It sounded like a cool vacation-type day, exploring the coastline, dreamily driving through the quaint villages, stopping to take some pics, experimenting with the local cuisine, and finally dipping your toes in the ocean, relaxing on some secluded beach sipping on your favourite beverage. Life in the tropics.
That’s one way to tour Tobago – Trinidad’s charming sister isle. But I met a bunch of determined, strong-minded, never-give-up, leave-no-man-behind kind of tourists, who took Tobago by storm – on their bikes. Oh, and I am quite sure there must have been some level of ‘crazy’ in them as well – but that’s another story.
Before the sun could rise, vital supplies were packed, bikes prepped, minds set and off we went. And by ‘we’ I mean, me donned with my camera in a vehicle, and the rest of the group on their bikes (just to be clear). What initially seemed like a cool, slow, leisurely ride around the island quickly turned into a gruelling test of will, strength, preparedness and sheer gut. They pumped their way up and down, up and down some of the steepest hills, with sharp hairpin corners, in the hot midday sun. Stopping only to refuel, regroup and start all over again. Their minds set on the finish line and the oh so rewarding moment when you realise that you have just completed a 102km ride, climbing 2,700m, some sections with a gradient of 15-18%, 5-7 hours of riding your heart out.
I learned a lot on this tour. I learned that your mind is probably your most powerful tool. I learned that your body can endure far more than you give it credit for. And quite unexpectedly, I also learned a few choice words to add to my ever-expanding vocabulary.
Who won? They all won. If nothing else, they won my complete admiration.
The day did end with the ‘sipping on your favourite beverage’ part, near to a body of water. Not to mention the telling and re-telling of the many personal stories of the day. There was laughter, camaraderie, relief and most of all a great sense of accomplishment.
You people are all my heroes.
(I’ve included a short video for those wishing to see the heroes of the day)