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One Man's Moving Memorial

Ron Broyles dedicated his bike ride across the U.S. to two men he never knew who had started such a trip, but were cut down.

October 15, 2003|Dave McKibben | Times Staff Writer

Raymond Moore and Lyle Rosser's last bike ride was a short one, ending on an August night nearly 3,000 miles before it was supposed to at the hands of a suspected drunk driver near Joshua Tree.

Ron Broyles didn't know Moore, 72, of Anaheim, or Rosser, 60, of Reseda, but he knew the path of their unfinished journey, and he was determined to complete it in their memory.

So on Sept. 8, his 50th birthday, Broyles began a cross-country trek from his Inglewood house to Hampton, Va., with Moore's jacket and Rosser's bandana. Thirty-one days and 11 states later, on Oct. 9, Broyles finished the most memorable and eerily uneventful ride of his life.

"This is the first time I've done something in someone's footsteps," he said. "When you put your heart in someone's place, it really means a lot. The fact that it never rained one drop throughout the whole trip is just a miracle. So maybe in some metaphysical and spiritual way, they did complete the trip."

Broyles, a stuntman and avid long-distance cyclist, had already been planning a cross-country bike ride this fall.

But when he learned of the circumstances behind Moore and Rosser's deaths, he decided to dedicate his 2,900-mile expedition to them.

"They were going the exact same route we were going to go. This was Ray's third and last attempt at making this trek, and they'd been planning this for 12 years," Broyles said.

"All of it just ripped my heart out. When you think about all the things that were lost, all those dreams those two guys had, it just seemed so unfair and unjust. I felt compelled to do something."

Broyles said Moore and Rosser's story was even more tragic because the man accused in their deaths had reportedly insisted on driving from a nearby party even though several people had tried to take away his keys.

Robert Boyd, 30, of Highland was arraigned Aug. 5 on two counts of murder, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, two counts of DUI causing injury and leaving the scene of an accident, according to the San Bernardino County district attorney's office. He pleaded not guilty, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 23 in Joshua Tree.

On his first day out, Broyles reached Loma Linda and met with the two victims' families. They gave him the bandana and jacket, which came in handy in Paducah, Ky., where Broyles pedaled through 38-degree temperatures and along icy roads. The jacket, however, wasn't needed in the 111-degree heat of the Mojave Desert.

"There were lots of hills through Arizona," said Broyles, who lost 25 pounds on his trip. "You kept thinking the next hill is going to be the crest, but then you keep going up and up. It makes you nuts."

The thought of getting up each morning to maintain his 100-mile-a-day pace made Broyles anxious. But when he focused on celebrating Moore and Rosser's sense of adventure, he said, the task didn't seem so daunting.

Broyles began the trek with friends, Darren Givens and Bob Dawson, who later dropped out but provided support from their vehicles.

The trip was framed with emotion. On the second day, Broyles stopped by the Yucca Valley site where Moore and Rosser were killed -- marking the spot with a small cross.

He finished the ride alone in Virginia at the home of Rosser's sister-in-law. Hours after Broyles climbed off his bike for the last time, he said, the skies opened up -- the rain, to him, carrying a message.

"A sign, in my eyes, of the sorrow that is also a part of the journey's end," Broyles wrote in his journal.

"An unspoken knowledge on the part of all of us involved in this great trek that there will be no more adventures for Lyle and Ray."

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