Reading these words on the certificate during the Lifecycle Welcome Back party, the success of this event starts to sink slowly in. Over two months have passed since our return from Lifecycle. We all made it home safe and sound and I couldn't wait to get on my bike again.
Ever since I signed up for this year's Challenge, my life has revolved practically around it, such was my commitment towards it. The months preparing for the event, and the actual Challenge itself, have passed in a blur and now my life has reverted back to normal, whatever normal might be.
Whilst cycling through the roads of Turkey and Syria, I had already started to draft this final chapter as irrespective of whether I completed the whole Challenge or not, there were a number of people that I really felt the need to thank publicly.
So here goes.........
Thank you for all your patience, dedication and attention. I certainly did get a lot of attention from you guys, and you helped make it possible for me to continue when my injuries could have potentially forced me to stop!
Kitchen Team - Theresa Azzopardi, Jennifer Chetcuti, Stephanie Galea
At the end of a gruelling day, it was great to know that a lovely warm meal, with loads of second and third helpings were always waiting for us. Your cheers of encouragement as we cycled into the accomodation each evening, irrespective of the hour, was an extra bonus, that we always looked forward to!
Photography - Ray Pace
Ray, your photos and documentary will provide us with an everlasting memory of this adventure but it is not just the photos that I will remember you for but also for your quiet encouragement which was a great source of support especially when the going was getting very tough.
Backup - Liz Ambrogio, Ray 'Space' Calleja, Stephanie Caruana, Shirley Cefai, Soner Gurelli, Edward Mercieca, Mario Scerri, Hulya Tosun
Liz - our bionic woman, Swiss army precision (as Alan put it in one of his briefings), you made sure our stuff got from A to B safely, amongst other things that we are probably not aware of!.
Edward, it was such a joy to reach a check point and find you there with your larger than life personality, big smile and laughter. And we were never more happier to see you than when you came to our accomodation in Damascus safe and sound after you little adventure with the Syrian army.
Mario, you never said much but just one particular look from you and I'd push harder to get the next check point.
Ray Space - always running around to ensure that our chains were well oiled (I didn't have the need to oil my chain since then :)), checking our tyres for the right pressure. Sometimes you gave a quiet word of encouragement which was always welcome.
Shirley - didn't see much of you as you were always in the front vehicle, but we know that you contributed alot towards this event.
Hulya - Muglu Guglu!!! Always ready to give a helping hand with a smile. A hug when needed. Your commitment and support towards our well being was amazing. I miss you!
Stephanie - our guiding light, setting up of signs on the road meant that you were one of the first to leave the accomodation in the morning, so we didn't see much of you, but the little we saw enabled us to get some great encouragement and morale support
Soner - when tackling a tough hill you always came to mind. Perhaps not always in a friendly way, but nevertheless, it was always nice to see your smile when you clocked us in at the end of the day!
Organiser, Chairperson, Task master etc. - Alan Curry
Alan - Yes there were times when most of us felt like strangling you but never was a time when I lost our respect towards you. Organising Lifecycle is no mean feat. Having to deal with so many different characters in difficult surroundings is not an enviable position. There are things that we might not see eye to eye on but I still thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in something so special as is Lifecycle.
The ones with us in spirit..John Cassar, Cliff Micallef
John, I can imagine how hard it was for you to be left behind because of an injury that was far from your fault. Watching us train, as we prepared for the journey, your support, enthusiasm and encouragment never faltered. Your support towards the team and positive attitude were an inspiration.
Cliff , no words can explain the void you left in our team. I didn't have to know you for a long time for you to have an effect on me. I still have your mobile number stored in my phone as a memory of the good times we shared whilst training.
Cyclists - Robert Zammit, Jesmond Desira, Simon J. Camilleri, Anthony Vella, Luke Marshall, Lenny Degiorgio, Nicholas Valenzia, Paul Cave, Maria Muscat, Pierre Spiteri, Nicholas Calleja, William Saliba, Ian Chaytor, Nigel Micallef, Julian Curmi, Carolina Merino Wells.
It was an honour for me to be in the Lifecycle Challenge with you. Cycling together, battling killer hills, fierce winds and intense heat to reach Damascus together. Your enthusiasm, dedication and teamwork was inspiring.
Jesmond, thank you for your encouragement and pacing which definitely helped me make it to the finish successfully. You certainly deserve the Award you were given.
Saving the best for last a HUGE THANK YOU goes to my cycling buddy Robert Zammit. Without you I would not have completed Lifecycle. We started this together and finished it together. Your sense of teamwork is outstanding. Ready to risk your timings to help me and others, even though people urged you to think about yourself you have really shown what teamwork and friendship is all about. I am proud to have cycled with you buddy!
Final word of thanks goes to my loved ones, friends, family, colleagues and sponsors who supported me throughout this adventure.
Good night and thank you!