A quiet cycling mob of nearly 500 friends, family, neighbors, and strangers respectfully pedaled the streets of downtown Charleston on Saturday morning to honor Edwin Gardner, who died from injuries sustained in a bicycle accident on Wed. July 21.
Riders gathered at Cannon Park to pick up a commemorative T-shirt designed by Edwin’s nieces and nephews before heading down Rutledge Avenue. At the Battery, the cyclists were met by a small flotilla of boats, including the two wooden rowing boats Edwin built 15 years ago in a program he spearheaded to connect African-American kids with their maritime heritage.
Out in the harbor, the rowers held their oars silently in the air, and an empty yellow dinghy was symbolically tethered to one of the boats. The sailors then conducted a touching ceremony, throwing a wreath into the water, singing the “Mingulay Boat Song,” and reciting Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The Thorkild’s Song” as the bikers along the shore tossed flowers into the harbor.
On the way back to Cannon Park, the cyclists took a route past the scene of the accident. Many got off their bikes to sign the white ghost bike that appeared at the site last week. The morning ended where it began with some folks taking the microphone to share stories about their friend.
Organizer Peter Wilborn was thrilled with the turnout, and there is already talk about making the ride an annual event. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the memory of our friend.