DC 2018 - what a race, and what a privilege to ride with the MTD team!
Things I learned from this year’s race (some serious, some ridiculous, and some written in the post-ride sugar-level crash, so just go with it...):
- There are two types of fun in the world: Type A fun and Type B fun. Type A? That’s when you know you’re having fun. The music is playing. The people are smiling. And you’re probably embarking on a journey to do DC in 8hrs+.Type B, though? Yoh. That’s only really fun when you look back on it later... When you realise that the matches you burned like a Guy Fawkes bonfire were absolutely worth it. That turning yourself inside out like a wet dishcloth to catch up to the group ahead is every part of a victory. That leaving bits of yourself splattered all over the Western Cape for the sake of keeping up with your team was the only way to do it. Finishing 16th out of the 60 mixed teams? That, my friends, is what we’ve come to know as fun, and dammit, it feels so good. Afterwards.
- Craig B’s wife makes the best banana bread - which was possibly the single-biggest driving motivation to get us to the first Team Feed Zone. It’s arguably better than Bootleggers, which is massively contentious in the cycling fraternity, but there are at least 12 MTD cyclists who will fight you on this using nothing but their gloved hands and a bag of radioactive unlaundered cycling kit. Trust us on this. 202km is worth it just for a couple of slices of that deliciousness.
- Taking the Red and White MTD colours seriously can be translated into skin patterns after a long day out. Forget the generously-sponsored matching team socks (Thanks TriShopSA!) - please refer to Paul and Ash’s legs for future reference of real team branding commitment, and as a reminder that sunscreen is our friend.
- While cyclists often have a bad reputation for being unfriendly, it must be noted that Bronwyn is single-handedly trying to change this for the positive by greeting everyother cyclist on the road and offering to assist entirely-male teams with their punctures. Extra points.
- Flying bugs do not belong in cycling jerseys or bib shorts. At all. Special mention to Gareth for creating a T3 changing zone and removing all upper garments on the side of the road in a frenzy with 10km to go. We’re not sure who was more panicked - him or the bug.
- Jan Frodeno is actually only 3 minutes faster than us. We’re just that good. Or, at least, that’s what RaceTec says, and who are we to argue with the numbers?!
- We can ignore morals and focus entirely on the strategic benefit of unashamedly borrowing a wheel from a man being medi-vac’d in order to be able to continue the race after one member of our team broke a spoke. (Disclaimer: No wheels were harmed in the making of this finish. The heroic tribute of a wheel was safely returned to its owner, within literal seconds of crossing the finish line, possibly even a few before)
- It’s quite easy to hide old PnP Stickeez on people’s bikes - and that these brightly coloured plastic rabbits, frogs, monsters, ducks, elephants, pigs, etc can stay a) attached and b) unnoticed for more than 100km #eyesontheroad
On a more serious note, I learned that
- You can’t train for DC in one go - physically or mentally. Get out of bed (sometimes if only driven by fear) and get on your bike. Somehow, magically, all of those training sessions slowly turn you into a cycling machine - capable of riding harder than you’ve ever done, for longer than what you previously believed was possible. Our coaches really do know what they’re doing - and a massive thank you for giving us what we needed to be ready for the race
- In training, ‘embracing the suck’ makes race day seem like a breeze (of which there thankfully wasn’t much). All the days that you ride into the wind, up those hills, through the heat, for all the hours? That’s better for your brain than it is for your legs. Embrace it.
- Everything is temporary. The burning muscles? Temporary. The mental battle? Temporary? Feeling like you just can’t anymore? Temporary. It’ll all pass, and you’ll make it out stronger. I learned to push through, hold on and dig deep - and that was just through my bags of nutrition :).
- Teamwork makes the dream work (even me, I judged myself for writing that. Askies. But it’s true). Honourable mention to Captain Craig and to the incredible support crew of Fred and Tanya. These champions kept us together, boosted morale, fed us, adjusted bikes, brought us flip flops, and made sure that the team was always good to go. The people we get to do this with make the experience worth it, and they’re the ones we’ll remember long after our legs have stopped being tired. MTD, you bunch of champions!
DC 2019, we’re coming for you, with our red socks, game faces (and more banana bread, please)