Twenty two brave souls battled a very strong, chilly headwind to cycle the thirty miles from Sandy Point to Bahama Palm Shores on Valentine’s Day, February 14. They did this not to impress their Valentines (though it probably did) but to raise funds for the High Banks Volunteer Fire Service. The riders met at the Fire House in Bahama Palm Shores at 7.30 a.m. from where they were transported with their bicycles to Sandy Point.
They began the ride back to Bahama Palm Shores from Regatta Beach in Sandy Point at approximately 9.00 a.m. This year each of the riders found the journey to be grueling since there was a very strong head wind which they had to fight against the entire way.
This is the third year that the bike-a-thon fundraiser has taken place and in the two previous years the cyclists cycled in the opposite direction from Bahama Palm Shores to Sandy Point with the wind at their backs which made it much easier. Next year the organizers stated that all of this will be taken into consideration and some adjustments will be made.
The first three riders back were Troy Sims, Chris Pinder and Evan Roark who rode together. These three are seasoned bike riders who ride two to three times a week together practicing for triathlons. This was the first time that they had entered the bike-a-thon and they completed the ride in one hour fifty minutes.
Even these experienced riders found the ride to be challenging. “It was much harder than normal and took out of us much more than we had thought it would,” said Troy following the ride. Jude Hart who is also an experienced rider came in next and although he used to cycle a lot he had not done as much for the past year and said that it had even been a tough ride for him and he was feeling it in his muscles.
Jude made the journey all the way from Green Turtle Cay to participate in the event.
In addition to the participant from Green Turtle Cay, cyclists also came from Marsh Harbour to join the permanent residents and second-home owners of Bahama Palm Shores in this fundraiser with even a visitor from Nassau and one from Canada taking part.
The remainder of the riders took an average of three hours to complete the ride. Most of them had wished that they had practiced more before the event since they had not realized it was going to be as tough. Ricardo Miller called the ride “brutal” and was looking forward to soaking his aching muscles in a hot tub. His nine-year-old son Aidan, who already enjoys cycling around Bahama Palm Shores with his father, was not put off by the struggle he saw everyone enduring and says that he wants to participate in the ride next year.
Without exception each of the participants, once they dismounted, limped into the firehouse at Bahama Palm Shores rubbing their sore muscles. They are really to be praised for their endurance and their desire to help this worthy cause.
Each rider was met by a very enthusiastic and noisy welcoming committee shouting words of encouragement and congratulations. The cheers were even louder when Merle Askland rode in. Merle held the distinction of being the oldest rider in the event and when asked about her experience on the ride she described it as “hideous.”
“The headwind made it very difficult and the last mile was the hardest but I was determined to finish,” she stressed. When asked if this was the hardest thing she had ever done she replied, “No, it was the second hardest. The hardest thing I ever did was last year for my 70th birthday my daughter, who is a stunt athlete, insisted that I go with her on a 25 mile hike along the Crow Pass Eagle River in Alaska which entailed climbing to the summit, then traversing a glacier and a frozen river.”
She was presented with a gift certificate from Brass and Leather as the oldest participant. The youngest rider was 14-year-old Lorenz Carter who received a gift certificate from Bellevue. Melanie Reese collected the most sponsors and received a gift certificate from Snappas.
Once all the riders reached the finish line a delicious lunch was served and many people from the community joined the riders to enjoy the lunch which helped raise additional funds for the fire service.
Organizer, Lavonda Smith, was a little concerned the week before the ride since she had only had ten applications but was thrilled that by the day of the ride twenty two people had decided to participate. All riders obtained as many sponsors as they possibly could and all proceeds will go to help fund the daily operating costs of the High Banks Volunteer Fire Service.
Costs of operating this Fire Service are high and funds are constantly needed for upkeep of the fire trucks and fuel. Further donations from anyone wishing to help will be gratefully accepted. Any persons wishing to donate may contact Lavonda Smith at 366-2826 or Lauren Reviere at 367-2027.