First, this happened on 12 October:
I cried when I crossed the finish line, but out of sheer joy. I started out with this massive 106km journey ahead of me, with mental images of the terrifying hills ahead, and wondering if I was actually going to make it. Or whether I had completely lost the plot.
But. I finished the TsogoSun Amashova Classic. I stopped to rest, to drink (and to eat Bar Ones, obvs), but I didn't once get off to push. I cycled for every one of those 106km, and it felt completely amazing. The route was beautiful, and there were a few completely surreal moments, like zooming onto the highway at Hillcrest, and literally being the only person around. Imagine that - having a whole three-lane highway to yourself and your bicycle? That didn't last for long - I soon saw other cyclists, but it was an amazing moment.
There was also the moment along the route where you come around a bend after climbing and climbing and climbing and climbing (did I mention there was some climbing?), and seeing a glorious vista of green sugar cane fields, as far as the eye can see. Just magical.
It's also amazing how quiet a big group of cyclists fighting their way up a hill can be. Quiet, that is, apart from my beeping heart rate monitor, which I couldn't figure out how to stop beeping...
I was also proud of this ride because I did it by myself. Obviously, you say. You weren't on a tandem! But no - cyclists train together, and often ride in groups or packs (or I think the racing snakes call them 'buses'), and there's aerodynamic stuff that happens that helps you along when you're in a group. While my awesome training buddy checked up on me at the first few water points, he's a racing snake in the making, and headed off after the second stop. It was just me and Paul Oakenfold in my ears riding this race, and we rocked it.
I won't lie, being able to walk over to our most awesome hotel suite at the TsogoSun Suncoast Towers when the race was over was the final cherry on top of this awesome. The social media team hosted Brett and me for the weekend, and it was another reminder of why this hotel group completely understands its guests. Its sponsorship of the Tsogo Sun Amashova Classic and the Cape Town Cycle Tour - and the specialised care it gives to its cycling guests, make sure that I'll have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone taking part in those two races (and anyone who's looking for a great place to stay, even if they're not going to be cycling from A to B or in a very big circle...)
And then this happened on 16 November:
This was the BHAG, the monster on the hill that nobody knew what to expect - the Momentum 947 Cycle Challenge, on its new route.
It was a long day out there, but the atmosphere was amazing, with crowds cheering cyclists along the route. My mind was more prepared for this, because I figured that I'd already completed a longer route, and that we had trained on many of the hills that were included in the race.
I was particularly proud of making it up Jan Smuts Avenue in Randburg, because every time I drive that section of road I shake my head at it, and the uphill on Witkoppen near the Baron on Witkoppen nearly broke me. But wait... there was more...
The last three hills were brutal, and I was completely unprepared for the Steyn City section. I don't think anybody was, because the mood of the cyclists changed so much on that section. It may have been because there were no spectators cheering us on, but for me, it was the fact that I was anticipating one hill - not two (or was it three?) hills within the estate. And they went on and on and on. I say the mood changed, because I know mine went from exhilaration at being so close to the finish, to actually being angry that the very end was so very difficult. I think you can see my anger in the pic above.
But, I finished. And I will do it again. I will definitely do the Tsogo Sun Amashova Classic again - it's kinda like my first cycling love affair, and there's a sentimentality to that, that surprises me. And I've signed up to the Cape Town Cycle Tour.
So. I've achieved what I set out to do. It's a really great feeling, I won't lie. But now there's the challenge to keep up the fitness, to up the speed, to beat the records (if you can call them that), that I've set for myself. All spiced up with the challenge of finding the balance between my training and my family. I'm taking it a little slower at the moment, but the 5h15 spinning class at the gym is still my regular, although I suspect I'll have to kick things up a bit with cross training - most likely some more intense cardio, and some strength (core) training.
Good lord. Did I just say that?
Who would have thought?
The money stuff: Brett and I were guests of Tsogo Sun at the Suncoast Towers. We paid our own way to get there, and our own race fees.