On Saturday, June 3rd, I partook in an urban mountain bike race around Johannesburg which included riding through stormwater drains, climbing man-made scaffold bridges, navigating mountainous rocky patways and blindly cycling through dark underground tunnels.
The course was 72km (45 miles) long and was very tough. I do not think I was fully prepared for what lay ahead (considering I was close to being one of the last to cross the finish line and around 3hrs behind the race leader) but I know I did the best I could with the time and resources I had and you know what? I did it. I finished the race.
I completed the race in 06:03:27 and couldn’t be happier. This was the furthermost distance and longest time spent on my bike in one sitting. Funny enough, the following day I was a lot less sore than what I thought I would be. The next day I experienced mild discomfort in my shoulders, neck, and traps. This was from being hunched over in one spot for several hours.
It was a long race and would put my body, mind, and training to the test. Going into the race, I kept experiencing nagging thoughts of wanting to ‘know’ that I could ‘definitely’ finish the race. But even when being faced with the “3,2,1” countdown to the race start, I had no evidence that I would be able to conquer the figurative and literal mountain in front of me.
During the race, there were many times where I had to talk myself down from thoughts of quitting and giving up. Through burning thighs, an aching back and lungs aflame I had to keep going. There was work to be done and no time to complain.
Gareth and I, at the finish line with our Punisher medalsI love moments in life like these. Moments where you do something that should not have been possible. Moments like these are very addictive. We humans, love progress. Defying the odds. Being the underdogs. Sticking it to the ‘man’ etc. Whatever you call it, it is deeply satisfying to conquer these mountains and inevitably move on to the next challenge to overcome (next up – 94.7 Challenge).
Whose with me?!
Trav’s Tips for taking the challenge and completing it.
- Don’t give yourself a chance to escape. Register for the event, buy the ticket, say yes!
- Do not wait to see if you are ready for it. Decide to do it and then start preparing. You can spend weeks debating whether or not to do the challenge and it could have been spent training and getting ready. Trust me, this was my major downfall with the 2017 Bealieu 45km MTB challenge (which was much harder because I decided to do the race the morning of the event).
- Get a Partner to do it with you. Look for someone who can support and push you through it. This was vital for me – thanks Gary!
- Physically prepare yourself and get sufficient training. You will honestly stand on the start line feeling like you could have done more. You probably could have, but you’re here now and it’s ‘Go Time’. Forget about the “Maybes” and “What ifs” and go for it.
- Get ready – mentally. Build some mental toughness. Be realistic with yourself and the challenge ahead. Even though I diligently trained my body and ate clean, the day before the race I kept repeating “It won’t be easy but you will do it”. I was right.