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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Race Dinner

Last weekend was the final race dinner at Diemersfontien in Wellington. It was a gathering for all riders who could make it and a reunion for riders from previous years. The evening was filled with tales from the trail, shared over good food and wine.

Sharing the experiences I had during the race with the other riders and listening to their stories, I felt privileged to be amongst such a unique and varied group of people. All the riders agreed that it was taking a while to return to normal life after the race, sometimes it’s the crazy appetite that won’t quit or your sleeping patterns that are still out of sync – whatever the after effects, being able to chat to other people experiencing the same thing definitely helps and deepens the overall experience.

I was also pleasantly surprised to be awarded the ‘Stone Saddle’ – a floating trophy presented every year to one rider. In my case it was for completing it on a singlespeed and being the ‘Gentleman of the Trail.’ The trophy itself is really classic, a mounted piece of rock, shaped like a bike saddle, which was found by Johan Rissik near Prince Albert.

The Freedom Challenge is an experience that can be life changing because it's not just a bike race from A to B but a journey that mimics the journey of life itself. It requires a strong sense of adventure, trust in your own instincts and resourcefulness but also a good deal of humility and a dependence on the kindness and generosity of others to complete it. Those that take up the challenge are all so much richer for the experience.

Each time I look at my Finisher’s Blanket or wrap it around myself on a cold winter’s night, the memories and stories come flooding back and I’m back on the trail again. It will probably always be like this and I’m not complaining……

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