Pick the Perfect Partner.
Ok, so it is an individual race and had I entered on my own (no way I would have had the courage), perhaps the dynamics of who we rode with would have been different.
But I struck lucky with the perfect race companion. We had gone to great lengths to reassure each other that if bad luck struck one of us, the other would have to ride on. There were times when I told Doug that he had to start considering these options seriously as I doubted I would be able to finish.
Fortunately, he hung on and things got better and we rode to the end together.
What made it work in my opinion, was that neither of us engaged with the other on an emotional level. I had my stuff and my way of dealing with my issues and so it was with him. We were there for each other but in presence only. Neither of us had the expectation of the other assisting, although we did when we could.
Doug was calm and even. I only saw him toss his bike once and even that was low key. He did what he had to do and reminded me of things I forgot. His technical skills were invaluable as he changed my brake pads for me and I was constantly reminded of the basics of lubing, checking tire pressure etc because he did it.
He was also the odo man. He kept track of the mileage on the race narrative. The only time I had to do it, I failed miserably as I couldn't remember the starting numbers, and how to add the kms on.
We were completely in tune about stopping to eat, the frequency of eating and by the end, we were also completely in tune with needing to get off the bikes to walk. I would be aiming for one more corner, get off and hear the sound of him uncleating simultaneously. You have no idea how much this reduces pressure when you know the other person has the same tolerance levels as you.
There were times when Doug had to wait for me, and was shivering by the time I got there. Then there where times where I pushed it and helped him trash his knees!
I was also the fashion police instructing him on the correct position of his helmet visor - like he cared.
We didn't chat much. We just rode. We discussed narrative and route and then we rode some more. There were times when we didn't ride together at all and both of us enjoyed the space. We also both enjoyed having our own rooms at night as it gave us space and privacy after a 13 hour day together.
Our private innermost thoughts and anxieties were shared with our loved ones. We saved personal interaction for getting each day done.
We were both glad that it was just the two of us finishing together at Diemersfontein - finishing what we had started, not 21 days before but more than 5 months before.
Yeah Doug - you were the best!