DAY FOURTEEN: First Gig and Biking Resource Website

1. I got my first pretour prep gig! It will be at Littleton Baptist Church.I performed there a few months ago and it went very well. I’m excited to be getting back there. It’s up in The County. By the way, I am not planning on biking to these gigs in Maine.

2. I heard encouraging possibilities from a pastor I contacted in the Waterville area. He’s going to look into it, and said he may give me the contact information for the pastors in his pastors fellowship. More than I was looking for! Woo hoo!

3. I found a good website (bikeacrossamerica.com) which has a lot of information about biking such long distances. I went on there to see if my plan of traveling 40 miles per day for 5 days per week for too much. He said that many people that bike those distances go anywhere from 80-120 miles per day! Either I’m not crazy or I’m just less crazy than I thought!

Thanks for reading this blog.

DAY THIRTEEN: Bangor Metro, Camp Fair Haven and Clarification

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Yesterday I wrote my monthly humor column for the October issue of Bangor Metro. The topic was the Spokes and Jokes Tour. One line read, “But what does a 39 year old man in Spandex have to do with comedy? Well, a lot, really, but that’s not where I’m going with this.”

The column was the first effort I’ve made toward more public exposure, but it won’t run until I’ve hit some of the other media, most likely.

Also, I’m presently working on setting up a comedy show at Camp Fair Haven for some time in October of this year. I haven’t set the date yet, since I want to make sure it doesn’t conflict with anything else significant going on in the area.

The gig will likely be at the camp’s West Lodge, a nice, large-enough room with a great stone fireplace in the back to knock off some of that Maine autumn chill. I’m hoping to get a bunch of people out to that show. I’ll be doing bigger and smaller shows, and I’m really hoping this will be one of the bigger ones.

Lastly, it was nice to get to talk a little bit more yesterday with one of my more skeptical friends. He thought my plan was to just head out on the bike next year and try to get gigs on the road with no advanced planning.

Not so much.

I will be scheduling which day I should be in which area before we even leave and contact the appropriate churches months in advance to propose the shows to them. In fact, I will be design my own promotional materials to send to them so they can promote the show in their own areas.

I skipped a bike ride yesterday because I’ve just been too busy trying to meet the deadline for the September issue of Funnies Extra. Not so bad of a deal, either, to exchange a bike seat for a comfortable office chair.

DAY TWELVE: Long Rides, Jerk Dogs and Good Friends

ImageI’ve been trying to ride more to see how my body holds up. It’s been good. I got in 160 miles last week in 5 days. My last three rides (Friday of last week and Monday and Tuesday of this week) were 47, 41 and 39 miles respectively.

The legs are a bit lame, but I’m glad. I know some good stuff is happening.

I think my biggest concern is not physical injury from the mechanics of biking, but more from attacks by evil dogs. I hate encountering dogs on my trip. You never know what they’re going to do.

I’ve been chased by a few, and I usually can bike faster than they can run. If they get close, I yell out in my Scary Chris Quimby voice, and they usually submit and stop.

Yesterday, I had two dogs chase me and they were never able to get to me. Still ticks me off, though. PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE THEIR DOGS HOOKED IF THEY’RE OUTSIDE! If you love them, you’ll take better care of them.

One of these days, a car is going to come up over a hill and cream your pet.

Also, yesterday was the first day I didn’t write a blog. I didn’t have much to say about this trip and it was a good exercise to not try and push something out. I tend to be a little obsessive and it’s a worthy challenge for me to just relax and remind myself that it’s OK if I don’t blog every day.

I did, though, have the second of my closest friends speak critically of my plans. In fact, he stated that he thought I was completely out of my mind. The other friend just thought I was crazy.

I naturally care too much what people think of me. I need to get over that, and I have seen great developments in that regard lately. When I hear those criticisms, it hurts just a little, but it mostly just pumps me up. I feel like I have an opportunity to do something difficult with a lot of people watching and inspire those who might be not thinking big enough.

