Every time Chris Seymour entered the garden shed at his home, he would stare at the sleek bike, a bequest from his older brother Robert, who died in May.
After two grueling back surgeries and lengthy recoveries, Seymour, 41, never imagined he would get on a bike again. But that riderless bicycle, leaning against the shed wall with its kickstand down, seemed to dare him, he said.
"As crazy as it sounds it was almost as though the bike was telling me to ride," he said. "Now that is exactly what I am doing. I am riding for Rob."
Seymour will be riding Saturday in the Sea Gull Century in Salisbury, honoring Robert by carrying his ashes on the route to the seashore and back. He has collected pledges and will be raising funds, in memory of his brother, for the Victory Junction Organization, which provides camp experiences for critically ill children.
Childhood for the Seymour brothers was filled with camping, trips to the beach and cycling, which makes the ride Saturday a truly fitting tribute, he said. The Salisbury race also pays homage to his brother's affection for Ocean City, where he lived and worked for several years.
"It is a natural choice," he said. "The ride takes me to Assateague, where we would camp as kids with my grandparents. I did a St. Michaels ride last week. It's all Maryland stuff."
When Robert Seymour died at 54 after a long struggle with alcoholism, he wanted no memorial, no viewing, no family wake. His younger brother honored those wishes but has since made cycling his personal homage to the man, who possessed an abiding passion for the sport.
"We always had bikes as kids, and Rob rode everywhere," he said. "He even competed in BMX events when he was younger. He was the first employee at Light Street Cycles in the city. He built this last bike himself. I don't think I will ride on any other bike but his."
Cycling on Robert's Cannondale Street Bike is helping Seymour cope with his sorrow over the loss of his mother to cancer in March and of his brother two months later.
"I am taking a negative that I am stuck with and showing that a positive attitude can make good things happen," he said.
Seymour, a cybersecurity consultant who lives south of Annapolis in West River, has reconnected his wife, Angela, and his two children to cycling. He is sticking with his brother's bike, but the other Seymours are riding on newly upgraded models. Now family outings involve two wheels. The Seymours spent Labor Day weekend cycling on the C&O Trail to Paw Paw, W.Va. Angela and the children will be cheering him on come Saturday, he said.
"The whole family is coming full-circle," he said.
And he is hoping to inspire others.
"I am overcoming a physical challenge, and maybe encouraging others to get outside, move and enjoy life and what it has to offer," he said.
He has found that cycling is easier than walking on a treadmill, and he likes being outdoors.
"You have to concentrate on safety first, but, on a bike, you can take in things that are around you," he said. "You are getting there but at a slower pace, and you get to do a lot of thinking when you are riding."
He does not enjoy the spotlight, but will continue riding to keep his message in the public's eye, and he hopes to raise funds along the way.
"I am doing something that I know my brother loved, yet could no longer do at the end of his life," he said. "Now I understand why he loved it so much."