The Sabie Experience four day mountain bike stage race starts on Sunday. Why is this of interest to you or me? Well, there is a group of dedicated people making sure that it lives up to its reputation of being a tough, challenging event and I am the ringleader.
No wait, the tough and challenging bit belongs to my race director, Dennis. He is the one who must take the complaints from the riders when they struggle up the next big mountain and the next. When the climbs are nicknamed "Ugly Words, Jelly Legs and Bad Language" then you know that it is brutal and they are cursing him with the little breath they have left.
Moi, I am in charge of all the nice stuff. I get to receive all the compliments. I swan around the route in my VW Caddie with the aircon on, and cheering the riders onward and upward. I am the cheery face of the mountain bike race who commiserates when they suffer and promise downhills to the finish. I am the good guy who pretends to suffer with them, bleed with them and grimace through muddy or dusty faces.
All the while, behind the inane grin on my face is the little voice saying, "I am so glad this isn't me!" Don't get me wrong, I have ridden the routes so I know all about the sufferfest but that was under far more relaxed circumstances. I did not have partners ranting at my being too fast or too slow. I had the luxury of stopping frequently ostensibly waiting to show the riders behind the route.
But I do know what its like to stay in the saddle when the legs are begging for respite and the sweat is stinging the eyes. And I do feel the rider's pain when there is yet another uphill. But I live the swooping downhills and single track with them and congratulate them as they cross the finish line pumped with the achievement that comes with suffering.
So to all you riders making the pilgrimage to Sabie for some of the best mountain biking in the country, I'll be there for you but I won't envy you.