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Special to The Washington Post
By Remar Sutton

A Cold Spell Hits The British Virgin Islands

Little Apple Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands—The well-known weather principle—that cold weather displaced by an unexpected hot spell must land on some other unexpected place—has been proven true once again as chilly, rainy weather originally destined for the beltway area descended on our little country for the past week and sent locals and “continentals” like me scurrying for a sweater and raincoat.

The rainy weather was a fine thing for those of us who live here: many of our lush mountainsides were looking a bit parched, rain cisterns were dipping to uneasy levels (rain is the primary water source here), and water truck drivers were smiling too much.

I am happy to say that a beltway resident was here to witness the rain and the chill. (He swears it went down to 72.) Peter Straub, from Silver Spring, is obviously an accomplished athlete at age 63. In one sentence in an email to me Peter dropped references to three upcoming bike trips and a Kenyan safari as casually as I occasionally drop a day of training from my Conch training schedule.

But Peter was awed by the hills of Tortola. “I took my bike,” he says, “and had a first on this trip: I got off the bike and walked down a hill.” Peter had hit 45 miles an hour on the hills before that one, and good sense rather than too much daring led him to walk a bit before biking again along less precipitous inclines. Moderation, again, is the true hero.

Joe MacKrell of Alexandria is just 39, but he’s Tortola bound in December, too. Joe read about the Conch life in The Post sixteen years ago, “thinking that it sounded cool; but I was just out of college and indestructible,” he says. “But now, guess what? I’m carrying around twenty extra pounds. Middle age hasn’t pulled into the pier yet, but is on the horizon.” Irv Chamberlain from Silver Spring has a similar sentiment. “As usual, chest and legs are in fine shape, the problem is always the middle.” (Do either of those sentiments ring true with you?)

Irene McDonnell nailed the Conch life, life in general, and my own life in two sentences in an email: “I remember your name and column in The Post from LONG ago [her emphasis],” Irene says, “you were starting this club thing and either moving to the BVI or organizing a team of sorts, or changing your life or something. Well, I wanted to join in, but somewhere along the way, my enthusiasm got lost in the shuffle of life. “Now,” Irene concludes, “to find the Conch Life once again! It’s my lucky day!”

Well, step right up, because guess what: the Conch life hasn’t passed you by. Today is the perfect day for you to start training.

  • You have enough training weeks left before our December event in beautiful Tortola to become a triathlete. If you just want to walk, you have enough training weeks left to go from an easy fifteen minute walk to a power walk up and down twenty-four miles of Tortolan hills.
  • And if you’ve already started training but are faltering a bit, take courage: the rest of this column contains exhilarating news:
  • We’ve taken over the lush Long Bay Beach Resort and Hotel just over the hill from me in Long Bay for the week of December 4-11. You do not have to stay at Long Bay to play with the Conchs. (And you don’t have to pay anything, either, to participate in our anchor event, the Walk of Tortola. It’s free.) But if you’ve been worrying about reasonable air and housing packages, Long Bay is offering them. (See our web site for details)
  • We now have scientific evidence that training on a Conch training calendar can change any person’s life and shape, and bring wealth and happiness. (Well, I guess the three following statements from Conchs in training are scientific proof. Okay, it’s not scientific. But what do those scientists know, anyway?)
    • “Thinking back to the first time I biked in week three, I biked for ten minutes, and could barely walk,” Patty Frey Borja says. Now Patty is helping her son deliver his paper route! Her son encourages Patty’s training.
    • “Does my wife’s nagging to get my butt moving count as progress?” asks one Virginian who requests anonymity and then answers, “In my case, yes!”
    • “I am on week eight, and enjoying every minute of it!” says Ruth Young, “It’s a piece of cake, with a few hills mixed in.”

Life is a piece of cake with a few hills mixed in, if you’re a Conch. Ask my friend Cita Leonard and the seven children Cita happily adopted when a relative died. Cita actually serves conch (don’t think about that too much) in her tiny Oceanside bistro in Apple Bay, and every one of her kids is helping in that restaurant as they excel in school.

Cita is not training officially on a Conch calendar—who needs an exercise program with seven kids?— however in December at our event she and the kids are hosting an oceanside Conch Fritter Party at Cita’s By The Sea.

But you don’t have to come to Tortola to experience the benefits of the Conch life. Just head to our web site and start reading! We guarantee miraculous results on an easy installment plan—just a wee bit of your time each day.

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