The Facts Distance: 361km Saddle time: 18hrs 33min 55s Time sliced off from 2017: 2hr 44min 12s Position: 50 Hours of training: Well that’s more of a mystery The Story Behind The Facts Just take a few minutes to take that in. 50th. Yes, you …
I grew up with the voice of Jean Valjean and the emotive music and lyrics of Les Miserables escaping my dad’s study and filtering through the rest of the house. Those who have watched the musical or the movie will understand how growing up with this in the background I was bound to have a soft spot for the underdog, the little people in this world. I remember rehearsing the song, ‘Little People’, sung by the young cocky yet endearing Gavroche, with my dad and sister one weekend. In the song Gavroche says, ‘The world is big but little people turn it around.’ I couldn’t agree more.
Yes, you change the world through SpaceX, Tesla and Google. But you also change the world through the kindness you show to those immediately surrounding you. By the conversations you have with strangers who become friends. By listening. By understanding. And by sharing your joy with those around you. This is how the little people change the world in a big way.
This section is dedicated to the little people I’ve met. Some through cycling. Some through medicine. Some through coffee. All of them are changing the world in their own way. And most of them are unaware of it.
“I wish you could always see life through your cycling sunglasses”, my boyfriend says to me when I phone him jabbering a jumble of excited words after my first mountain biking skills lesson with Julien Louw (http://www.mtbskillsclinics.co.za/ ). Let’s face it, life just makes sense when your butt’s on a saddle, feet are cleated in, mouth is slightly salty from the sweat dripping from your brow and heart is racing even faster than you’re navigating obstacles. Those of you who’ve been there know exactly what I mean. Those of you who are still contemplating that first pedal, have an indescribable joy awaiting you.
It’s similar to that nervous joy you experience when you receive your first bicycle. Mine was when I was 5. It was pink….obviously, with white tyres and saddle and little side wheels. It was the most beautiful thing I’d seen in my 5 years of life. It was definitely love at first sight and riding it made my head spin and heart flutter. True love. And then, like many relationships, the passion frizzled out and it became a functional relationship. A way to get from A to B. A way to stay fit. A way to recover from a running injury. I even decided to go for skills lessons for a functional reason initially. To get better at technical sections. Why? To beat people of course.
What happened to just having…and I’m forced to use the F word here…Fun?
Enter, James Coetzee, of BMT Stellenbosch (http://bmtsa.co.za/). “Remember to play on your bike”, he nonchalantly said, at a skills session. When you start to see your bike as a toy, your surroundings become a massive playground. Every bump, dip and in Danny MacAskill’s case fence, becomes an opportunity to play some more. Some of us lose this inner child in adult world. Not the one with neon lights but one that perhaps you should’ve rather been warned about. At some stage we venture in and we trade in our imagination, fearlessness, playfulness for responsibility, worry, apprehension. We leave our playful child behind. The one who does backflips into swimming pools, taunts an ostrich and then runs as fast as her skinny little legs can carry them, sings ‘Hier Kom Die Bokke’ at the top of her lungs in the UK after the Springboks won the rugby world cup and dances pretty much everywhere. That little confident fun loving person gets put under an old sheet in the garage along with the pink bike and is forgotten about.
This year I’m letting her out again. The aim is to play. To have fun. To fall, laugh and then get up and try again. To let go. And to ultimately see life through lumo pink cycling sunglasses.