. I raised a handful of eyebrows because of my cycling outfit, and since the night was young, I rode to the hostel and changed. I spent the rest of the evening with Bud and his family, and we watched the best firework show I had ever seen.

This experience has also afforded me time to think, be introspective, and prioritize. And, the more I have disengaged from the distractions of this world, the more I have engaged with myself, God, and others.

Another epiphany is regarding relationships. People are so important and awesome, real vessels for knowledge, each with his or her own story. You hear and read on the news the intellectual, ideological, physical battles people engage in. We have to stop! We are all trying to get through this life and if we could just swallow our pride and help each other out, the world would be a better place.

I hope this trip inspires others to take full advantage of their lives. I have a second chance at life, and I will live it unbridled, furthering the community of voyagers seeking uncommon experiences and pushing the limits.

– Chase