My Road to London #3

With just 10 days to go to the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, here is a continuation of my Road to London series. If you missed my previous edition you can read it here.

Learning to love the pain


It was not long before I built up some decent fitness and discovered my love for endurance sports. First I dabbled in triathlon and duathlon, but being a very average swimmer and after struggling with running induced injuries, I decided to focus on cycling, a decision I will never regret!

It was in 2008 that I decided to train more seriously on the bike and I started to take part in some of the local league races in our area. As eager and determined as I was to perform on the bike, I had a big lesson to learn!

Carl made it his mission to develop my cycling talent. He trained with me every day, pushing me on the bike. He believed I had a talent, but I was yet to prove it in a race.

I remember my first races. I would hit the climbs, determined to reach the top first, but somehow I would fall off the pace before reaching the summit. I found myself finishing the races frustrated and disappointed.

On finishing, Carl would ask me what had happened? My response was always, “I tried my best, but I couldn’t stay with them!” Carl’s response was at first harsh. He told me that I didn’t try hard enough; he said I didn’t know how to push myself through the pain barrier.

I found this really hard to believe. We had many an argument initially. I was convinced I was going my hardest and was almost happy to settle for not being good enough!

Carl was definitely not happy to settle for second best and determined to see me reach my full potential; he continued to work on me mentally, encouraging me to keep pushing my limits.


It was during a local race in Stellenbosch, going up the famous Helshoogte pass that I reached the turning point. The point where it all made sense. The point where the mind takes over and the body is forced to listen.

When the body says no and the mind says go; that is what it means to push through the pain barrier! A (second) switch flipped in my head, it was on this day that I learnt what it was like to love the pain!

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