James Brown is putting the mountains behind him

  • Wednesday, June 20, 2012

By Chris Sokoloski


After 14 days and 806 miles, James Brown is tired of the desert and ready to see some trees.

The Waccamaw High School tennis coach is riding from Huntington Beach, Calif., to Surfside Beach to raise money for the Ashley G Foundation, which is named for Ashley Gaines, a Waccamaw High graduate who died of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2008.

"Things are going well, it's gotten hotter," Brown said on Tuesday while enjoying a day off in Cloudcroft, N.M. "The last three days have been flat out desert."

While passing through New Mexico, Brown didn't encounter a lot of towns and would sometimes ride for 60 or 70 miles without finding any shade.

He's also been battling 20- to 30-mph winds in his face.

He did have a little company last week as his friend Rick Hicks rode with him for about 320 miles.

"It was a big help for me," Brown said.

It was the first time Hicks had ever done another marathon bike riding.

Brown and Hicks had a scary moment early Sunday morning when an SUV went out of control, flipped several times and landed on its roof in front of them.

"I've never seen a wreck in my life," Brown said. "And I've never had a close call since I've been riding my bike."

Brown and Hicks called 911 and helped the seven occupants out of the SUV.

It was at least 5 minutes before another car passed by.

"It was a scary experience," Brown said. "The miraculous part was nobody was really hurt."

On Monday, Brown marked the fourth anniversary of Ashley Gaines' death with a 62-mile ride from Las Cruces, N.M., to Alamagordo, N.M.

"It's a tragedy but through her death an incredible amount of things have happened," Brown said. "I'm very lucky and everybody around here is very lucky to still be alive and enjoying our lives."

After resting on Tuesday, Brown had to tackle his last mountain Wednesday in Alamagordo. He faced a climb of 5,000 feet in about 16 miles.

"It's the most difficult climb of the whole thing," he said.

Once that climb is behind him it's on to the "plains of Texas and then the rolling hills in the South."

He'll ride through West Texas for the next week until he arrives in Dallas for his next day of rest on June 28.

"I'm looking forward to seeing some trees," Brown said "I haven't been around trees for awhile. I miss that."


To follow Brown's progress or make a donation, go to theashleygride.com. You can also read a daily blog by Brown and his wife, Sonja, on the site.

For more information on the foundation, go to ashleygfoundation.com.

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