With the rugged trails of the Drakensberg beckoning these holidays, I didn’t have to think twice about packing the bike for the trip. Even with the daily rainfall averaging more than an entire Cape winter, we were still out on our bikes every day exploring the countless trails in the area.
On the one day the sun did make a blazing appearance we decided to take on a well marked trail along the river. “Follow the dark blue arrows” the guy at the permit office told us. We set off, three of us, all at our own pace, eager for the adventure that a new trail brings. We soon split up and whether it was the distracting stunning scenery, a dodgy route marker or my hopeless sense of direction, I soon realised I was properly lost. I was still following a route marker so I knew I would get home eventually, it just happened to be a light green one and not the dark blue one I was supposed to be following.
I meandered along the river, cheered on the paddlers competing in a canoe race, negotiated the numerous bridges and stopped every now and then to take in the magnificent ‘Berg scenery. Read: catch my breath. Pretty soon I had clocked up 15km and “home” was nowhere in sight. This was meant to be a quick pedal before breakfast while grandma was babysitting. I upped the pace a bit, stressing that everyone would be waiting impatiently and getting more and more annoyed with the flies buzzing around my head and the sun beating down on my sunscreen-less shoulders (don’t hold it against me, it was meant to only be a quick pre-breakfast ride remember). Soon my heart rate was at its max and I was heaving like a woman possessed. I was pounding on the pedals and tearing up hills I would usually have pushed up. Not before long every hill became a mountain, and every bridge a wretched obstacle that I had to dismount at because my brain had turned to mush. After what felt like an eon, and my sense of humour long gone, one of my riding buddies came up behind me (clearly I wasn’t flying as fast as I thought I was). He had also taken a different route and, like me, ended up riding significantly longer than planned. He told me to stop stressing and just enjoy riding through this amazing part of the world. So I did. I eased up on the pedals, my heart rate came down to settle in the hundreds and I focused on the enjoyment on the ride. Suddenly the path ahead seemed friendly again, the annoying flies stopped buzzing and I was grateful for the sun that had finally made an appearance. It’s amazing what a change of mindset can do. I ended up doing 30km (we had set off to do 12km), burnt countless calories, had a killer workout and rode through some magnificent countryside, which I otherwise would have missed. Turns out the third member of our party got lost too! Don’t ever take any of us orienteering with you. And the best part of this (mis)adventure? Baby was still fast asleep when I got home.
We rewarded ourselves that afternoon with a tube ride down the icy river. Great for recovery!
Moral of the story. Don’t get too stuck in routines, training plans and rigid schedules. They definitely have their place but sometimes it’s good to “get lost for a while” and enjoy riding for riding’s sake.