Today was Bermuda's famous End to End, where thousands of participants walk or cycle from one end of the island to another, covering a total of 40 kilometres from St George's to Dockyard in Somerset. Others travel from the middle to the end, and others swim, row, or ride horses. The event has grown from just 186 participants three decades ago to over 3000 this year. Most people raise money through pledges and countless charities benefit from this incredible community effort.
Ben decided just last weekend to enter the event in an effort to raise some money for Wind Reach, which is an incredible charity where they offer riding for the disabled and other alternative therapies. And our son Oslo also happens to be lucky enough to go to school on the premises and benefits from the incredible facilites there. They are hoping to install new blinds in the enormous windows so Ben pledged pay for one of them and in the last week, hopefully hit up a few friends for donations towards the cause.
He decided he was going to to the event on his bicycle with the kids in tow in our rather aged buggy. So last Saturday, he went for a middle to end practice run and came back saying he was fine and the race would be a breeze. I suggested that perhaps he should actually train with at least the buggy in tow, and perhaps add a little weight, so he tossed in a couple breeze blocks (I thought it would be amusing to dress them like the kids but of course didn't get around to it) that Sunday. This time, he said he was alright still, but after the ride, he was utterly exhausted and slept the rest of the afternoon! On Tuesday evening, he went again with the cement blocks for company and a little further this time, and then rested the remainder of the week.
This morning was race day and it was chaos. They kids had had a sleep over last night and awoke at 5:30am!! We picked them up and were dashing around trying to pack food, find sunblock and pin on numbers. They caught the ferry at 8:30 to St Georges and the race began at 10am. I was to meet them at each rest point to cheer them on and take photos since it had been so rushed this morning that of course I didn't even get a snap. I rang my parents who live in Hamilton Parish and they popped out from their house to cheer them on as they rode by at about 10:30. My dad took these pics and while I am so grateful to have them, I do think I know what I am going to give him for his 80th birthday this summer - a good camera and some lessons in manual light metering!
Only ten minutes after they passed my parents, just 40 minutes into the ride, Ben rang me saying the buggy had a puncture. I have to admit, I was not entirely surprised by this. I had seen one of the tires earlier in the week and said to Ben that it looked a little scary and perhaps it might be a good idea to get it checked out, but Ben is sometimes a little "fly from the seat of his pants" when it comes to things like this and he said it would be fine. Of course it wasn't fine and by the time I arrived, not only was the tire flat, but the tire release had literally broken off and the tire was now a complete write off. I picked up the kids and the buggy in the car and rushed to Winner's Edge in the hopes of getting a new tire.
Oslo and Indigo were so disappointed. There were quite a few tears in the beginning, but I tried to make a lesson out of the whole experience, speaking about how now they would learn from Daddy's mistake of not preparing properly and they would always be good about planning themselves. I also told them that this way, they can ride themselves which they hadn't planned on doing so much so this forced them to do something challenging which they weren't expecting. They were good about trying to see the good in the experience, but the torture of waiting to see if they could fix the buggy in time for us to join the race was pretty tough on all of us.
While one gentleman was working on the buggy, trying to find BMX wheels that might fit, another kindly hooked the kids' up with new bicycle handles, since theirs were utterly disintegrated I was happy to see Oslo's covered since that was the handle that went through his lip in October and I know the injury would never have been so horrific if we had bought these earlier. My friend Sarah keeps begging us to get the kids new bikes since we found these two on a rubbish heap, but I have to admit, I love how the kids are so low maintenance that they adore these bikes and don't want new ones when we ask. In fact, they love them so much they keep saying they want to keep their bikes for their own kids. I dare not mention to them that that is absolutely not going to happen, but it is rather charming that they are so loyal to such hunks of junk.
Ben kept ringing while we were at the shop saying how far he was and I soon realised that he would finish the course before we got the buggy working.
So we left the buggy at the shop and raced out to Somerset Bridge where we met Ben. The kids hopped on their bikes and cycled the rest of the way to the finish line which, given the sorry state of their bikes, was an insanely long way. I wish I could include some video footage of them cycling as it is so hilarious. Indigo's feet go a million miles a minute and the rotation is so small and the kids have no gears so Oslo's is not much better.
The finish line was a buzz with energy and I completely fell apart with the emotion of it all. Not only was I so thrilled to see my babies and my beloved Ben make it all that way, but I was moved to tears by so many others who broke down themselves as they crossed the line. It was an intense experience and I was so amazed by all the walks of life and fitness levels of all the participants.
My favourite thing is how serious they children were about it. It shows such dedication and I loved how they acted like this was the most important thing they had ever done. They couldn't wait to get to the finish so they could get their "metals". I corrected them too many times to count, always emphasising that it was meDal but they still just said meTal which was too darling for words.
Last night, when we arrived home, Indigo made a wee booklet for me to remember the day. It was so cute. She mixes up her "i" and "e" sounds as I think perhaps she can't either hear the difference or simply forgets, but it is one of those things that, although her teacher wants us to work with it at home, I personally think it is so delish. It is like when she used to pronounce certain words incorrectly. I loved it and when she finally started saying "rainbow" instead of "wainbow", I was heart broken. So enjoy her little book!
Me and Mummy, By Indigo
This is me
This is all of us
These are people clapping.
This is the finish line.
This is us with our medals.
Oslo and Indigo - congratulations on your hard work. You were so well behaved in the buggy, despite how squashed you were, and were so good about handling your disappointment when it broke down. I know how devastating that was but you two were great about looking forward to what you could do instead and that is a great quality.
Ben - you are amazing - you did the entire thing and then cycled home afterwards - you were so great with the kids and even though you should have checked the tires before hand, you were so sweet and apologetic and I know that won't happen ever again!
Next year, we all want to do the end to end together as a family. I think Ben will take the kids in the buggy for half of it, and they will cycle for the second half themselves. I will have to get myself back on my bike again having not ridden in far to long. This event was just the inspiration I needed to get back into bicycling, for it was one of my favourite things to do as a child with my parents on the railway trails and I can't wait to start making those sorts of memories with my own children. xxxx