Saturday, May 14, 2011

May 14

Well, today is a very big day and it represents many things.  If all goes according to plan, it will be the end of the big ride, the fulfilling of our commitment to the donors to actually ride the 500 km, the proof that it can be done and that we Old Guys can do it.

With the aid of Ross' satellite-linked watch, we have taken great care to keep an accurate account of the distance we have cycled.  As of this morning, Bernie still needs 14 km (in addition to today's Freetown ride) to get his 500 km in. Ross has money business to tend to with Oumar this morning, so I ride out with Bernie through the highway construction zone to the land o' puddles and back to make up the difference.

When we return, we pack the bikes onto the pickup truck and head to the start of the procession.  On the way there, the mood is of anticipation and excitement, mixed with the melancholic disbelief that this is really it.  After this ceremonial ride, it's over.  No more slugging it out over mile after mile of dusty red dirt roads, washboard, sand, bedrock and puddles, drinking gallons of water and
dozens of mangoes and protein bars and trying to stave off dehydration and heat prostration.


We arrive at the start of the ride: a beautiful, long stretch of white sand beach that runs for kilometres.  We saddle up and ride, escorted by the CAUSE Canada vehicles, Sierra Leone national television and other media along the beach road and through the streets of Freetown. Don't get me wrong.  This is a modest event - one that attracted little attention on the street, but we take advantage of the protection of our entourage to ride three abreast and ham it up a
little for the cameraman in the truck ahead of us.
The ride ends humbly at the hotel we are to stay at tonight, but the occasion calls for speeches and interviews for the media, thank-yous to all who made the Tour possible and an announcement by CAUSE's Sierra Leone Country Director, Mr. Arthur Cummings:  The Tour de Sierra Leone will become an annual event!


The bikes we have become so attached to over the past 14 days [ha ha] will now be put into duty in various CAUSE purposes around the country.  So, I take a last look at the front tire that I have watched spinning countless revolutions (ok, so I had to do the math - roughly 115,000 revolutions) through this journey.

So, the Tour de Sierra Leone has come to an end.  At the same time, according to Mr. Cummings' announcement, it has just begun.  Yet again, I feel privileged, humbled, and blessed to have been a part of it.  I am overwhelmingly thankful that we were able to stay healthy and safe, sustaining only minor scrapes and bruises and the odd saddle sore.

We owe a huge debt of thanks to our CAUSE support team on the ground: Oumar (co-ordinator and guide), Augusta (food, specializing in groundnut stew and Mango Powah) and Essa (driver and mechanic).


The whole point of our going through all this is to raise funds and awareness for a very worthy cause, so, if you haven't already, please do support what we have accomplished here by donating securely online to the Birthing Huts Program at www.cause.ca/donate (designation: "Old Guys - Le Tour de Sierra Leone").


Thank you for following along on the saga of us three Old Guys in the Tour de Sierra Leone. Stay tuned for more (and bigger) photos and some video footage!


JW

1 comment:

  1. Congrats again, Sir Jon (et al)! You made it! YAAAAAAY!!! Thanks for sharing the story each step of the way. It was a great read, and I applaud all of your courage and stick-to-itiveness! This project has truly been a great source of inspiration. Very excited to hear that it may happen again (perhaps even annually!), and also about the donations being matched 3:1. WOW! Fantastic!!! :D

    Clearly, your "mobilized generosity" has made a big difference in many, many lives (many of those being yet unborn ones!), and even extending into the future generations of this nation. And for that please allow me to say as you have said:
    "thank you, thank you, thank you".

    All the best as the three of you do the 3 Rs: rest, recount and recover. :) Will look forward to seeing the new pics and videos when you are able to post them.

    Best regards,
    Dr. Rita ;)

    ReplyDelete