What have you sacrificed to follow your passion?
Life has a way of moving so damn fast sometimes that we rarely take the time to sit back and think about everything that we’ve done. It’s just go go go in today’s society where it’s almost frowned upon to stop and just take is e-a-s-y and I for one am so very guilty of this myself. Already planning the next thing before you’ve even finished the present thing.
Recently I took the time to sit down and type up a resume. That was quite the feat - I haven’t made one of these for probably 10 years or so. In hindsight it was great, as it forced me to sit down and think about the past. To write down and remember what I’ve done for the past few years. As the details slowly started trickling back to me, one thing triggering the next, and before you knew it, I was on a roll, all the memories came flooding back and it reminded me of how much I loved racing my bike and how many things I sacrificed over the years to follow my passion. It made me giggle - A LOT as it reminded me of all the absolutely crap jobs I’ve had over the years, all for the love of traveling to race my bicycle. On a side note, it’s only the past 3 years of racing bikes out of almost 15, that I’ve been able to sort of make a living from it. Perseverance pays off ;)
To give you a bit of a background, I had a completely different life before bikes. Armed with two degrees (Fashion and Advertising) i was heavily immersed in those industries which i loved and was quite good at. I was living in Southern California - probably one of the most expensive places on the planet to live, at the time when I discovered (stumbled upon) mountain biking and it pretty much consumed my life. Wanting and needing more than the 10 annual days leave you get in the real work place I had to put my fashion and advertising career on hold to go race bikes around the world. This meant finding any job for the other six months.
The random jobs below are a few examples of what I put up with to save up as much as I could and fund the next seasons racing (or more realistically pay off last seasons credit card debt).
Working at an old aged home coffee shop was rather entertaining, serving the oldies caffeine instead of decaf they asked for - don’t get me wrong, I have a real soft spot for oldies, but man were they grumpy &
tight with the tips. I screen printed T-shirts & made deconstructed hoodies which I sold at local weekend markets, I worked in a library for $5 an hour, we lived on two minute noodles and tuna (we were slightly skinnier back then), and kept our fast food cups to keep refilling our soda’s for free. Buying a coffee wasn’t even a thing, it just wasn’t an option. Sven & I had to apply for travel visas back then being South African, which required to show your bank balance (a non existing feature) so my parents would transfer chunks of money into my account to make it seem like we had money, then once we got our visa’s, we’d have to transfer it back again. Fun and games to make things happen.
Of course I did my bike shop stint which was a huge help in getting parts at cost price and free wrenching and wheel builds on the bikes. They were awesome and encouraged and supported me at the races, needless to say I worked there for a few years. Thanks to the Bike Co for those good years!
Too many catering companies to count. Strutting around rich folks homes at private parties balancing tuna canapés on a silver tray dressed like a quasi French maid - don’t ask! This paid much better than the old age home coffee shop and got me to a few more races ;)
Working retail killed me. Long hours, on my feet all day long, tending to people buying $300 designer jeans for their tweens while I have to babysit their french poodle type oxygen thieving pets. Answering their “Does this make my butt look big” questions with complete false conviction - “OMG, they look amazing!” Cha ching, another sale for me meant more commission dollars in my pocket which = to more races!
Gym wasn’t really something I needed to add to my training program back then, as one year I helped to build a house. Yes, a massive, big, wooden log home in Oregon and I hand sanded planks from 9 to 5 for a few weeks straight. I sanded so many planks that I had to alternate arms every other day, so I can confidently say that I’m completely ambidextrous when it comes to sanding planks. Once all the planks were smooth as butter, I learnt how to install underfloor heating and did the whole house. I often think of that family and the beautiful home I helped to build. Hard graft, but great memories not to mention the character building - maybe that was where my Type 2 fun evil streak developed?
After a few years we moved into a “hippy” type commune/area in Laguna Canyon, and that was when I noticed heaps of bike type stuff in our neighbours garage, went for a nosey and turned out that it was Crankbrothers, which was running the business from the owners house. I strolled in and asked for a job. I struck gold. Being able to walk over to work with your coffee in one hand and porridge in the other, was pretty convenient. I started off by rebuilding pedals. Everyone started in the garage rebuilding pedals and then you moved in and up and helped with a bit of everything. It was my dream job with included plenty lunch and post work rides and I’ll forever be grateful to Crankbrothers for giving me the opportunity that I needed. Transitioning from the workshop into the office, working trade shows, testing, development, customer service, moving into fancy new premises, then merging with a big group and triple the amount of employees than what I started with. We were a family. When we decided to make a move out of California into Oregon, where life was a bit more affordable and realistic i was able to keep working for them remotely, this allowed me to keep travelling racing and working all at the same time which was refreshing for a change. We played the difficult but entertaining game of searching remote tiny villages for internet access for logging on to work for nearly five years.
I had been a Santa Cruz sponsored rider for many years, so when the womens division of Juliana Bicycles was formed and they asked me to come on board and help with the launch, I said, “HELL YES!” This was the first time in all my years of racing that I could purely focus on racing and training all year long. Ironically, it came at a time when i was ready to call it quits, the years of shitty random jobs and eternal debt were taking their toll but now a new door was opening, Enduro was growing so i jumped at this opportunity with a new brand who was already a family. This is what I’d been dreaming of for the past 10 years! Fast forward to the present, looking back, It’s been the best 4 and a half years ever and I will forever be grateful to Juliana Bicycles for this opportunity.
These were just a few of the jobs that stand out in my memory. I couldn’t have made it through these years without my sense of humour - they still make me giggle to this day. I am so thankful for all of these experiences. I learnt A LOT, worked with all sorts of people from all walks of life. It taught me how to be patient, to try anything and everything, to never turn down any possible opportunities and that you are never too good for any job. It seems these days a lot of younger up
and coming riders and aspiring racers are not willing to make the sacrifice to follow their dreams if it is not handed to them on a silver platter. I wouldn’t change one single thing. Absolutely no regrets - only one big smile, heaps of memories, as long as you are headed towards your goal or funding your life desires, keep at it. Life has a funny old way of always working out in your favour when you’ve worked really hard at something.