It was Woody Allen, when asked about his advice for young artist who said: eighty percent of success in life is showing up.
On the 14th of June, when the four of us, together with 46 other riders on a staggered start, show up for the start of Freedom Challenge 2023, we’re eighty percent there. We’ll be there because of our consistency of effort and drive to reach our own personal goals for whatever reasons. We’re not talented or young, but we all have grit and perseverance in common. The gap to do these things is getting smaller.
If this is a guide to inspiring those who have never done RASA either because it’s too hard or too far, or you just don’t feel you have the head for this kind of stuff, know that neither do we really. We’re not thinking about the hardshit (typo intended), we’re thinking about the privilege of riding freely across land that very few get to see or experience. None of us want to be that person that could-have but didn’t. And as Mike Roy so eloquently put it in his post …”the opportunity to feel truly alive, perhaps because in so doing one skirts not that far from the alternative”, is why we take this on amidst so many life challenges.
Where does one start? They say experience is a good thing, so our combined age of 230 years is surely a good start. Accumulative cycling years about 30 thereabouts, and that is with one complete novice. For the novice it has been a learning curve of note: step one, buy a bike; step two, buy a book on how to read a map (Be Expert with MAP & COMPASS , the complete orienteering handbook, by Bjön Kjellström); step 3, the tussle of cleats vs. flats (settle on flats); step 4, download Strava; step 5, do a MTB skills course, not to mention getting one’s head around cycling parlance. And so, the many steps to RASA began. Now, all those mystical places in high mountains, welcoming dogs, schools, people of the trail, will soon be a reality. It will be a privilege for us to ride alongside June as she takes on the Freedom Challenge as a complete novice.
Then there’s the rest of our group Sarah van Eeden (or Watermeyer, least the Hermanus boys get confused with the other Sarah in the field), a 2-blanklet holder and stone saddle award. Mandy Joyce, also a blanket wearer and stone saddle award, and friend from many years back. Training with Sarah, Mandy and June has got to be one of the highlights of reaching the 80% mark. We’re riding this together knowing full well there will be many things out of our control. Besides, why wouldn’t you want to take on a challenge like this with people who inspire you and where there is a deep mutual respect.
For our training we’ve made weekends of getting out of Johannesburg and exploring many unlikely parts of the country; the Free State, KZN battlefields, Magaliesburg and parts of Mpumalanga. By the end of RASA, we’ll have pretty much the whole country crossed. Bonus. Supplementing our training, we took extra advice and help on strength training, skills training, nutrition, and the odd YouTube ‘How to’. We learnt the importance of listening to our bodies and working with what we’ve got. You don’t have to throw money at this and you’re never too old to ask for advice.
This will be my second RASA and I always said that if I did it again I’d chose to do it with special people or a worthy cause. This year is a double bonus. June’s efforts will go towards funding registrar posts for young doctors. They need all the help they can get.