Christensen rides bike from Columbia to College Station
Robert was in College Station the last time Mizzou played at Kyle Field.
Nov. 15, 2014
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Before the interviews were over, there was a headline written for this story.
Sitting outside Kyle Field, Robert Christensen read aloud a text his wife, Rosemary Christensen, had just received from a friend.
Rosemary had earlier messaged the friend that Robert was going to be the focus of a Maneater story.
“Sore-ass Christensen rides from CoMo to A&M to support the Tigers,” Robert said, laughing.
Whatever soreness there has been from Robert’s 13-day bike ride from Columbia to College Station has been temporarily relieved. The couple decided to use Saturday as a rest day on their road trip to Port Aransas, Texas, and to watch Missouri play Texas A&M at Kyle Field.
Robert, 63, was at Kyle Field the last time Mizzou played at the Aggies’ stadium. He had been roadtripping from Columbia to Port Aransas with his father, as he’d done multiple Novembers before.
At that game, which Mizzou lost 59-29, fans told Robert, “You’ll love our president. You’ll probably see him around here shaking hands.”
Ten minutes later, Robert said, he saw now-MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin greeting fans.
That trip through Texas was the last one Robert made with his father, who died March 2013.
Robert said he decided for “no good reason” that he wanted to bike from Columbia to Port Aransas this November. It took months to convince his wife to go with him.
“About a month ago, when I realized he wasn’t giving up, I gave up and gave in,” Rosemary said.
It’s been a leisurely trip. Robert said when a physical therapist told him to be a bit under-trained, he “really took that to heart and didn’t train at all.”
Robert, an avid biker who said he once rode 200 miles in one day, sets no deadline for when he needs to get on the road. Typically it’s 8:30 a.m., but sometimes it has been 11 a.m. If headwinds make it too difficult to bike, he gets a ride from Rosemary, who drives ahead of Robert to the next pit stop to scout motels.
Family friends have been able to keep up with the couple's travels via a Twitter account Robert made for the trip, @biketotexas.
The sole rule of the trip, Robert said, that he and Rosemary stay in a good motel.
“Good is loosely defined,” Rosemary said, smiling.
The couple first met at a Mizzou football game: Missouri-Iowa State at Faurot Field, Nov. 18, 1972.
Rosemary, who graduated from Columbia College, was working as a type-setter and got free tickets from a coworker. Robert was sitting in her seat.
He had liquor and a blanket. She had ice.
“I wanted to borrow his blanket. He wanted the ice for the boozes,” Rosemary said. “Next thing we know, it was from then on. So there’s something to be said for letting people drink at the games.”
Rosemary said she easily gets anxiety. She worries about Robert while he’s biking.
“Are the (road) shoulders wide enough?” she asks. “Are the dogs gonna get him? Are the weird people coming out?”
When Robert calls to ask her to pick him up, she wonders if her husband is in a cow pasture or how she is going to find him.
Mostly, though, she has enjoyed the trip.
“It has been just another chapter in our marriage,” Rosemary said. “It has been extremely bonding. I think we’ll be closer than ever after this. Will I say yes to him doing it again? … I’d probably do it again. Not for three weeks, but I’d do a shorter one.”
When that trip will come — Robert and Rosemary both said it’d be a while.