After the death of his son, Will, in the 2001 airplane crash that took the lives of nine additional members of the Oklahoma State basketball team and support staff, survival became a common word in Bill Hancock’s vocabulary. Bicycling was simply the method by which he chose to distract himself from his grief. But for Hancock, the 2,747-mile journey from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast became more than just a distraction. It became a pilgrimage, even if Hancock didn’t realize it upon dipping his rear tire in the Pacific Ocean near Huntington Beach, California in the wee hours of a July morning. On his two-wheel trip, Hancock battled searing heat and humidity, curious dogs, unforgiving motorists, and the occasional speed bump—usually a dead armadillo. Hancock’s thoughts returned to common themes: memories of his son Will, the prospect of life without Will for him and his wife, and the blue moth of grief and depression. That pesky moth fluttered around Hancock as if he was a beaming lamp pole in an empty parking lot. Some suggested Hancock cope with medication; others suggested he get back to his job as director of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament as soon as possible. But Hancock found himself a glutton for his own punishment, unable to shake that blue moth from shadowing him on each step of his everyday routine. So, Hancock chose to battle the beast one-on-one, taking the moth on the ride of its life across America in the hopes of shaking free of its constraints. Possibly, he could lose it around a corner in one of the small towns he would traverse through: Hope, Arizona; Chickasha, Oklahoma; Onward, Mississippi; Pleasant Hill, Georgia. On a muggy August morn, Hancock dipped his front wheel into the Atlantic Ocean along the Georgia coastline of Tybee Island. The bothersome blue moth was still loitering nearby. But, by completion of the trek, the pest had taken on a new role for Hancock. The blue moth wouldn’t be drowned in either ocean, or in the buckets of perspiration that Hancock shed along the highways of this country. It was with Hancock for the longer haul, and for once Hancock was okay with that.
Paperback • 300 pages • ISBN: 978-1-936946-57-0 • $17.95