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I began to realise how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.

(Roald Dahl)

It has been a different experience dot-watching this year. I have ridden some of the trail, navigated my way through Race to Cradock, experienced the hospitality of the support stations, got a little bit lost, ridden in the dark, been drenched by cold rain and battled my way through sticky mud and slippery, rocky portages. I have seen some of the most remote and beautiful parts of the country, made new friends and met amazing people. I have volunteered to be a Buffalo Herder at a support station and never seen so many people so happy to see a pressure washer at 3am in the morning. I have only done a very small part of a very big thing. I am still very much a Freedom novice on the start line of a journey to earn my blanket.

I have been totally in awe of those novices that have chosen to do a full RASA, sight unseen. There were quite a few of these brave souls this year. Nienke, Andreas, and the Rutherfords who quietly flew under the radar and ticked off the day’s one by one.

I cried with Cindy on the finish line when she welcomed her husband Quinton home after having to withdraw so close to the end.

I have watched, listened, and learned from the multiple blanket wearers. The wisdom and wise words of Tim, Roger and Mike. Taken note of their words of advice and their knowledge of the trail.

I have had quite a few sleepless nights over the last month, worrying about those sleeping out in the wilderness in the cold and the rain. Woken up in the middle of the night wondering if Paul and Bruce have found the trail yet. So close and yet so far but true heroes regardless of the outcome.

To the ladies on the trail doing it on their own. Ingrid, Omphile, Rebecca and Janine. A culmination of a year’s long journey for some of them. You are all a true inspiration and all the encouragement we need to know that it can be done.

I watched them get lost, make mistakes, have good days and bad days. I can see the picture in my head of exactly where they are on parts of the trail. That bit where the dead cow was by the homestead coming up the hill. Long debates about riding in groups versus on your own, how far to ride, when to double up, when to take a rest day or a half day.

I have learned that this navigation thing is actually quite fun. It is not that scary. A map and a compass do not lie. It is like solving a great big exciting puzzle. That what looks like a good road on google earth is actually a rocky rutted overgrown track in reality. That it can take you 5 hours to do 10km’s but the reward when you find the way is priceless.

I have come to the realisation that I am, in fact, capable of doing a full RASA. That I am passionate about this ride. It will not be easy and I don’t know how long the journey will be to get there. In the meantime, I will continue asking you all a million questions and riding as much of the trail as I can.

See you all in October.

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