Clicking Into High: Arrington McCardy 1947-2011

Clicking Into High: Arrington McCardy 1947-2011

Arring­ton McCardy, founder of the Eleuthera Long Rid­ers, died of a total­ly unex­pect­ed heart attack on the April 9th, 2011 “Ride for Hope.” This piece is updat­ed from a eulo­gy writ­ten for his funer­al service.

Remembering Arrington

You don’t real­ly know a road until you’ve cycled it. On a bike, every­thing is mag­ni­fied: the sur­face, con­tour and cam­ber; the hills and val­leys; the ruts and pot­holes; even the shoul­der. Arring­ton always said: “Pay atten­tion to the shoulder—there’s always a chance you might be in it.”

He used to joke that they should rename the Eleuthera Queen’s High­way for him because he knew every inch of it bet­ter than any­body. He loved cycling so much that some nights dur­ing the full moon, he would bunk at a friend’s place in Ban­ner­man Town and leave at 3 am, ped­al­ing along in the moon­light, head­ed for Span­ish Wells, 100 miles to the north. Once he asked me to join him, but I weaseled out, and promised to have the cof­fee ready when he came by.

McCardyCycling evangelist

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 observe this tech­nique in the White Moun­tains when he and Hazel vis­it­ed 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 for 2011, Cat Island for 2012.

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 the shared laughs, food, fun and friend­ship that made our win­ters on Eleuthera so special.

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 invit­ed to din­ner at his home.

Clicking into high

Four of his renters were with us at his 64th birth­day par­ty on March 26th, 2011. There was one thing he wouldn’t eat: the sta­ple seafood of The Bahamas. Arring­ton had fished since he was a boy, annoy­ing his dad by eat­ing the bait—a habit which gave him a life­time dis­taste for conch.

Arring­ton liked music from island bal­lads to the clas­si­cal gui­tar recitals. He had a devot­ed, lov­ing fam­i­ly, whose laugh­ter was con­ta­gious. He was a first-class cook, and did all the cook­ing for his bedrid­den first wife, car­ing for her every day until she died. 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 so ear­ly 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 man left in all our lives. I’d rather think of him as I often saw him, way out in front, click­ing into high, hun­kered down for the next hill. God­speed, my gift­ed, true and many-sided friend.

Messages from his friends

This update would have lost the com­ments received at the time, so I reprise them herewith:

Ben Jamieson:
A beautiful tribute, thank you. 2011 was my fifth 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 Arrington McCardy’s memory. All the best to you.
Ruth Cleece Thackray:
I agree with my friend Ben, this is truly a beautiful homage, he was obviously an extraordinary gentleman and deeply loved…. A life well lived…. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his friends & family.
Colin Nusum:
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

One thought on “Clicking Into High: Arrington McCardy 1947-2011

  1. This is a won­der­ful remem­ber­ance of a man well loved by all of the island and his love for the island of Eleuthera. He will always be remem­bered in our hearts.

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