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Taking stock: Life happens, coffee helps

It’s been a month since we arrived in Cape Town. Let’s recap…

Just over three months ago I chatted with Tam and decided to enter a triathlon here in the Cape. (Look, it seemed like a good idea at the time, ok?)

Twelve weeks of training, diet adjustments, endless cups of coffee and tubes of Vaseline later – JUST as we arrived on the precipice of the big event –

it was cancelled.

Everything that we’d worked, slaved and spent for. The early mornings. The flights. The equipment. The gear. The apparel. The groceries. All of that, only to get to this stage in the game and the whole thing has been canned. What a waste… right?

Wrong, is the short answer.

It started with a Google search… “bikes for sale”. On the first page was a bike specifically meant for triathlon, and at a low price. Score! Two days later my daughter was laughing at me trying to balance and use the aero handlebars. “If nothing else, at least I make my kids laugh,” I thought. Plus, cycling generally ends off with a visit to a coffee shop. I mean, that’s just what you do as a cyclist, right?

Next it was trying to find somewhere to swim. Pools are few and far between, but just up the road from us was a massive playground called Midmar Dam. We got ourselves an access card and built in a morning routine: wake up, drive 15 minutes up the road, and play. I could go for an open water swim (how many people get to train like that midweek??) and the kids could splash around in the waves and Tam could get her walks in. Then coffee shop on the way home. Everything for the win.

First open water swim at sunrise, Glencairn.

We got into a rhythm. I got fit. And we started adventuring.

On arrival in Cape Town, I chatted with my brother about taking me to the beach for a swim and then a coffee. The next day, he posted a pic on Instagram.

“Beautiful morning out at Glencairn supporting my brother @theryancalder as he builds on his triathlon training with an open water swim in perfect conditions”

A few minutes later, our friend Graeme commented on it, saying: “Tell @theryancalder to shout if he wants a riding partner one morning this week”.

(From left) Me, Jon, Gavin and Graeme.

Within 48 hours we’d completed a 30km training ride and Graeme had lined up the next four weeks of routes through a WhatsApp group named “Get Jon Back On The Bike”.

If you haven’t met Graeme yet, you should clear your diary and make a plan – wherever you are in the world. He’s a gift to humanity.

(From left) Me, King & Jon.

Before Jon or I could utter “Flat White”, we’d finished 54km coastal outing with my cousin Kingsley as well, who had us both in stitches recounting his first triathlon over another cup of coffee at Bootleggers.

“King” – as we affectionately call him – is probably the most unassuming person you’ll ever meet, but he’s sublime company and generally full of mischief. I’m surprised we made it back home alive, now that I think about it.

The rides here in the Cape are just so fantastic. Besides the beautiful scenery, many roads have dedicated cycle lanes and are sans-potholes. I sound like a stuffed record about this with the locals. They really have no idea how big a deal this is after cycling in KwaZulu-Natal, which is a hole other story. (Pun intended, that’s not a typo.)

Besides cycling, I have loved the journey into open water swimming again. Because the kids generally nag us for trips to the dam or the beach, I’ve remained quite consistent in training, with regular outings to the dam (or beach since we got to Cape Town)… so much so that I entered a 5km open water swim in Hermanus.

Turns out it’s the WORLD’S premier whale watching destination. When I explained ocean open water swim race to those who asked me, most people just think sharks – not whales.

For me, it was more about trying to complete Park Run distance, but in the water. There’s a lot more to worry about than sharks, I can assure you.

Anyway, I entered. And to my amazement and complete delight my entire family – parents and brother as well – all came with for the 100km drive to the seaside village.

And I finished. Alive. Who would have thought?

And then we drove 100km back home.

Sounds crazy when you think about it. But there are worse places I could be, and dumber things I could be doing.

Dealing with disappointment is part of the whole thing. I am sad that I won’t get to race to Stanford, or complete an Ironman in the next few months. But there have been some moments and experiences locked away in my heart forever over these past months, and I regret nothing. The inspiration for new lyrics and new songs is plentiful, as I enter the next season of artistic endeavours.

There’s a coffee shop up the road from my folks’ AirBNB in Cape Town, called the Frisky Goat. A spot worthy of its own blog post. On the wall is a picture frame, which reads:

“Life happens
Coffee helps.”

So on we go. Swim. Cycle. Run.

Then grab another cuppa.

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1 thought on “Taking stock: Life happens, coffee helps

  1. Dear Ryan,
    So glad we’ve been able to share this memorable time with you, Tammy and the children.
    It certainly has been a special time for dad and me.

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