Day 13: On Rain and the Nature of Luck

26 March

Rest day. Ascent so far: 1692m Distance so far: 925km

The gloomy weather of yesterday continued through the night and it is very overcast when we wake up. As we portage to the endpoint of yesterday’s ride, the rain starts falling and becomes heavier. Visibility on the road is very poor and the conditions are too dangerous to cycle in. We carry on to Frankfort and take refuge in a coffee shop and wait for it to blow over. It doesn’t. Torrents of water gush down the road. I would not have been surprised if someone came past in a kayak. We therefore make the decision to take a rest day, a few of which have been built into the rather tight schedule.

As nothing eventful happened today in terms of the actual tour (although we did manage to get laundry done at our stopover for the night. Clean undies! Hooray! Unless you have done a trip of this nature, you won’t understand the joy of clean, dry clothes), this blog post will be slightly different.

A few people said to me before the trip, “Wow, you are so lucky to be able to do this kind of trip.” A few more have said, “You’re crazy to be doing this kind of trip” but that is a musing for a different day. It caused me to consider the meaning of luck. I don’t consider myself a lucky person. I have never won a raffle or even R20 on the Lotto. I do believe I am privileged to be doing a trip of this nature but not lucky. Colin is not lucky to be able to do this trip at the age of 62; it is a result of his life-long dedication to a healthy lifestyle and the hard work that enabled his early retirement. I am not lucky to be doing this trip at 31; I have been dedicated to my career to allow me to take a 6 week leave of absence. The situation leading to the postponement of our trip was certainly not lucky and it was not luck that got my parents through – it was years of physical and mental endurance training, and a team of excellent medical staff at Milpark Hospital.

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Some might say that I am lucky to be working for a company that supports such endeavours. It wasn’t luck that I chose to work for ER Consulting, nor was it luck that made me stay long-term when it had not been my original intention. I was still sceptical when I made the request for the 6 weeks off but I think that my dedication helped the positive decision. Give, ask, receive.

It is true that not everybody’s employers would be supportive. It is also easy to assume that they will just say no and not bother asking. People can make endless excuses as to why they can’t do a trip like this. Work, children, the house, the pets. You can either be constrained by these limitations or work around them (granted, kids are tricky but what is stopping you after they are independent?).  I think there are very few people who have done any epic challenge with 100% personal and financial security. Most plan and then just leave the house, sometimes without a handkerchief.

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I don’t believe I am lucky; I believe I am a result of my choices and I have made sacrifices to get here. It all starts with an idea and then the determination to follow through, not random chance. Choose your fortune.

That said, it is the 13th day of our trip and it is still raining heavily.

 

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