Where to begin. Well it’s now 18 months since I have owned a bike and only started cleating in March this year. I could possibly be the most paranoid cyclist in Cape Town, hate drafting, dislike cycling in groups and don’t get me started on the downhills. So why would I enter DC? A mixture of FOMO, challenging myself with all my silly worries and who gets the opportunity to cycle with 11 amazing people – so I grabbed it!

2 weeks before the race the nerves truly started setting in, I naturally started carbo loading (stresseating) to then realise a week before the race I had picked up 3 kg’s, bloated as hell and battling with my IBS. So I did what any stupid amateur athlete would do, I fasted, for 36 hours the Tuesday before the race! Cut out all carbs, ate strict clean eating and of course when it came to Saturday was as flat as Pam’s tyres 😉

The morning came, my nerves were shattered. Team huddled together, bike check, helmet check, food check, sense of humour – GONE. At this stage I am honestly trying my best to fight the tears and hide just how petrified I am of doing this race. WHY AGAIN?

And off we go. The first few km’s we take it nice and slow, I’m feeling OK. We go over the 2 passes, and actually not too bad. Yea, it’s high and long but nothing we haven’t done before. At 60km I’m 100% confident this will be a walk in the park. Lots of laughs, chatter, support, Gilly pointing out all the positives – Look at the beautiful mountain, look at that amazing tree, wow what a gorgeous hill J really lifted my spirit.

woman-cycling-helmet

The sight of our first team stop was just happiness. Our support team was nothing short of amazing. Rushing to get us cold water, food, sunblock, toilet paper – I can’t imagine doing this without the support team.

And now we off 115km (ish) just to 160km – quick quick. Yussus did we keep it tight. I felt like we were unstoppable. Unfortunately I slowed the team down a bit with my breaking down a killer hill, but what a team – no-one ever said a thing, our coach, Karla, stayed with me every turn, pushing me a bit faster, and just making me feel that touch bit more confident and safer. The route was beautiful, team spirit high, no complaints, lots of laughs, amazing – what are these people talking about – DC is GREAT!

Last stop – quick refuel and now I can feel serious fatigue setting in. I hear Gilly say, it’s now time to dig deep, keep your head strong and let’s get this done. And nothing could have preppared me for what was to come.

Hill 1, OK. I’m hurting. I’m tired. I’m feeling quite emotional but I won’t drop my team. (If I was on my own, I would have quit right there). Hill 2, it’s getting worse for me. My team mates are all strong. Still no complaints, just smiles, motivation and more laughs. Hill 3, OK, I heard there were only 3 so I can do this. Hill 4 at 90km. NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I scream to be put in the middle of the pack – now my every fear of wheels touching and crashing is gone, just put me in the middle. Downhills, screw my breaks, I just wants this done! I ask Pitbull for a bit of a push as I’m now 99,9999% finished. As he gets me to the front, I cheekily ask Jacques for one more stoot. Hill number, I’ve lost count, lost my sense of humour and I can feel tears streaming down my cheeks, but I’m just looking down and focusing on how amazing every single person in my team is. They are strong, they are supportive, they are positive, they are encouraging – They are truly amazing!

And yes, one last hill to the finish line. I think Linkie can see my pain and waits for me up this hill. I get to the top and all I can think of is how I will NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER do this again!

At not a single stage of the 8 and a few hours was there ever tension. Never a negative or bad word murmured. Just support, love and laughter. All 12 finished with a smile. To see our support team waiting with beers, milk and hugs, they felt like family, hell, they are family.

Sunday I was selling my bike. Today (Monday) I’m ready for a stronger race strategy, better eating plan and game plan on how we going to win that Spirit award next year! Proud to be a KIKSTARTer . Much love, Sam

Article by Samantha Leigh Harper