Sunday, 5 April 2015

Post Race Reflections

My goal at the start was to finish in 55 hours or less. It was never going to be easy. However, there was a time during the early part of the race when I thought 48 hours was on the cards. As it is we finished in 63 hours 35 minutes. We had endured 14 hours of rain and I had squeezed in about 2 hours of sleep - Casper a whole lot more. Our unscheduled stop on the Elandsberg portage had cost us about 8 hours and it was there that my hopes of racing my age evaporated. However, if you were to ask me which section of the race was the most memorable I would have to say it was the night on Elandsberg. Money can't buy experiences like that. I look forward to doing that section in the future and would welcome the challenge of doing it in the dark again. 
A few words about Casper. It was never my intention to do the ride with anyone else. I am completely comfortable in my own company. I knew of Casper from past races and he had been generous in supporting the Scholarship Fund through my last Race to Rhodes endeavour. I had never met him in person. Stepping in to the dining room at The Rubicon when I arrived in Rhodes I met him for the first time. We clicked immediately and by the time dinner was eaten we had a loose alliance. He has all the characteristics that epitomise a Freedom Challenge rider - A quiet humility coupled with tenacity. 
In truth he was the stronger rider and could well have beaten me by many hours. That's just not the way he rolls - he has a high regard for alliances. 
We laughed a lot and he had an appreciation of my dry humour. He trusted me implicitly with the navigation and when I did falter on Elandsberg it didn't faze him one bit. 
I like to think that through this journey he got to experience a little of the dark side of endurance racing. By that, I hope he had a renewed appreciation of his ability to push boundaries. To move forward relentlessly and go beyond exhaustion and stifle discomfort to emerge at the end of the experience with a bit of "Wow, I did that!" Casper is the kind of person you would want at your side if ever you had to go to war. 
I, as indicated by my blog name "Adventures of an Ordinary Cyclist" am very ordinary. I am ordinary in my ability to ride a bike. I can't ride faster or better than any of my friends. I merely want different things from these races. I want to go beyond. Whilst pushing boundaries and piling on non-stop miles I try not to be so focussed on that one goal that I don't take time to smell the roses. I attempt to take in all the small detail. The one thing I do miss out on is the extended hospitality of the support stations. Fortunately, most years I get to do a recce ride down the trail where I spend quality time at the support stations ahead of the race.
These race blogs are intended primarily for people who have ridden the trail. They get to fill in the blanks from their own experiences and relive in some way the rich pleasure of living on your bike for a few short days or weeks as the case may be. 
Casper mentioned an incident related to me that he wouldn't have heard from me. I asked him how he knew. His reply "From your blog. I read about your adventures on the Freedom Challenge from your blog and that's how I came to do it."
That makes it all worthwhile. 
Would I do this race again? I can't think of a single reason why not. In the words of Casper who messaged me earlier "Do you know that I don't have a single bad memory,hardship yes but bad memories,no"
Right now it's time to rest up a little and then begin preparations for the Race to Rhodes in June. 


Aileen said...

Mike - I think you are really ANYTHING but ordinary in so many ways. I love to read your adventures.

Trackz said...

Mike, you are indeed ordinary ... EXTRA ordinary. Your "reckless" and inspiring endeavors has me setting some stretch goals for my next adventures. Thank you for showing us we are never to old to take on a good challenge and push our boundaries. Long may yours continue!

Stewrat Lombard said...

Thanks for a really entertaining write up Mike. Maybe I need to step up from riding between overnight support stations to try the no-stop / limited stop version. I seem to take too many photos at the moment though. :-)

Marnitz said...

Racing at that speed , no ordinary cyclist at all.....