Plus, they might be right. I appreciate that I have friends who don’t just tell me what I want to hear. Such a friend is of low quality. As the Biblical proverb states, “faithful are the wounds of a friend”. I need these friends to pray for me and sometime to sit down with me and articulate any concerns before we get too deeply into the planning of this trip.

Criticism, if delivered in love, can be a great gift. It might hurt a little at first, but it’s a lot better than getting bitten by a dog.

DAY TEN: Encouragement, Ideas and Modifications

Today in church, my aunt filled me with so much encouragement I thought I was going to start floating off the ground. She was so excited for this venture, saying that she has so many things that she wished that she had done in her life when she was younger, but she didn’t for one reason or another.

She thought this was one of those things that I should do while I have the chance.

Upon listening to her, it was as if she felt like, in supporting our family in this Spokes & Jokes Tour, that she was taking a small part in it, too. In fact, she offered to distribute some of our Funnies Extras while we were gone. That is the kind of thing I am expecting to happen, and it was encouraging to see the beginnings of it.

An undertaking of this magnitude can’t get off the ground without the help of many. I have a theory that people want to be a part of something big. I am hoping that, as we build this plan, people will assemble around it and allow it to happen. I need people who are eager to help in any way they can, and Heather and I have to be humble enough to accept their help and not try to be heroes.

Also, a friend of mine had the idea that I should use the influence that his pastor might have with other pastors around the nation. His pastor (who used to be my pastor), knows a great deal of others around the country, and I’m sure his endorsement of me and my act would contribute more productively to the goal of booking gigs along the way than a blind request would.

Sunday, the whole family sat down to itemize all expected expenses and responsibilities that will need to be considered before we develop a budget and ask people to help us on the way and back at home. My daughter suggested we don’t leave in May but, instead, wait until around September.

I did not want this, since I already feel like I’m waiting long enough to do this. However, I contacted our friends in Texas, and they won’t even be home when we would expect to be there if we left in May.

I was disappointed for awhile, since this would mean pushing the trip back about another 4 months. However, I was able to think throughout the day of some of the benefits this would bring.

I know have a peace about it and plan to use the time to prepare for this to be an even better tour than before.

DAY NINE: Two Nightmares

ImageLast night I had two nightmares about standup comedy. In neither of them was I wearing only underwear.

In the first, I had a gig for some Native Americans at a meeting hall I’d never been at. It was a private party. I started with one of my song parodies, but I was feeling very lazy so I didn’t remove the blanket that I had over me for some reason and its fibers were muting out the guitar strings. The music sounded weak and horrible. I finished the song and everyone left, even though I was just at the beginning of my set.

After that, the man who hired me gave me an envelope with cash in it. I told him that I could not accept his payment because I did not do my job. He insisted and I thanked him. While walking away, though, I looked into the envelope and there was only $26 dollars, which was WAY less than the gig was supposed to pay.

In the second nightmare, I had a gig in my own church. However, one minute before I got up to perform, I realized I had brought the wrong gig bag and I didn’t have my own guitar. I had a bag that contained a ukulele and two other small, stringed instruments that I didn’t know how to play. I had lost people’s confidence when I didn’t start on time and they all started talking amongst themselves with displeasure and then they left.

What can I take from these dreams? I need to make positively sure that I am prepared.

And I shouldn’t eat four large pieces of pizza with jalapeno peppers 3 hours before bedtime.

DAY EIGHT: I Must Go To Church(es)!

ImageOne of the first phases of this plan is to load myself up with gigs at churches in Maine while I arrange my finances to put my family in a position to go on the Spokes and Jokes Bike Tour.

A big part of this effort will be the publicity I receive from the newspapers, TV and radio.

However, if you know of a church that would consider having me perform there, I can assure them that the audience would have a great time. I’ve performed in Baptist, Pentecostal and Methodist churches and all of the audiences had great times.

I can provide references and further information for those arranging the events regarding fees and logistics if you would be kind enough to forward on this message to the appropriate people.

Thank you for your help!

DAY SEVEN: Thank you to Bob Goff, the bikers from South Africa and Jesus Christ.

