Down a Nash County back road, an 85-year-old man goes pedaling his ancient bicycle in silent protest, keeping an asthma inhaler tucked inside a purple backpack.
Glen Boadway will buy no more gasoline. With the average price at $4.36, he has pledged to boycott fossil fuels except for emergencies, and he will carry out his errands in self-propelled defiance.
“I think they’re just playing with us,” he said of the world’s oil barons. “I don’t think gas could really be that high. I think they’re just taking money.”
Seated on his 40-year-old Team Murray bike, Boadway makes for a weathered but sturdy opponent of price-gouging.
He suffers from asthma, and he carries a pacemaker in his chest, but he works with the determination of a man pushed beyond acceptable limits, for whom every breath is fired by guts and stubborn principle.
Quite the MacGyver
In his driveway, he affixed an old-fashioned Schwinn seat to the Murray’s blue frame so his feet can reach the ground. And he mapped out the safest one-mile route to the Dollar General in Middlesex, where he buys whatever groceries will fit in his pack.
His wife, Leilani, suffers from multiple sclerosis, so he keeps just enough gas to get to the doctor in Smithfield and back.
But all else is accomplished through leg muscles. He surveys his supplies:
“I got my medicine in there … got my phone in there … got my water in there … got my gloves in there …”
His nephew Benton Heisler points out that Boadway has a history of brazen acts, once wearing a sandwich board in support of keeping the Ten Commandments in a North Carolina courthouse, standing in place for five hours.
He is also, Heisler notes, quite the MacGyver — hammering together scrap inventions from his shed.
“Want to see what I make?” Boadway asks, leading the way.
Inside, he shows off the dustpans made from old frying pans sawed in half.
“Don’t throw those away,” he advises.
‘God takes care of me’
Next, he demonstrates the homemade augur crafted from a cordless drill and a rusty, corkscrew shaped blade.
“I found that in the trash,” he explains.
But being durable as the spare parts he keeps lying about, he has no fear of octogenarian exercise:
“God takes care of me.”
So take care on the road from Zebulon to Middlesex, where the roads have no shoulders and the curves are often blind.
Boadway is out there setting a two-wheeled example.
This story was originally published May 26, 2022 11:14 AM.