Sunday, 7 June 2015
Bomb Proof Your Race
Over the years very few people have dropped out of the Race to Rhodes. On the other hand there have been a good number of riders on the Race Across South Africa that have pulled out before getting to Rhodes. Amongst them some notable riders who have had fast finishes before or since and a few less notable ones such as this writer. I didn't even finish day 2.
There are some good reasons to call it a day and catch the next lift home and some even better reasons why you should rather vasbyt. One reason to hang in there is articulated as 'I have some unfinished business!' Leaving the trail without a previous finisher draping a blanket over your shoulders starts out as a little disappointment that is 'understandable under the circumstances'. By the time you get home you have an invisible companion who at first resembles a cute organ grinders monkey. In the days, weeks and months that follow the cuteness is supplanted by a monkey that weighs you down and needs constant feeding.
The only way to get it off your back is to wheel your bike back under the clock of the Pietermaritzburg town hall the following year. While that sounds like a good plan consider the following. The first time you enter the race the sacrifices made in time and energy is massive. I am yet to address the sacrifices made by the rider, I am addressing the sacrifices made by the people around the rider - family, friends and work colleagues. Don't make them go through all that for nothing.
So what's a good reason? Your leg falls off. Maybe a few other reasons. I have experience in this regard. If you have a physical impediment such as a broken leg, torn muscle or other ailment that makes it impossible or dangerous to continue then by all means get Uber up on your phone and hail a taxi.
If in the other hand you are simply tired and/or morbid, that's a poor excuse. Here is the formula to get through that. The first step takes place months before the start. Brag to everyone within earshot that you are doing the Race Across South Africa and promise your child a finishers blanket. Having to face them afterwards sans blanket is a serious motivator to hang in. Secondly, never give up until you have slept on it. Things seem better the next day. Thirdly, and I have loads of experience in this, understand that your best day on the Freedom Trail is likely to follow a day or two after your worst. When that happens you start to wonder what you were thinking when you wanted to give up.
To family and friends reading this, if your riding champion calls and indicates that they can't go on. Don't sympathise. Remind them why they started and put the phone down.
It's flippin' hard out there but home sympathy doesn't help one bit.
Bad weather sucks but it rarely lasts more than a few days. Ride it out and even consider doing shorter rides each day until it clears.
Lastly, I do understand that non physical challenges can bring a ride to an end. If you have a few days on the trot where you are hollow and completely joyless then go home. Rather live to fight another day.
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- Johannesburg, South Africa
- Just an ordinary guy who started riding in 2005 at the age of 45. I started with the ambition of completing the local 94.7 Cycle Challenge (94.7km). This is an annual road cycle race in and around Johanesburg. Some where along the way it become a race and not merely a completion excercise. I clocked a 2h54 in my first attempt only 6 months from my first trundle down the road and back. I was hooked and then discovered the magic of MTB. While my efforts on the road were credible, MTBing humbled me. Having said that, over the last 24 months I have competed in 9 multi-day events. I'm a very middle of the field rider, but I enjoy every minute of it.