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  • Wed August 15 2007
  • Posted Aug 15, 2007
By: Susan Hildreth 08/03/2007 How many people can say they are an inspiration to seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong? Well, one Boone resident can. It was day four of the annual RAGBRAI ride across Iowa when Chad Morton, 36, was making his way up a steep hill near Spencer. Morton, who was participating in his eighth RAGBRAI, had gone ahead of his team and was taking on the hill by himself when three bicyclists in yellow shirts went flying past him. "As I was going up the hill this guy in a yellow shirt looked at me and said 'good job,' I had no idea who it was," said Morton. The man who gave the encouraging words to Morton was Armstrong. Later that evening Morton was speaking to his girlfriend Sara Wagner, an employee of Boone County Empowerment, who was watching the news from their home in Boone. Armstrong came on the television and was speaking about an encounter he had with a fellow bicyclist who was riding along on RAGBRAI. The rider, Morton, was born without forearms. "That is RAGBRAI," said Armstrong during the news broadcast. "That inspires me." Wagner was relaying the news broadcast to Morton who at the time didn't believe her. "I thought she was pulling my leg," he said. "But then it donned on me that he must have been the guy in the yellow shirt." It took a few moments for the experience to sink in. "At first I thought it was cool," said Morton. "Once I saw (the broadcast) it gave me goose bumps that I could be an inspiration to someone who is such an inspiration to others...millions of others. It was a pretty cool feeling, even now thinking about it it's pretty neat." While riding, Morton uses a regular bicycle like everyone else, no special adjustments or devices are on his bicycle. "People stop me to ask how I ride all of the time," he said. "In years past I have had people ride up and ask 'how do you break, how do you shift?' I usually stop and show them that I do it just like they do." Morton, who is a full-time employee at CDS in Des Moines, said there is no technical term for his physical condition. He said while his mother was pregnant with him she became sick with a high fever early on in her pregnancy. The doctors have speculated during that time the fever may have slowed growth or development. "I pretty much do whatever I want to do," said Morton. "Yesterday one of my co-workers mentioned she had seen the story (on the news) and said (Armstrong) should see me play softball and bowl and all of the other things I do." He graduated from Sioux Rapids High School and went on to graduate from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in communications. It was at UNI Morton was introduced to RAGBRAI. "My college buddy rode every," he said. "He used to go for bike rides and it floored me that he could ride 25 miles in a couple of hours. I rode my first RAGBRAI with him and his family and I was hooked from that year on." There were 13 members on Morton's team "Ilykanuki" this year. He said he enjoys meeting new people from all over the state, country and world during RAGBRAI. He also enjoys seeing what other people ride. "People ride everything," said Morton. "This year I saw a couple of guys riding unicycles. I heard they rode the whole way on them. You see it all on RAGBRAI." While he hopes to participate and ride again next year he isn't sure if he will or not. "If I don't ride again next year, I will at some point in the future," said Morton. Susan Hildreth can be reached at shildreth@newsrepublican.com

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