So a small crowd gathered early Friday morning at Winstead Stables to start what would be an eventful few days of cycling. The M.A.D. crew mounted their bikes at 4:50 am and set off into the beautiful sunrise with mixed feelings. Some were just happy that it was finally long weekend after a tough week and others equally happy just to ride their bikes again. Although not everyone would admit it, all of them shared the slightly nervous feeling in anticipation of what the weekend would deliver.
Cycling from Springs to Reitz passing Devon, Balfour, Villiers, and finally Frankfort was no easy task, especially on the first day of a tour! The excitement soon gave way to quiet determination as the kilometres ticked off slowly. By 180km all sense of humour was lost on everyone who had signed up for Ironman PE 2017, realising the challenge they had taken on, not to mention having to run a marathon after that. It was exactly what was left for the day, just over 40 km, luckily by bike and not on foot, having us end on 227km. Colin managed to break the somewhat tender atmosphere lingering in the group as he showed off his exceptional stationary bike handling skills at the end of the day. A few moments later, after a warm welcome from the owner and staff at Maritza’s, the characteristic laughter of the M.A.D. club could be heard again.
While everyone was still sleeping (aka licking their wounds) Coach Mike Moriarty set off on an early 60k bike ride, continuing with his 94km in 94 days. With a 9:00 am start the 110km’s from Reitz to Kestell felt like a relief, but as the day passed the aftermath of the previous day was evident. It is here where Colin just put ‘voet in die hoek’ and got it over with. #dit_is_nie_’n_losskrum_nie_Colin! #strong_like_an_ox. Lauren proved her mettle by completing the day in good shape, after her back and neck started taking strain with little time on the bike during the hard year she has had. #getting_BACK_into_it #no_pun_intended! It was Candy’s privilege to break the sombre mood when she summed up the day in only two words (not to be repeated again). #the_most_positive_person_alive! Coach finished his 94km’s for the day after sitting in the support vehicle for the whole day. The warm welcome and exceptional home cooked meal at Hoekfontein was just what the group needed to recharge their batteries for the monster day that lay ahead.
When the Coach wakes up in an exceptionally good mood you just have to know that whatever’s coming will most likely be just about as hard as it gets. Sunday was no exception, with 220km planned from Kestell through Golden Gate National Park to Clarens, then the long stretch to Bethlehem, Reitz and finally Frankfort. After a 5:00 am start, the day was unfortunately cut short and ended on 160km in Reitz. The disappointment was evident as no one wanted to cut it short after enduring what they already had during the long, hot day. Martin showed himself and everyone else his true worth by climbing Golden Gate like a champ after struggling with some cramps earlier on the tour. #machine_becoming_lean
Coach was taking pictures with all his MADletes at the top of the first climb, and suddenly everyone realised why he was in such a good mood….only 50km on the clock and murmurs of culpable homicide start appearing! Colin and Justin missed the turn into Clarens, and while the rest had a break they were gruelling it out towards Bethlehem. It was easy enough to convince Justin to turn around after the climb out of Clarens…Coach just mentioned food! Justin’s pure grit was evident when he climbed out of Clarens (for a second time) leaving everyone in his wake, and this for someone with more metal in his back than actual bone. Would hate to see how fast he goes when he upgrades to carbon fibre! #IRONman #no_pun_intended
Due to some small climbs in Golden Gate the planned breakfast in Bethlehem turned into a quiet lunch with Candy too bleak to utter even two words. Jackie came to the rescue by sorting well deserved take-outs and milkshakes. Bethlehem to Reitz turned out to be hazy, distant memory. Feeling guilty for not arriving in Frankfort on a bicycle was soon forgotten as the luxury at De Hoek Guesthouse soothed the tender souls and backsides of a somewhat shell-shocked group. Coach was in his element, proud of everyone digging deep and doing their best.
A divine breakfast set off the fourth and final day with 160km to go, tracking our way back from Frankfort to Springs. Coach once again had that smile on his face when the wind was evidently not going to be in our favour for the whole day. #always_good_at_making_friends #love_to_see_that_smile! By now everyone knew what was expected of them and just got on with it. It is incredible how a group starts to function on day 4 of a tour and the sweet sensation of those rolling wheels became the song of the day. Jackie set out to do the whole 160km, squashing any doubt of her capabilities. #I_wish_you_would_do_it_more_often #could_just_as_well_be_vegan_but_turned_catholic_instead! DelaRey was in his element and managed to pace the group well, finding the fine balance between people dropping off and the rest talking too much! #dont_go_too_fast_or_you’ll_miss_the_turnoff #having_too_much_fun. In the blink of an eye the day was finished and, before you knew it, so was the tour. All smiles and laughter, with the pain and discomfort forgotten, as the Winn’s welcome with a braai, cold pool and beer finished the tour in the best way possible. The final conclusion was that the Free State was indeed not flat.
The cycle tour proved to test each and every one. Some failed, some passed, by their own standards or those of others. It is out on the road where our true character comes into play. Realising that there is no such thing as failure, but only opportunities to grow, is the key to making and acting out decisions we make to better ourselves every day. It is out in the arena where one meets oneself and choosing to be vulnerable enough to face that ‘self’, head on with compassion, integrity and creativity; here where we only start catching a glimpse of the true meaning of the potential within. Few of us have the opportunity to share that space with others as we have done this weekend. Celebrating the brief moment called life is part of what M.A.D. Multisport is about. Maybe that’s why Coach was smiling so much? Everyone should be excited when you guys and gals finally toe the line at next year’s race!
And then to quote a well-respected person: ‘Ek weet nie wie’t hierdie party ge-organise nie…maar ek dink dit was ‘n moerse sukses!’
Thank you FRED’S Autobody for the support vehicle!