Friday, October 28, 2011

The Legend of Chu Cho


Normally when you hear "The Legend of . . ." it means that it is a fable, or nearly so, but in this story, it could also be called "The Mysterious Case of . . ." or "What?  Seriously?", but in anyway, here is a story from Scott McSpadden, a general contractor and minor cycling celebrity in Spokane:

The “Cross Country Classic” in Belize, Central America is held once a year on what the Belizeans call Holy Saturday.  There are three things you can count on for the race:  
1) It will occur on the day before Easter; 
2) It will be approximately 144 miles depending on how the road was altered during the past year; and 
3) A journey worthy of legend will have been made by a tiny, frail looking man from a place near Chetumal, Mexico.

This man's name is Bonam Pek Chak Peck, but is known by most as Chu Cho.  His transportation to the race is a bicycle that rivals his own body weight.  For nourishment on his annual quest he carries a small pack containing coca cola and cans of refried beans.  He will yell up to be let in well after dark and, in fact, just hours before the 5AM start.  He will come in and quickly go to sleep.  

For this race, Chu Cho will be seen four times: on arrival in the middle of the night before the race; at the start line of the race; somewhere along the race course but only because the course is out and back; and then lastly, he will be seen late in the evening after the finish of the race, but only because he needs to retrieve his back pack before making his return trip home on the same bike that brought him.  

He explained once, that in order to finish the race, which had not only already been completed by the winner about ten hours earlier, he had to get past the stadium gates which were locked after everyone had gone home.  He said though, "not to worry," he was skinny enough to squeeze past the bars, pull his bike through, and ride across the line in style, the way every finisher should.

And then, as legends require, he would be gone as quickly as he came, not to be seen until the following year in time for the race on Holy Saturday.  I always wondered where he would return to, what he did, how he lived, and why he came, but then I suppose that is the stuff that legends are made of.

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