As I join the path on the bridge I am pleased my expectation of a head wind was correct as I prefer a tail wind when returning across the bridge. I change gears and settle in to an easy cadence and a speed a little short of 30 kph for the next 3 kilometres.
It is New Year’s Eve and I intend to ride about 70 kilometres and in doing so, complete a Strava/Rapha challenge to ride 500 kilometres between Christmas and New Years Eves. Due to being away, I have had just 5 days to do the distance however in reality, 500 kilometres is a target rather than a need and if I don’t achieve it so be it. There are over 82000 throughout the world signed up to do the 500 k and it is fun to be a part of this world wide pop up Strava community. *
Looking across the bay to my right, the morning is clear and bright and off in the distance I can see my turn around point at Scarborough. While there are no signs of the predicted storms, it is obvious it will get much hotter, quickly.
There are a few walkers, skaters, runners and fellow cyclists on the bridge as well as two groups with fishing equipment heading for the fishing platform. I wondered what they will catch.
The end of the bridge is near and I go through my mental checklist to look right as I exit the bridge and to also ensure any cyclist coming on to the bridge from the opposite direction are keeping left. So often they do not.
The bridge exit is simple and I allow my bike to slow naturally as we level out before applying gentle pressure to the pedals just to maintain momentum. I know there is a half loop around a tree coming up and a need to break so any acceleration now is wasting energy.
About 20 metres short of the loop, I am positioning to apex the curve and note an ambulance. For any cyclist, the site of an ambulance strikes concern as we always default to it being an injured cyclist. I also note a Police Car.
And almost instantaneously I am hard on the brakes and cursing the all but transparent police ribbon strung across and blocking the path. It is incredibly hard to see.
Now at a complete stop, I hear the heavy braking of another cyclist behind me and brace for the impact. Thankfully my “brace” was not required.
There is no obvious need for the area being surrounded by the Police ribbon and my thinking is recent storms have caused a branch to become unstable and unsafe. I look at the tree and can see nothing loose until………..
…………At the foot of the tree is a person, a person who no longer draws breath. There is a sheet/towel covering them but clearly a lifeless body is at the foot of the tree.
There is no frantic activity within the ribboned off area and I note the writing on the Police ribbon does not reference “crime scene”.
There is an alternative narrow walking path heading to a toilet block that bypasses the scene so I take that and continue.
But my mind is on the deceased. I have no idea what their circumstances or situation is. All I know is that someone’s Son, Daughter, Brother, Sister, Mother or Father was alive yesterday and today is not.
Were they out walking or running when it happened or were they sleeping out and passed while asleep? Did they pass at their own hand?
I have to remind myself to concentrate on my cycling as I am now on the road and there are cars around, although at 6.30am on New Years Eve, not many cars.
The suddenness at which life extinguishes is what strikes me. It is immediate and it is complete.
I wonder about how the deceased viewed their life and hope they felt at least some level of fulfillment and satisfaction. I have no reason to think otherwise.
I also wonder what regrets they took with them. I wonder what they wish they had done, what adventure they let go by and of any relationships they wished they had acted to reconcile.
I hoped there were none.
This event was a reminder to me, to have no regrets and to have no regrets on a daily basis.
* I did make the 500 kilometres and achieved a ranking of 14,714 out of 82,562 who signed up..