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Heroes, Hills and Golf

3 Heroes, News and Blog ,

So we’ve made some progress, though there have continued to be some wrong turns along the way. Even if they add miles I guess I have to look at them as unexpected gifts like the beautiful road with a shoulder equal to the lane that I finished on today. Yesterday, we rode 64 miles from Seward Park in Seattle to Yelm, Washington. I still need to look up the name Yelm—but that’s for another day when I’m a little less tired. My high school buddy Jeremy Lewis joined me for the whole ride yesterday. I answered his questions when I could. Some took five minutes or more between breaths, but we achieved far greater depth than one might expect.

Jim Martinson, who might be part of the genesis of this tour because he’s a hero that I have written about a bunch, met us just below the Interurban trail and proceeded to take us through roads and trails on which he has trained for the past thirty-five years or more. The first time I met Jim we pushed for twenty minutes in our monoskis to ski Exterminator at Crystal Mountain. During that twenty minutes he told me that this is what you have to do to win the Boston Marathon, which he did in 1981—though as I learned today the luster of his victory was stolen by Rosie Ruiz, who famously took the T, the train in Boston, and then jumped back into the race. Her only problem, when she jumped back in she did so in front of all the other women and won the race. It’s unfortunate that she is far better known than one of the greatest athletes with whom I’ve ever shared company.

True to his Boston Marathon winning self and more true to the guy who derives so much fun from pushing himself so hard, Jim took us up some of the hills in his back yard of Puyallup and then through what had been berry fields in Sumner, the town of his youth. One of the hills was a 5.8% grade that went on for a mile with just enough of a false flat in the middle to entice me into thinking that I might be done. Even though Jim is really training these days, we’ll get to the reason why in a second, he still does a short loop from his house that includes this hill—a hill referred to in the Seattle to Portland annual ride as the HILL. Jim gets his training in short bursts these days because he’s found a new love, golf.

I joined him this morning for at the American Lake Veterans Hospital Golf Course for nine holes. Volunteers run the course as Jim proudly told me and there were a lot of them. With the enthusiasm that he always shows and the enthusiasm that has been so intoxicating for so many like me who just wanted to follow in some of his footsteps, he fitted me into the Ferrari red, complete with Ferrari logos, Paragolfer, a cart that would stand me up so that I could have far more leverage on my shots. I envisioned driving the ball as far as my buddies as I hit a topspin drive of the first tee that went about a hundred feet and was perfectly visible from the tee box. Jim and his buddies, Richard, who had fought in Korea and turned twenty-one in combat, and Curtis, suspended their usual Nassau because they probably didn’t think that I had enough money in my wallet to play. By the third hole I could hit the ball. True golf standing, sitting or my most recent combination of the two, I finished with enough shots to think that I could really enjoy it if I could just replace those bad shots with the good ones, but who am I kidding, I had a spectacular morning, and left them to their game and jumped back in my bike to ride another almost sixty miles. We’ll ride into Portland tomorrow, but I can’t help but wish that I could have spent more time at American Lake. Our tour is a search for heroes and I had a chance to play with three humble, caring, competitive heroes, and I met a few more, but I think that I could have spent days there just soaking in their stories and learning what a hero really is.

Comments (3)
  1. Nancy waddell    

    Chris, I am so happy you could ride and play golf with Jim Martinson and his buddies. Jim has been my hero ever since he took you under his wing when you first started in the mono ski.

  2. Sheila Nee    

    Dear Chris,
    I told your story just yesterday while traveling from Portland, Maine to Atlanta to meet with individuals who have helped make a difference in their community. Your story and amazing attitude will continue to inspire me as I follow your journey and accomplishments. (My twin sister is hoping to see you speak at Marin Day School in October as she works at nearby Branson School.)
    Sending my best from New England, Chris. as you navigate these West Coast destinations~you are on my select short list of heroes,
    for sure…

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