Anyone who has read my last two “Desert Dash Diaries” (at least the non-cyclists) is probably wondering why the hell I would want to do the thing again!
Well, two reasons: One, I am really hoping that it is a case of ‘third time lucky’ and that if I do it again everything goes smoothly and I have the ride of my life, and two, the Nedbank Desert Dash is just one of those races – to paraphrase Billabong’s one-time ad campaign: “Only a Dasher knows the feeling!”.
The ultimate goal for many people is of course to complete a solo ride – the full, this year at least (we’ll see if they push past the 400km mark next year), 397km – as a test of not only your physical, but also mental endurance. The beauty of the Desert Dash though is that even if you never get to (or even have no desire to) complete a solo, the sense of achievement and joy you get from finishing even as part of a four-person team is almost indescribable. Sure, there are some people who will poo-poo you for not having done the whole thing, but they are in the minority (and should probably spend a little time with a therapist exploring a couple of things…), and to most people having done the Desert Dash is an achievement they respect – a mark that you have accomplished something special.
This goes for you personally too, you don’t have to have struggled through the type of Dashes that I did (and I’m certainly not trying to claim that my struggles were the worst there’ve been) to feel a sense of accomplishment. There is not a single Desert Dash finisher who I have spoken to who doesn’t feel a massive wave of pride as they cross that finish line – and no, it’s not just a disguised sense of relief that it’s over, though there is probably a bit of that too. Even looking back at your experience however many years later can bring that feeling of joy back to you.
Without wanting to get too philosophical, perhaps that’s why we do things like the Desert Dash, or countless other endurance or extreme sports events, in the first place. Perhaps it gives us a sense of meaning, of achievement – the idea that we’ve done something big and worth bragging about in a world in which we increasingly feel small and insignificant.
Yikes, Sorry! That kinda got away from me for a bit there. The point is though that, while it is not an achievement that everyone will, or needs to, seek out, having done a Desert Dash in whatever format, even the e-bike category or, newly introduced for 2023, half-Dash, is an achievement you can, and should, be proud of.
As I’ve said before, I’m not riding the Nedbank Desert Dash this year – truth be told, I’m not actually riding much at all at the moment – but, just as I have every year that I haven’t ridden, I’ll feel a strange sense of disappointment and sadness on Friday the 8th of December as I know that hundreds of people will be getting to ride a ride that, whether it proves easy or hard, will stay with them forever, a ride I’ll wish I was getting to experience myself, and I’ll have to console myself with the thought that “maybe next year, or the year after that, I’ll get to ride it again”.
So, to everyone doing the Nedbank Desert Dash 2023, I hope you have an amazing time, enjoy the highs, make it through the lows, smile, laugh, cry, make loads of memories, and keep the rubber-side down – see you at the finish line.
For more amazing stories from Desert Dash cyclists, visit our podcasts page HERE and check out the Nedbank Green Champions Series. David Bishop interviews veterans and newbies, delving deeper into their unique stories.
Written by: Christine Venter