Image“So,” you might ask. “Who is Bob Goff?”

Bob Goff is a unique man who had a lot of quirky ideas but didn’t let them die in his mind. I have no doubt that if you find his book, Love Does, you will thank yourself for reading it. It is filled with stories of what he did to enjoy the opportunities that were set before him in life.

Where many people just live like other people live because that’s what they assume they are supposed to do, Bob Goff thinks and acts outside of the box. Oftentimes he cannot even see the box from where he’s standing.

I want to be more like Bob Goff. His inspiration played a part in me pursuing this bike trip and the nurturing of my standup comedy career.

I’d also like to thank the couple I met last year in Brooks who were biking from Washington, DC to Maine, then back to hop a flight back to the small island they manage in the Caribbean. I still remember the quote of the gentleman who had decided to start arranging his life in a way that was more pleasing to him by saying, “at the end of it all, you get out of the rat race, but you’re still a rat”.

Lastly, but NOT least importantly, I thank Jesus Christ not just for saving me from death and bondage to sin, but for his direction to “not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?’ (These are the things the heathen are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. Instead, be concerned above everything else with his Kingdom and with what he requires, and he will provide you with all these other things. So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.”

It seems that a good many of us (including myself) suffer from a fear that we must chain ourselves to a desk to earn enough money to pay for some things we have convinced we cannot live without, but without considering all that we sacrifice to obtain them. I want to have a contentment for merely what I need and I want to stop freaking out when I do not trust God’s provisions for me. I think I am supposed to keep myself in situations where I need to lean on his provision in a very visible way. Man, it’s hard. I don’t like it, but I think I don’t like it simply because I do not trust Him as I should. Sure, I talk about it, but it’s just not there.

And maybe this trip ISN’T something He wants me to do? I need to keep my eyes and mind open and exercise wisdom along the way in its planning, and be conscious to not have it become an idol in my life that eclipses in perceived size the exalted God that might allow me the opportunity.

DAY SIX: Pouts and Doubts

ImageToday was the first day I experienced negative emotions and doubts about this endeavor. I figured it would happen eventually. I mean, come on. No body was made strong enough to house all of the boundless enthusiasm I have experienced over the last few days. There were times when, if I concentrated hard enough, I think I might have been able to float about three inches off the ground.

Today I asked myself some of the following questions:

“What if nobody cares about this NEARLY as much as I do?”

“What if I make all of my media appearances and the trip never happens?”

“What about all of the other people that bike to distant places for more noble reasons? Don’t their efforts trump mine?”

“What if I make all of the arrangements, but no churches book me?

“What if we don’t secure enough long-term Funnies Extra advertisers for the paper to support itself and our home finances by next spring?”

‘What if my creativity and enthusiasm doesn’t, in fact, lead to greater opportunity, but instead puts the financial present and future of my family in great jeopardy?”

Although many of these concerns are real and must be addressed, foundationally I need to make sure this is a great idea, and I still think it is. Heather was asked by a friend last night why this is something that I would do and publicize. What’s the goal? What’s the motivation?

That is a great question. If I had to answer it succinctly, I would say because it sounds VERY fun and exciting.

Over and above that, why would anybody outside of my close friends and family watch a documentary about this?

My answer to that is based on some of the responses I’ve gotten from people as I’ve presented this idea to them over the last few days.

I have seen some people’s faces brighten up. The idea awakens something within them. I love that.

About a year ago, I spoke to a friend that worked with me. The company was offering buyouts to employees and I opted to leave. In discussing with me whether she should, too, I expressed that sometimes in life, people need to move around the furniture.

You know what I mean? You ever go to change the elements of a room in your house around? There are larger items that sometime are where there are simply because that’s what made the most sense for where you where at that point in your lives. Like, maybe the TV stand was against a certain wall so the sun wouldn’t glare off the screen. Maybe now you don’t even have the TV, because you’ve decided in the last 10 years that there are better things to do with your life.

So maybe you don’t even need to TV stand anymore.

