Every South African knows that 9 March 2014 was Argus Cycle Tour race day, and as I lined up for Omloop van Hageland – Tielt-Winge, in Belgium, on the same day, I couldn’t help but think of the 35,000 riders lining up in Cape Town to do the same thing I was: race my bike. Sport brings about a spirit of camaraderie and togetherness, but what a crash and a broken bike taught me was that the camaraderie shouldn’t just be in success, it should also be in the struggle.
We were 50kms into the 126km race and the nerves of the peloton hadn’t settled. There was yelling and brakes squealing almost every corner and the bad concrete slab roads didn’t help either. As I was preparing myself for the race to heat up on the cobbled section ahead, a rider in front of me managed to get her bike stuck in a road gap and I just had no where to go but down.
I hopped back up with all my skin intact but my derailleur was a different story. Lodged in my back wheel, I had no rear derailleur and therefore no bike. Once the team car had dished me out one of our spares, I quickly realized the set up wasn’t right. After two adjustments, I realized I was actually just racing against my bike and unfortunately had to abandon the race.
Later as I digested my DNF, I thought about how my story was probably similar to a lot of Argus riders back home. Actually, to most riders almost everywhere! We all feel connected sharing the love for our sport and the happiness it can bring, but we should also feel a sense of camaraderie during times of struggle!
For all those riders, especially the women, who crashed, had mechanicals, set up issues, route problems, and DNF’d, know that you’re not alone. No matter what struggle comes your way, there is camaraderie to be found in failure, as much as in success; and by far the strongest, is sticking together when the road gets tough. Or in my case, when the rider in front of you gets stuck in it.
Let’s stick together!