"I’m back in my office having just finished my 6th Race to Rhodes. To be honest while my body is in Johannesburg my mind is still out on the trail.
Going into the event I wanted to finish inside of 48 hours. By the time I was 32 hours in I realised that I wasn’t going to realise that goal. From then on I took my foot off the gas and took my time. Instead of solely focusing on moving forward I had time to interact with people I came across. Toward the end took a one hour time-out to enjoy a coffee and toasted sandwich at a lodge at the top of the mountain before riding down to the finish—something I haven’t allowed myself to do previously when racing hard. I certainly felt the freshest I ever have at the finish line and although I hadn’t met my goal I rolled over the finish line with a deep sense of satisfaction and appreciation of what I had seen and done over the preceding days.
I’ve traversed this part of the Freedom Trail 16 times since 2007 so there are few new wow moments now that eclipse my experience of my first time in 2007. However, being familiar with the route I am able to focus on the smaller detail that underpins just how special this race and route are. Each time I travel through I am struck not only by the obviously poverty but also by the richness of spirit these communities share.
There is always a wave and a smile as you pass and whenever you stop they ask where you’ve come from and where you are going. The underlying truth is that although we might have started our race in Pietermaritzburg or that we live in a city far afield we come from a world far removed from their day to day reality. It’s impossible not to be touched by their challenges as we pedal our bikes through the places they call home.
When I rode my first Freedom race in 2007 it transformed me as a cyclist and a person. In the intervening years I am drawn back to these races because as you ride layers of yourself are peeled back as you discover more about yourself and this country of ours."