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The wonky neck

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

Written after the Race to Cradock (R2C) October 2020. A race done with Anthony.

It was big adventure. This year we rode with the least kit ever. No change of clothes, and only an extra pair of socks, a rain jacket and leggings. No toiletries or hairbrush. We didn't shower during the ride. As you can imagine I didn't look great, and I would have been so embarrassed if, by any chance, I bumped into Bradley Cooper or Ryan Reynolds. But then the odds of that happening in Hofmeyer or Rossouw were very low. And even if they begged me to leave with them in an air conditioned car with adult beverages I would have still refused. Because they certainly wouldn't have been able to fix a side wall cut on a tyre. The conditions this year were tough. I was not fully conditioned for the task at hand. Living close to the beach in Cape Town makes you soft. The sea breeze is great for tourism, but not great for coping with heat and altitude. What was hardest by far was dealing with a wonky and sore neck. Something called Shermer's neck. Apparently this condition does happen to professional endurance athletes so I feel quite privileged to join the team. Although I would prefer some of the other professional perks like low body fat and tight abs. Simply put, this is a condition where the neck muscles fail from fatigue, and can no longer support the head. It is not gradual either: after feeling the first symptoms, the neck will usually stop functioning within two hours, and you can't lift your head off your chin. This is okay if you are walking, or standing and admiring your new shoes, or pedicure, but not great when cycling as you need to look at least 3 m ahead. The cycle into Hofmeyer took forever as I was veering across the road. Initially I tried riding with my fist under my chin but this was a bit hard on rough terrain. And proved hard to brake, while stuffing wine gums into my mouth at the same time. My MacGyver hubbie came to my rescue. We first tried tying a water bottle vertically under my chin. As you can imagine this didn't work. He then tied a shoelace to my pony tail, and then tied this to the back of my sports bra. This plan sort of worked, but was painful. It did help to pull all my wrinkles away, so I will use this for the next wedding I attend. Eventually we found the best solution. We put a buff around my forehead and then Anthony tied the shoe lace very tightly to the back of the buff and then attached the shoe lace very tightly to the back of the bib shorts. (He used a Karoo thorn to make the hole in my bib shorts). All this MacGyver-ing was done in front of a random farmer who must have thought he was witnessing some sort of bondage scene from a low budget version of Shades of Grey. Especially as the end result was an immediate chin-up, wedgie and camel-toe. The last few hours of cycling into Cradock were awful. It was freezing and the shoelace was losing its tightness. What would normally be a 30 minute descent down a 30 km pass took 2 hours, as I could not see where I was going. We did eventually arrive, my camel-toe and all. A wonderful adventure, with some success, but certainly not as awesome as the new 'instant chin up- wedgie-camel-toe-shoelace-lift-hold and separate gadget' that Anthony has just patented.

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