There's more to a race than just a win

In the spirit of celebrating the adventures of MiWayans, we asked MiWay’s Head of Legal and Dispute Resolution (aka our Company Secretary), Heleen Honeyborne, to share her latest adventure at the Storms River Traverse with us - together with the lessons she took from that journey.

What was I thinking when I forwarded my husband a mail from the organisers of the Storms River Traverse mountain bike race at the beginning of the year – asking “when will we do this again?” I should have known that posing a question like that to him who spins every morning for an hour, would have resulted in us being registered almost immediately… no discussion held.

There were still easily 6 months left to get back on the saddle and train for the mountain bike stage race in August. Before I knew it, time had flown by… with only two weekends left before we were to fly down for the race, it hit me that I should probably wash my bike, get it serviced and to see whether I am actually still able to stay on it! The Saturday morning of that first weekend, I managed to cycle 10km within our estate. I did that route again that same afternoon, and again the next day.

The next weekend – my last chance to practice for the race – we went camping with the kids, which meant that I relinquished another opportunity to get in what was probably 20km of training in total.

When I realised that my total practice distance was not even the least bit close to what we were bound to ride on our first day of the Storms River Traverse, I thought “I should probably just give up and not go” - but quitting is not in my nature!

And off we went. I knew that thinking about training and spending about 4 hours in total on a training bike was not the real deal; therefore it was my mental strength that would have to see me through.

So how do you take on a task that you did not prepare for, and cannot step away from or quit?

  • Just jump into it! Don’t spend too much time thinking about it, as that will just scare you. There’ll always be excuses why not to do it – rather think of reasons to do it!
  • You know that you can easily do 10km, so focus on the positives. Don’t see it as circa 65km for day one, circa 45km for day two and circa 50km for the last day – break it down into six 10km, four 10 km and five 10 km chunks. Eat the elephant one piece at a time!
  • You know your weak points… your body will take a beating, so leave stuff for the experts to do. Things like booking your bike in for a wash and service after each day so that you don’t have to strain your body doing that; and rather spend that time getting a massage - seeing that you are going to have to rely on muscle memory… (and a lot will be asked of that memory).
  • You know you’re probably going to be one of the last people to finish, considering the type of bikes and bodies you are up against, so don’t do it for the win… Do it for the small things. Do the race to finish it - and enjoy meeting personalities along the way.  You are not riding up a pass, you are winding through majestic landscapes, beautiful forest areas, smelling nature. So don’t go too fast, let every moment sink in. Every challenge has a break/pit stop so get well rested and fuelled at the water points – a lot of hard work and effort went in to preparing it. Taste the handmade koeksisters and chat to Dirk, your personal butler who serves you all those delicious treats.
  • Things will get muddy and you will get tired… this is a given, especially if you did not get enough training. You probably (like me) will fall off your bike - especially if you have not had the technical training. Luckily, my landings were soft (and muddy)! Not forgetting to insure your bike will give you peace of mind should the landing be less forgiving. But when you cross that finish line three days in a row and you can proudly say – “I did it!” - you feel on top of the world and strong.

And so I say to the next challenge… Bring it on!

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