I am self employed, have flexibility and need to boost my comedy career. The best and most inexpensive way I can think to do this right now is to generate my own buzz – something that will separate me from the hoards of other comics out there.

If, in the process, I can inspire others to think outside the box, determine what they might do with their limited years on Earth, then make a plan to see if it can happen, that would be very rewarding for me.

God is challenging me to trust Him more. This is VERY hard for me. I know he wants me to exercise wisdom by planning, but trust him along the way.

This is a context in which I wish for that to happen.

DAY FIVE: Aiming for Massive Saturation

Yesterday’s mission was to give the heads up to the local decision makers for the first wave of media coverage. The idea is to get publicity initially to garner fundraising comedy gigs in the state of Maine over the next few months, then to offer an update prior to leaving for Texas next spring.

So far, we have confirmations for coverage from the Bangor Daily News, the Maine Edge and, ahem, Funnies Extra.

I will also be publicizing this event on the Mike and Mike Show (the local Bangor show, not the one on ESPN) on 94.5 FM and on the Ric Tyler and George Hale morning show on 103.9 FM (both stations are in Central Maine).

I want to get the website and other aspects in order before we go too public and will post announcements on when we are being broadcast on which media at the appropriate times.

I should also be contacting Christian radio station, WHCF, and other Christian radio stations in the state of Maine today. Oh, and I want to see if I can get on the Late Show with Danny Cashman to talk about this. Haven’t emailed him yet.

Also, in other exciting news, I would like to congratulate a man from whom I not only received a lot of biological information, but also the name for this trip, Raymond Quimby. As you can see from the website, the name Spokes and Jokes was chosen for its cleverness and brevity.

Thank you to all who submitted your creative contributions. Alas, Ray gets the Snickers Bar (which he actually turned down for a 3 Musketeers).

Also, thank you to my children, Emma and Jordan, who we plan to accompany us on this trip. They have already been a big help in the planning, and assisted me greatly this morning by offering real-time and solicited critiques of the creation of the logo and header image for the website.

DAY FOUR: Charitable Cause and Name Submissions

My usual routine in the morning is to not allow myself to get on the computer until I’ve attended to other, more important, practices. These involve my personal Bible study, prayer time and sometimes a few pushups. And a necessary trip to the bathroom, but that’s too much information.

After those things were done this morning, I sat down to write today’s blog, but had to stop. You see, I was planning on taking another long bike ride this morning, and it seemed premature to write about the development of trip planning before what was likely to become another mentally productive day of exercise.

I’m glad I waited.

Today, while on the road, I forced myself to consider whether I would support a charitable cause on my trip. Now, to be honest, the reason for this trip is not to bring attention to a physical disease or some benevolent organization, but it would still be good if I could use what might be a larger platform to benefit a cause I believe in.

The first one that stuck out to me was Pure Life Ministries, a fantastic Christian organization which guides men into a deeper walk with God in helping them find freedom from bondage to sexual sins. I didn’t, however, want to make this trip all about that, although it is a hugely effective ministry that addresses a major cancer in today’s Christian churches.

Shortly after considering that ministry, I remembered how much I desired to have the financial resources to allow other children to be able to go to the same Christian school my children are fortunate to attend. I’m sure there are many that would enjoy and greatly benefit from the chance, but who do not have the means.

For that reason, I am now considering working towards starting a scholarship fund so others may enjoy the loving attention that my children have been benefiting from at Lighthouse Christian Academy in Brooks, Maine.

I mentioned it to Heather and she really liked the idea.

Regarding the search for a name for this trip, a recent plea on Facebook has reaped great results. Here are a few of my favorites so far:

HAVE FUNNY, WILL TRAVEL – Katy England

SPOKES & JOKES – Ray Quimby (Dad)

SPINNING & GRINNING – Ray Quimby

There were some other honorable mentions, which is funny to say, since I have not mentioned them.

Thank you for offering your submission, Mom. Although I did not choose it, I thank you for giving me life and for always making me hamburgers when you made the family meatloaf.

Meatloaf is gross. I love you.

Today I will begin putting out the story to some local media outlets for some future publicity.