Friday, 13 May 2016

Another year, another race. Race Across South Africa 2016

As the sun heads north and autumn leaves scurry around my yard, my head space is filled with memories of the many yesteryears spent riding the Freedom Trail.

I have ridden the full extent of the trail on 3 previous occasions and taken part in 6 of the shorter events. When my days are done cut me through my core like an aged tree and examine the narrowed growth rings where I spent my winters pedalling across the frozen landscape. 2011 would be a blip as I only lasted a day and a half before forced out by injury. 2013 would show no anomalies as I was merely a spectator. The other rings from 2007 through 2016 would be narrowed and gnarled.
They would bear witness to days and nights spent pitting myself against the elements and facing up to my own shortcomings and doubts. Times of deep personal reflection and discovery - failure and despair interwoven with moments of intense joy and unimaginable achievement. Lean in and look a little closer. The rings might be narrow but they will be full of character. The tough conditions would have wrought rich patterns of growth. It is these dense and dark coloured rings that add to the richness and character of the heartwood that would bear witness to a life not devoid of interest and adventure.

Over the last few weeks as I step out into the cold mornings I am aware of how the sun has yielded to the dulling grip of winter - each day it surrenders a little more. While it might signal the end of summer it sparks in me a renewed sense of excitement - It's Freedom Challenge season.

The frigid morning air against my face combined with the sound of a crowing cockerel carried across from the smallholding opposite puts a smile on my face. Instead of a golf fairway I see the flood plains of the Knira river crisscrossed with cattle paths that lead to Queens Mercy. I am transported to the tiny village of Black Fountain nestled among the mountains. I yearn to be out there.

I have entered the Race Across South Africa 2016 and go in search of my 4th finishers blanket. I only have 4 more weeks of yearning. All too soon I will be threading my way through the forests of Donnybrook and crunching across the frozen landscape of Ntsikeni. Not long now. Not long at all. Another year another dense growth ring.

Last year while racing to Rhodes I tweeted the following. It was true then and it's still true now: "They say that home is where your heart is. My adventure heart is home here on the trail we call Freedom."


Afrivence said...

Love the way this was written! It brings a sense of excitement in that on my second attempt at RASA after a failed in 2014...hoping for positive outcomes! Thanks for sharing!

Johann Rissik said...

Wonderfully evocative descriptions, Mike. Thank you. Not long now ;)

jt said...

Your writing reverberates my exact sentiment, in a very eloquent manner :) . Man i am excited!

Peter said...

Mike - always so eloquent and inspiring, both when writing and when encouraging fellow riders in search of their blankets.

David Kruger said...

Well written. I am looking foward to going as far as Rhodes.