Lekker Okes


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Cycling takes a huge amount of dedication, training and stamina.   But it also takes a huge amount of commitment from the supporting team of a cycling teen (read parents).  Actually this is also true for any sport that your kid is mal over.

This Saturday the alarm went off at 3.00 am, and I groggily got out of my warm, soft, snuggly bed.  Frans as normal was snoring lightly and contentedly in our warm, soft, snugly bed.

I go and wake up Jamie.

“Are you joking”  the first words rip out of his mouth.

Ummmmm DO I LOOK LIKE THE TYPE OF PERSON THAT MAKES JOKES AT 3.00 AM IN THE MORNING!!!

“No sweetie, you have got to get up for the Addo Cycle race”.  Voops!  He is out of bed in a shot and jumping into his monkey suit and shirt.  He efficiently packs his bag, gets himself breakfast, showers, brushes his teeth and hair and tidies his romm.  Each one of these actions a miracle in themselves because not once do I have to tell him to do anything.

He gets into the car on time – I am gobsmacked, it is 3.15 am and I haven’t raised my voice once.

Off we go to meet the rest of his mad friends at the Links Circle.

When we get there a bakkie pulls up and we get out the car.

“You look good for this time of the morning”  says a voice.

It is Grant, he is always nice, always chirpy and me thinks is long overdue for an eye test.

Anyway, off they go, four dedicated cyclists off to a 6.30 am start in Addo, 2 hours away.

My day goes as my day goes and at about 1 I get a call that they have just left PE.  The car sounds like there is a PARTY of NOTE going on.

“Whats cooking in the car Jamie?”

“Oh, the guys are just chatting “

I WANT SOME OF WHATEVER THEY ARE ON!!!

At 2-ish I get the call to fetch him at Grant.

“How did you do?”

“I did it in 2 hours fifty something ish minutes” he replies with a big grin on his face.  He is filthy, he smells odd and he has a very peculiar tan.

“But where did you come ….. 10th, 20th ….”

“I dunno”

Now this got me thinking.  Jamie has done 3 Addo races.   Each time he has come home happy, filthy, smelly and with a peculiar tan.  To date we have NEVER known where he has come in the race.  We have never even looked at the race results.  Did it ever make him feel different about going out there and putting his heart into a race – NOPE.  What did nark him was missing the lucky draw prizes when his name was pulled and he wasn’t there – but that is tough and that is life.

Anyway, all of a sudden over the last year it seems to have become very important WHERE one of us came in a race.  Horseriding means if you come first you get a sash and a rosette.  Sailing means you get ………. um …………. I am not quite sure what you get because there is always some kind of groovy handicap system and it just confuses me.  At cycling you get to stand on a podium for a milli-second get a medal and your photo taken and that is it.  Me, I am easy, I am consistently last in every race I do – I am happy last and there are always new, interesting and fun people at the back of races.

Add to this pressure, Jamie has recently secured a cycling sponsorship from Merida Bikes and Custom Bikes, and, although there is no pressure for him to get podium finishes, he almost feels he should do well to do well by his sponsors.

Pressure, Pressure, Pressure.

Now again this got me thinking.  Yes we look in admiration at the athletes on the podium, but, hey there are only 3 of them.  Of the 1 050 starters of this race only 3 get to stand on the podium.  But ……… 1 020 other okes are also in need of recognition for just starting the race.  Yes we remember the people on the podium, but the ones we really remember are the ones who threw us a bomb when we had a flat,  who pulled us out the bush when we had a bad fall and the ones we had a really good laugh with on the journey.    We remember the guy who came second who goes to the person who came first and shakes their hand.  Unfortunately we also remember the guys who sulk when they don’t win and blame their bikes for bad performance.

At the moment cycling doesn’t have many mentors.  I think sponsors should start looking at those “lekker okes” on the bikes to market their products.  The ones that make the races fun and making other riders want to go back for more.  The ones hakking it out with the masses and loving the sport for the sake of the sport and not for the medals.

As with anything life is a journey, and if we are constantly trying to be at the front it will get lonely.  Being in the masses means you will not miss out, but if it means that through hard work and dedication the front is the place for you, remember the guys behind you and remember to cheer them on, shake their hands and become a “lekker oke”.

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