After swearing I would never get on a bike, nor become one of those “prawns” as they were termed sipping coffee outside the vida e caffè in Camps Bay, the allure of the 202km Coronation Double Century enticed me after 2 months of triathlon training, where a bike was, well, a prerequisite.
After following via Facebook the training rides of friends and colleagues who were beginning to train for the Double Century and in particular a clients wife, I asked him to put me in touch with her to ask about being a reserve on their team should anyone pull out or get injured. Never did I think I would officially be part of the team. Nor did I realize what sort of people I would meet and that these people would soon become my inner circle of friends.
I didn’t know what I was in for when I attended my first 100km training ride with a group of women whom I had never met before. Fearsome and completely unprepared in terms of training, nutrition, lack of winter gear and experience, I found myself pleasantly surprised at how nice, and super crazy all the girls in this team were, and how on this particular day I ended up at the top of Helshoogte at the same time as the entire team. There I thought I had entered a racing snakes team, but actually a social team of girl friends looking for a bit of a challenge, but more importantly, to spend time together.
The weeks progressed and I officially became a team rider after a few girls stepped down. Not only did we get stronger but we got to know each other extremely well. From sharing deep dark secrets, relationship woes, suburbian gossip, watching tears of joy and tears of pain, arguments, some bitching and moaning, we went through it all. Nothing brings anyone closer than a bunch of girls sitting for hours and hours on a bike week in and week out, with one goal in mind – to finish the Coronation Double Century with all 12 riders, awarding ourselves the 2 finishers medals.
After hearing a bunch of rumours of how people didn’t think our all-girls team would finish, we were even more determined than ever to prove them wrong, and we did. (Only 5 all girl teams entered this year (2014) if I am not mistaken.)
RACE DAY arrived and we were prepared and ready. An awesome team of friends, a fully stocked support vehicle, sponsored kit by Col’cacchio Pizzeria – we were ready to go. Our goal was to start together and finish together. After a few hiccups and bouts of drama, we pulled ourselves together and we finished in 9:30hrs. I suppose yes we could’ve finished about 40min earlier but we chose to support each other and stick together as a team until the end, which to me is the essence of this event. As frustrating as it was at times, we look back now, smile and laugh about it, with every member bearing the butt of some joke.
Some people might still make fun of our team for the length of time it took us to complete this race, but I guarantee you none of them had an absolute ball like we did. In fact, I feel sorry for the guys who rocked up on race day to ride with a team they hardly knew. Ours was a fun adventure from start to finish.
Post event offered a bit of an anti climax: Now What? But our Whatsapp group remained active with braais, get ‘togethers’ and training rides for a year thereafter, until the decision needed to be made if we were going to enter again for the 2015 event – of course, the answer was yes and there we were together again plotting and planning how we could be better second time round.
The event is so popular that it normally sells out in a ridiculously short time. The first year sold out in 13 minutes, but thanks to our team co-ordinators Lindsay and Cindy sitting glued to their computer screens ready to click enter and pay, we managed to get entries for both years.
What I think about all the time and what I am grateful for, is how these girls became my friends, my family and a group so close to my heart, that I would do anything for them. I did not realize when I embarked on this cycling journey the true genuine friends I would make. Friends of all ages, at all stages of life; married, unmarried, kids, no kids, stay at home moms, hard working lawyers, events managers, business analysts – no matter the age gap between us all, (which ranges from 28 – 50) these girls are some of the most remarkable women I have ever met. Women who don’t care about your past, your future, your place in society, genuine women who like you for you, and for the value you add to their lives. They build you up as opposed to bringing you down, and that is the best gift that any women can give eachother. We might not see each other as often as we used, to, but when we do its as if we were never apart.
Over the past 2 years, I have sport and cycling to thank for the many friends I have made. The type of ones that will be there till the end. Sport in general and especially the Double Century truly does open your world to a variety of networks, relationships and friendships, and will always have a special place in my heart. So much so that as a sucker for punishment I have entered again with an awesome team of mates from ATC (Atlantic Tri Club). ATC Multisport is the largest and most well established triathlon and multisport club in South Africa.
Find out more about the Coronation Double Century on: www.coronationdc.co.za