Crash, boom, bang for JAM SA – by Laura Durham
Laura Durham writes about what it means to be a Red Rider and part of the team that rides for JAM SA in the cycle race that takes place every year in Johannesburg.
Those three words sum up my experience of being one of JAM SA’s Red Riders in last year’s Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge.
Bang – The sound of reality setting in when I realised I had just over two months to train for the race and I didn’t even own a bicycle. Not willing to spend thousands on a bike for this ‘once off’ event, I decided my options were to beg, borrow or steal. Luckily my friend, Meg, kindly lent me her road bike for my training and the race, thus removing my need to do anything illegal.
Crash – Literally, I crashed during the race! But before we get to that….the team coordinator, Sylvanna, had organised a meet and greet the week before, which allowed me to meet some of the other Red Riders and get our awesome red, white and black kits. Note to self for next time: Do not ask other people how much they have trained because you will feel totally inadequate and unprepared when you’ve only done three long rides with the most being 65km!
On race day, she was sitting under a JAM SA gazebo for the whole day with coffee, bananas, breakfast bars, Powerade and lots of encouraging words! At this stage I was queasy – and that had nothing to do with the unbelievably tight and unflattering cycling shorts I was wearing! Anyway, we set off and I have to say, I really enjoyed myself. It was a novelty to be cycling on the highway and the cheering from the onlookers made me feel like a celebrity.
But then I crashed. Into a guard rail. I was going too fast down a hill and realised that I was not going to make the corner at the bottom. By the time I collided with the rail, I was probably going pretty slowly but there I was hanging over the rail thinking the race – and my life – was over. But I’m really really stubborn and hate to disappoint myself! So I got up, two very kind onlookers helped to straighten out my handle bars and I started up the hill.
Boom – I finished the race! I came in at about 5.20 hours and I was STOKED! I had created a little bet with my extended family that whoever guessed the time closest to my actual would win an awesome prize. Considering my own brother guessed it at 5.59 (the cut off is 6 hours!), I was VERY excited to be able to brag about 5.20!
Doing the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge was not just about proving to myself that I could do it (I am very athletically challenged in general!) but it was about something far greater.
Part of my responsibility as a Red Rider was to try and raise at least R1 000 for JAM SA’s Nutritional Feeding programme, which feeds vulnerable children in informal settlements across the country. I received overwhelming support from my friends and family (even my brother donated R94.70!) and I managed to raise nearly R3 000, which will feed seven of JAM SA’s beneficiaries for a year! Wow!
So, was the crash, boom, bang worth it? Absolutely! So I’ve signed up to do it all over again in 2014!
Laura Durham, Red Rider
If you’d like to join the Red Riders for the 2014 Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge, please email Sylvanna.Cheketri@jamint.com