Ode to a biker:

It was the late 1990’s when Jim became an avid biker.  He bought his first good bike in 1998, a big ole cannondale.  He was very proud of his new bike and loved heading out early on a Saturday morning to one of his favorite breakfast spots, Oak Forest, 30 West, Sunnyway Diner or the Family Restaurant.  Most times he would have breakfast at 30 West, head down route 11 and by that time it was time for a snack at Greencastle.  I remember in 1999 when I had my first hip replaced, Jim took off on a bike ride across Timmons mountain.  He was so very proud of himself.  He enjoyed a nice lunch at Path Valley restaurant before returning home.  I don’t remember how far the trip was but it was a jaunt.  When he was diagnosed with the brain tumor in 2000, he thought that he would never ride his bike again.  He loved watching Lance Armstrong ride in the Tour de France and was inspired by Lance’s battle with cancer.  It was a year before he even attempted to ride but he got back on that bike and it was a blessing to be able to ride the country roads of Franklin County once again.  It was a miracle in itself that he was alive but to be able to ride the bike again was a true blessing from God.  During his recovery it was therapy for him to be able to ride his bike.  He told me that when he was on his bike he had no worries.  To be able to ride and enjoy God’s creation was a great way to relax.

In December of 2005, the Public Opinion published an article written by John Lum about Jim’s battle with cancer and his love of biking.  He had accomplished a goal of riding 2000 miles that year on his bike.  The title of the article was “He is Free to Ride”.

  After the brain tumor I worried about Jim being out on the roads so that is when we got into more trail riding.  I do remember one ride that he wanted to take me on.  It was out around the Punch bowl area of Mercersburg.  We had breakfast at PJ’s pantry and then off we went.  What a ride that was.  It was over 30 miles long and we were both worn out till we got back to Williamson.  All of our rides always started with breakfast somewhere and usually ended with lunch or at least a snack.  Another of his favorite rides was on the Western MD rail trail at Hancock.  I remember that being one of the last bike rides that we took together in the fall of 2008.

At Jim’s passing it was only fitting that he be remembered for his love of biking.

The morning after Jim died, I remember thinking he was riding his bike across heaven.  At the Celebration of Life in his memory the theme was “He is Free to Ride”.

 My greatest memories of our times together are of bike rides with family and friends who shared in his love of the sport.  The family continues to ride in his memory and participate in the Relay for Life.  Our team name is Houcky’s Goobers and can be easily spotted in bright orange tshirts.

By, Marilyn Houck