When Deirdre asked me to be a surprise guest blogger, I accepted the invitation immediately. Then I thought, “what am I going to write about?” Normally this is not a problem for us Edgerton men! As I jotted down ideas and some headings I suddenly realised what an enormous adventure Chris had set out upon.
As things start coming to an end, I realized I will not have my morning blog to look over and read at the breakfast table, like so many other people have done. I will not be able to tell any longer when Chris has had a physical day, or a day when mentally he has found it tough. I will not be able to tell when he has felt lonely or when he has been reflective. As someone with a close relationship with Chris, (can’t get much closer that his only brother), I have seen him go through every emotion during the past six weeks. In a few days, we will all go back to ‘normal’ and not be involved in Chris’s daily life to such an extent. For those people who are not family or close friends, following Chris’s ride will be something they will remember, but life will move on. It seems such a shame that something so interesting for us all is coming to an end. Unlike Chris, we probably want it to go on for longer. Now it is part of my ‘routine’, and I would hazard a bet also part of many other people’s daily life.
Me, Chris and Wink
I think that Chris’s ability to communicate with photo’s or technology, such as with the Facebook page has been fantastic. He has been able to show us where he has cycled, the mileage ridden, the feet climbed, and 3D maps of it all. All of this has not only been detailed and informative, but when combined with the blog has ‘sucked’ us all in. It is difficult to describe, or even comprehend, how many people’s lives this challenge has affected, all from a big adventure, and a few words written daily after a monumental climb, or a 100 plus mile ride into a headwind. It is surprising to me how social media influences today’s society. So many of my friends have never met Chris yet they are also followed him and his blog on a daily basis. I even had a chat with a friend at work who talked about Chris and Deirdre as if he had known them for years – such is the power of Facebook and the internet. Isn’t it great to see all this technology used for something good for once?
Reading the blogs has given us all a great view of the US, from the climbs in the first few days through to Flagstaff, to the rollers in Missouri, strange signs and interesting people, the punctures and the closed roads (how come no one knew about those in advance?). On a recent day off he wrote ‘The Longest Day’ blog, which was a reflection of his childhood with our Mum, whose birthday it would have been on that day. His superb description of what our Grandparents would have said if they had been alive today to see the culmination of a year’s work were so accurate that it very nearly brought tears to my eyes (I am the oldest remember so can’t admit to that kind of thing!). Our grandparents were so cool. Nan was always the one to ensure things were correct and that you had eaten properly. Grandpa was laid back, but underneath that ‘coolness’ he rang someone or met someone and anything you really wanted to get done was done, there and then, and you never found out it was him who made things happen. I can tell you they would have been so proud of Chris. Mum would have cried with pride as she always did when we achieved something special, whether it was winning the sack race in the junior school sports day or getting married.
Chris & Mum
Chris & Uncle Jim
Chris’s diet has caused concern to some people at times, and it definitely would have concerned Nan. I can hear her now wondering how much caffeine can one person drink in a day? Nan would have stopped him there and then had she seen the photograph of drinks in the hotel room on the early part of the ride. Irma would have been taken off him and put in the shed with everything else!
When you look back through the blogs you can see how much Chris has accomplished. When you look outside that, and look at what has gone on world wide, or even in our own lives, you realize that so much happens in six weeks. Donald Trump has caused more news than the rest of the world combined, including a meeting with the North Korean leader (Rocket Man as he was referred to by the Donald), the US Open golf tournament has been and gone (one of Chris’s favourite sporting adventures of the year), the soccer World Cup is well underway now and into the second week, the NBA finals and Stanley Cup have been decided, and a load more things, probably way more important, have passed us by.
For me personally during the time that Chris has been on Irma, I have been left dog-sitting whilst my wife went to England to see her sisters, during which time I lost my wallet, had someone smash into the back of my car, and had my appendix out. I also had a root canal and crown completed, sold our house (subject to contract) and started a new job. That has all happened in the time since Chris started his coast-to-coast adventure. That’s how long Chris has been pedalling away on Irma. Take a second and track back six weeks and see what has happened in your lives – probably as much as happened in mine, with lot of events, such as trips, weddings, births and so on. If you are still not sure, what this ride has been like, go and have a look at a map of the USA. Look at LA on the west coast and then look at Boston on the east coast. Regardless of the scale of the map, it is unbelievably impressive. Now try to imagine your legs going round in hundreds of thousands of circles to make it happen. And to think (I know it is bad grammar to start a sentence with ‘and’) that Chris only seriously started thinking of this incredibly difficult physical task less than a year ago!
What a year it has been. Chris and I went to the UK to play two of the world’s top 100 golf courses in May of last year. We played Walton Heath and Sunningdale. We also played two rounds at the Belfry. At the end of my trip, we met up with Deirdre, and played at Prestbury in the 10th Annual MTO Subway® Golf Tournament. I mention this trip as it was the first time Chris and I had spent an extended period of time alone together for many, many years, and I found out so much more about Chris than I ever knew. We returned from England after which Chris was told he may have Multiple Myeloma. He had to visit specialists, and so we had to cancel an already planned trip by him to Canada to play two of the best course in the country with myself, Tom and Joe. I knew that things were pretty serious as Chris would not patch up a game of golf anytime, especially with two of his nephews and his brother on Highland Links and Cabot Links in Cape Breton. Ultimately, he received his diagnosis. The news that Chris had an unpronounceable type of cancer was obviously more important than playing golf. The nice thing now is that thanks to the people at Mayo Clinic, and to people like Chris raising money for them to further research into this disease, we believe we can go and play these and other courses for many years to come.
In October, Chris, Deirdre and Irma came to see us in Canada. Chris by now was well into a training regime and wanted to cycle in colder, hilly conditions. He came to the right place, especially for the cold! I remember running him around Halifax buying new equipment for Irma, who at that time was still a new addition to the Edgerton family. In fact, this trip wasn’t long after Chris had sat through Hurricane Irma in Florida. For those not aware, it was this hurricane that provided the bike with the rather apt name. Our annual pilgrimage to Florida at Christmas was filled with discussion of plans and by that time, Chris was cycling for 5 days every week, if my memory serves me correctly (it doesn’t very often nowadays!). It was obvious to me at that point that Chris was going to succeed. As Deirdre pointed out in last week’s blog, determination is the hallmark of my brother. The completion of a ridiculously difficult jigsaw puzzle, that the six of us couldn’t even complete the border to, is testament to how Chris runs things to the end.
So young man, run this one to the end, and dip Irma into the water at Boston. Think of what Nan and Grandpa would have said, (you already know that), think of the smile that Jim would have given you, and then shed a tear like Mum would have done. At that point, we can think of something else to do!