LISBON — The forks were bent, so he had to straighten them by hand. He needed new tires and at least one rim, but that’s no trouble. You can get bicycle tires anywhere. By the day of the big ride, the bicycle was in great shape and good to go.

As it turns out, so was he.

Last weekend, Reney Henry, 53, rode 100 miles of long stretches and steep hills as part of the Dempsey Challenge. He didn’t come in as fast as he wanted to, but that’s OK. A couple of years ago, it looked like he might never ride again.

Flash back to 2011. On Sept. 12 of that year, the Lisbon man was riding his bicycle on Route 136 in Durham, training for the Dempsey course. A car came up behind him, striking Henry’s bike and tossing him headfirst into the street.

Henry, who a witness said flipped several times in the air before crashing back to Earth, was badly hurt.

“I don’t remember getting hit,” he said. “I woke up in the hospital where they were ripping my shorts off.”


The driver of the car never stopped and has never been found. Two years later, Henry doesn’t talk much about the unidentified driver. He’s all about the bike, the Dempsey Challenge and the fact that this year, he completed the course. The cycling, walking and running challenge is a fundraiser for The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing in Lewiston.

“This was the first time I’ve gone a hundred miles on a bike,” Henry said. “I’ve been training for it all summer.”

He made it, and his once-mangled bike, a 1987 Shogun, made it, too.

As for Henry’s bike, sentiment is everywhere. There’s the Mongoose seat, which still bears the scribbles of Maine State Police detectives who once had the bicycle in their evidence room. And the sneakers Henry wore for his 100-mile ride: plain-old New Balance treads, nothing fancy, but they happen to be the same sneakers he was wearing when he was hit that fateful day on Route 136.

With so many reminders, you’d think the crash would be always on his mind, especially when he’s riding. But if that’s so, he hides it well. A quiet, introspective soul, you get the sense that he’d much rather be riding than standing around talking about this grim history.

“I don’t think about it very much,” he said. “I try not to, anyway.”


Henry doesn’t say much about the driver who hit him, but his wife does. Two years after the fact, Janet Henry still seethes.

“It’s just sad that no one has ever come forward,” she said. “I’d really love for them to catch that driver.”


A postal carrier came to Henry’s aid as he lay bleeding in the street on Sept. 12, 2011. He was at the edge of the roadway, conscious but unresponsive. He had bleeding in his brain, as it turned out, a concussion and a damaged eye socket. While police and others searched for the driver who had struck him, Henry spent a week in the hospital where his eye socket was reconstructed.

He eventually came around, with both mind and body reasonably sound. The police even let him collect some of the bicycle parts that were torn off the Shogun in the crash. Henry wanted to get it fixed up. It’s kind of a funny story.

His wife is a worrier, he said. “She doesn’t like me going out on my bike, period.”


Oh, but he was getting ready to ride again, visiting Rainbow Bicycle as often as necessary to get his bike back in shipshape.

Janet was getting suspicious.

“I asked him, ‘Why are you going to Rainbow so much?'”

Why, because he was getting his bike fixed, of course. Which only caused Janet to fret a little more, to the point where she called the Auburn business herself to ask about the state of the hobbled bike.

“They told me it’s perfectly safe now,” she said. “They said, ‘It’s OK, Janet; don’t worry.'”

But worrying is her nature, so when Reney went out for this year’s Dempsey Challenge, she was right behind him, hauling a second bicycle in case his old one broke down. Or, you know, in case he wanted to quit before all 100 miles were behind him.


Didn’t happen.

“He did all 100,” Janet said. “He sure did.”


She can laugh about it now. She’s proud of her husband, a man she calls “incredible.” She’s been beside him the whole way, and others have been along for the ride.

Reney Henry works at Bath Iron Works, commuting back and forth with co-workers. He missed nearly a month of work following the crash, but he’s back at it now and his friends are still with him.

“All the guys from BIW have been so supportive,” Janet Henry said. “They wanted to see him ride again, too.”


And the biking community at large, Janet said, is nothing short of amazing. They’ve been encouraging and helping in a variety of ways. Part of the art of biking, after all, is getting up when you fall down.

“It really is a network of people who care for each other,” Janet Henry said.

But still, she seethes. Two years and counting and still no one has been caught for mowing down her husband and driving away.

Witnesses described the car that hit Henry, going about 50 mph, as a dark-gray or silver sedan with tinted windows. The collision ripped off the mirror on the passenger side of the car. State police examined evidence left behind at the scene. The vehicle may have been a 2006 or 2007 Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, Lincoln MKZ or Zephyr.

Police are still looking for the driver. Rewards have been offered. Janet Henry said she was astounded when she learned how many hit-and-run accidents involve bicycles. She’s learned a lot and she’s had some fun along the way, although there will always be that “but” in the back of her head.

And Reney? Still riding, of course. Janet is proud, but the worry continues. It’s an adventure living with a man Patrick Dempsey himself nicknamed “Crash.” It’s too soon to say what Reney Henry will tackle next, but it will surely be something.


“He keeps raising the bar,” his wife said. “But I don’t know how much higher the bar can go.”

Cold case?

The driver of the car that struck and badly injured Reney Henry has never been found. Maine State Police will welcome information, even two years after the fact. The crash occurred on Route 136 in Durham, near Snow Road, at about 5 p.m. Sept. 12, 2011. A reward has been offered for information leading to a conviction. Tipsters can call Maine State Police at 207-657-3030 or 1-800-228-0857.

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