With a dip of his front tire into the Atlantic Ocean at the Stone Street beach access, Chris Brown’s cross-country bicycle trip was complete.
“I’m a little tired,” Brown said when asked how he was feeling on Sunday afternoon, minutes after completing the 3,646-mile journey.
The trip was second on his bucket list, according to Brown’s wife, Carol. The recent retiree, who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania last year, said he had wanted to do this ride for a while.
“I needed to do it while I’m still young enough and while I still physically could,” said Chris, who along with Carol attends Wrightsville Beach United Methodist Church. Though the ride was not specifically sponsored by the church, the Browns used it to raise awareness and money for equipment for Snipes Academy of Arts and Design in Wilmington, a mission supported by WBUMC.
The Browns began their journey west in late July, driving their RV from their home in Landfall and across the northern part of the United States before turning south to San Diego, a city that has special meaning to the family.
“It’s where we met and married, and it’s where our kids were born,” Carol Brown said. “So it was like going from one home to another.”
Chris Brown rode his bike out of San Diego on September 1, with Carol driving the RV in support of her husband. Along the way, Chris, who trained locally for six months before embarking on the journey, encountered terrain that was significantly different than that found in southeastern North Carolina.
“It was really pretty in New Mexico,” Chris said when asked about his favorite part of the ride. “We were west of Albuquerque and we got up to seven to eight thousand feet [in elevation], and it was just beautiful.”
Higher elevation further east proved to be a little tougher. Chris said the hardest part of the ride occurred in western Virginia, where he had to make steep mountain climbs in bad weather while feeling a little sick. But with under two weeks and less than 600 miles to go in the ride, Chris kept pushing.
“You just have to keep going,” Chris said of getting through the tough parts of the 66-day trek.
In addition to his wife’s support throughout the whole endeavor, fellow members of Chris’ Thursday morning Bible study group at WBUMC joined him for the ride into Wilmington. When they got to Wrightsville Beach, a group of family and friends, including his grandchildren, who carried homemade signs to cheer on their “Pop Pop,” greeted Brown and his fellow riders at the corner of Lumina Avenue and Stone Street. They all then walked with him to the water to complete the cross-country trip.
“It’s nice for everyone to welcome me back,” Chris said, adding that they also met a lot of nice people in the small towns they rode through along the way. “I appreciate all the support and prayers from everybody throughout this whole journey.”
While the trip gave the Browns an opportunity to see parts of the country they hadn’t previously experienced, the couple is happy to be back after more than three months away.
“We’ll be glad to sleep in our own bed again,” said Carol.
“It feels good to be home,” Chris said.