Competitions usually throw you a curved ball and this one was no exception. When we arrived the sun was shining in all its glory, but by nightfall the clouds had thrown a blanket of gloom on proceedings and the rain came, changing the course into a different monster to conquer. The rain wasn’t too bad, but enough to make everything wet and slippery – as if things weren’t challenging enough.
To add insult to injury the moon was hiding and the light that was mounted on my helmet wasn’t strong enough to pierce the darkness sufficiently, so Sean kindly gave me his light to strap onto my handle bars. Armed with enough light to frighten a convoy of trucks and a borrowed raincoat I started my next lap into the dark, cold night.
Things were going sort of okay and I was coping quite well with all the challenges of only seeing a few metres ahead of me whilst negotiating hidden obstacles until I was about fifty metres in front of the forest. That’s when Sean’s light died on me. I had no option but to continue with what I had. In these situations we just bite the bullet and carry on. Little did I know what was waiting for me in that forest.
As I piloted my bike along the winding track through the undergrowth I was confronted by a spectacle which cannot be described by mere words. It was as if I had landed in the night-time garden scene of the movie Avatar because the light from my helmet was being reflected off the wet leaves on the trees in a surreal way giving a glowing fluorescent effect that appeared magical, as if I was travelling through a virtual landscape with shining leaves. This spectacle immediately changed my mood and I started enjoying my ride in spite of the difficult conditions. That image spurred me on to the end.
Fortunately a warm bed was waiting for me back at the camp. I settled in after a hot cup of tea and slept like a baby until my next lap which was early on Sunday morning.
I’d love to start with “at the crack of dawn,” but I was up at 4 a.m. It was still cold, gloomy and wet, but we were there to ride no matter what the conditions. At 5 a.m. I set out on my bike feeling a bit out of sorts. The 24 hour race is about endurance, testing you to the limits of your strength. When I told someone what I was going to do that weekend, he said I was mad.
So, in my madness and feeling rather drained I picked up where I left off the previous night, I pedalled around the wet course. Well, eventually I reached the other side of the forest again and, behold, there were horses grazing peacefully in the field to my right. Fortunately I had my camera and took the shot.
It looks like life is all about preparation. I had practiced and prepared as best I could for the race. I brought my camera along to take a few photographs of the team and the event, but I was pleased with the unusual scenes that I was able to snap along the course.
Sunday turned into a glorious sun-shiny day again and at 1:20 p.m. it was all over. We packed our camping gear away and went to the hall to collect our medals – it was a proud moment.
The success of an undertaking like this depends on a lot of planning and preparation long before you even arrive at the event. What we learned from the experience will enable us to prepare better for future events and the next 24 hour race in 2013. To everyone that contributed to our success we say a big thank you. It was a great team effort and your support was much appreciated.
Our gas stove was sponsored by Gas Solutions; the chairs were provided by Toyz 4 Boyz who also loaned us an LED lamp to see in the dark as well as the camping gear. Support for various necessities where also provided by: High Performance Carriers; Chop Chop Paintshop; Dominion School of Hair; Herlec; Bright Idea Project; Lamitt Turbo and Zubaida Ebrahim from Hyper Foam. Thanks also go to International and Cycle World in Bloemfontein.