From Queen Elizabeth Olympia Park, London E20 2ST.
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Huge thanks to Jimmy, Joe, Billy and Tom (TEAM JOSH) for taking on this amazing challenge, helping The Compassionate Friends to support bereaved parents and siblings. The intrepid team took on 100 miles in the saddle across London and Surrey in honour of Joshua Edmonds (son to Jimmy, brother to Joe) to raise funds for TCF.
They did it! Jimmy Edmonds writes in early August 2016:
" There’s a moment when we’re cornering in Dorking town centre with the crowds cheering “come on Team Josh”, then standing on the pedals to ride out of the bend when I felt on top of the world and I could do anything. There was another moment half way up Leith Hill when everything just seemed to stop, my legs deciding they would prefer to be lying on a beach somewhere else. But Josh’s brother Joe was having none of it and dared them to keep pedalling. It worked.
It's like grief… grief is work, sometimes very hard work and you need others around you to keep going. And I had the best team with me to cycle the 100 miles (and over 4000 feet of climbing) of the Prudential Ride London to Surrey Sportive this July.
The day started at 5 am – time for a quick breakfast and a last minute bike check, before heading off to join 25,000 others at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London. This is a seriously well organised event and cyclists ride off in 61 different waves – to get a place on what is cycling’s equivalent of the London Marathon you either take your chance in the individuals ballot or ride for a charity. TCF CEO Carolyn Brice asked if I could raise a team much earlier in the year and I am so grateful for the opportunity to take part – a much needed chance as I see it, to ‘work our grief’.
Because that is what we do. We are all keen and committed cyclists and to put the pain and the pleasure of what that entails to honouring Josh (and to pick up a few donations for TCF on the way) is to engage with our loss in truly physical and emotional way – I’m sure Susan Faulkner found the same on her adventure from Bristol to Liverpool – its cathartic and a big part of creating something new from the “broken shards of the life we once had” (that’s a quote from one of our American friends, trauma specialist Bob Neimeyer).
Well for me, the pain kicked in around about the 50 mile mark, though at that stage it was mostly saddle sore. Then came the two big hills, Leith and Box which drained most if not all of the remaining energy from my legs. But weirdly by the time we had reached Kingston (just 20 miles out) things started to turn around and apart from a minor moment on Wimbledon Hill I was spinning like never before. How does this happen? What is it about our pain, about our tiredness, about our grief that somewhere there’s a place we can dig in and find new life?
With just a couple of miles to go, with a speed of a round 18 mph, tight in on Joe’s wheel (we call it drafting – if you ride close enough to the rider in front you can save 30% energy simply by being in the slipstream) I can feel all the pain and the pleasure coming together and rising up with pride and emotion – this is all about Josh and all those who have supported us. And after crossing the finish line the tears flow easily".
(Team Josh finished with an official time of 7 hours and 33 minutes. But that included a huge standstill while they waited for an accident to clear – their unofficial time was 6 hours and 10 minutes! To date the Just Giving fundraising page has raised over £2000. Thank you to everyone who contributed - donations are still being taken)