Arrington McCardy 1947-2011

Arrington McCardy 1947-2011

From "The Eleuther­an," 2010

You don’t real­ly know a road until you’ve bicy­cled it. On a bike, every­thing is mag­ni­fied: the sur­face, con­tour and cam­ber; the hills and val­leys; the ruts and pot­holes; even the shoul­der. Rid­ers pay atten­tion to the shoul­der, because it’s always pos­si­ble that we might quick­ly have to occu­py it.

Arring­ton McCardy, founder of the Eleuthera Long Rid­ers, who died of a total­ly unex­pect­ed heart attack on the April 9th “Ride for Hope,” joked that they should rename the Queen’s High­way for him because he knew every inch of it bet­ter than any­one else. He loved rid­ing so much that some nights dur­ing the full moon, he would bunk at a friend’s place in Ban­ner­man Town and leave at 3am, ped­al­ing along in the moon­light, head­ed for Span­ish Wells, 100 miles away. Once he asked me to join him, but I weaseled out, and promised to have the cof­fee ready when he came by.

Self-trained, he had unortho­dox tech­niques. On a steep hill, the stan­dard tac­tic is to shift up two cogs and stand up, adding your body weight to the down­stroke, using your arms to wig­gle the bike from side to side to help the upstroke. We nev­er saw Arring­ton stand up. Instead he would hun­ker down in the sad­dle and sim­ply pow­er his way over the hill. And he always left us in the dust. I was hop­ing to watch this tech­nique in the White Moun­tains this year, when he and Hazel would vis­it us in New Hamp­shire.

Arring­ton was a cycling evan­ge­list. He con­stant­ly tried to con­vince his friends to take up a bike, grum­bling when they made excus­es. His ambi­tion was to ride every major Bahami­an island—Abaco was in the cards this month, Cat Island next year. Thanks to him, we were able to cycle Long Island (the Bahamas ver­sion). He made all the arrangements—twice. This was just one of his many kind­ness­es, and all the shared laughs, the food and fun, the friend­ship that made our win­ters on Eleuthera so spe­cial.

Eleuthera Long Rid­ers: John Birtzen, Cecil McCardy Jr., Arring­ton McCardy, Richard Lang­worth

He had more than one dimen­sion. A skilled crafts­man, who learned his trade at the for­mer U.S. Navy Base, he built pret­ty rental cot­tages on his water­front prop­er­ty, where vis­i­tors were some­times even invit­ed to din­ner. Four of them were with us at his 64th birth­day par­ty on March 26th. He fished since he was a boy, annoy­ing his father by eat­ing the bait, a habit which gave him a life­time dis­taste for conch. He liked music from island bal­lads to the clas­si­cal gui­tar recitals. He had a devot­ed, lov­ing fam­i­ly, whose laugh­ter was con­ta­gious. The Hon. Alvin Smith, Speak­er of the Bahamas House of Assem­bly, once remarked to me: “Now there’s a man who knows how to raise a fam­i­ly.”

The thought of him gone at such an ear­ly age is impos­si­ble to bear, so let us not think of him as gone—just away for the present. Let us be glad he died pain­less­ly, doing some­thing he loved. Arrington’s last Ride For Hope was also my last, for sev­er­al rea­sons. The main one is that I could nev­er ride anoth­er with­out think­ing of the big hole this one left in all our lives. I’d rather think of him as I often saw him, way out in front, click­ing into high and hun­kered down for the next hill. God speed, my dear friend.

3 thoughts on “Arrington McCardy 1947-2011

  1. Arring­ton was an excel­lent per­son. I enjoyed the Ride for hope a cou­ple years ago when he loaned me his bike. He was a great friend.
    Col­in, from Vic­to­ria BC Cana­da

  2. I agree with my friend Ben, this is tru­ly a beau­ti­ful homage, he was obvi­ous­ly an extra­or­di­nary gen­tle­man & deeply loved…. A life well lived….
    My heart­felt empa­thy goes out to his friends & fam­i­ly.
    Respect­ful­ly,
    Ruth

  3. A beau­ti­ful trib­ute, thank you.

    This year was my 5th with the Ride For Hope event, though I take the easy option, and pho­to­graph the day and its par­tic­i­pants. I hope one day you will return and Ride in McCardy’s mem­o­ry.

    All the best to you.

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