At the end of last month Jeremiah Bishop got an email from his Sho-Air sponsored team titled, “Sponsorship/Opportunity.” The content was to let him know he was laid off, sighting a small section in the contract that rendered 2015, which he was signed through, as meaningful as a wooden nickel, in his own words.
“After the initial frustration, anger and shock subsided a realization crystallized in my head,” he said. “This is freedom, I can forego traditional cross-country and race The Munga, a 620 mile, non-strop, two-person team race across South Africa.”
The Munga, which begins on December 3, has a $10,000 entry fee and boasts an unheard of 1 million dollar prize purse with $750,000 going to the winning team. It’s unsupported but will have five checkpoints along the way for rider safety.
We will be running Bishop’s personal diary as he prepares to conquer The Munga. As of yet he has no teammate.
The Munga Diary, entry 1
By Jeremiah Bishop
I was pumped to see my training buddy Ben King get the most aggressive rider jersey at the Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. He is country-tough and known as a hard man of the pro road peloton. I nearly had to pry him off the phone when we last talked about the Munga, his voice revved with curiosity and excitement at the prospect of days in the bleaching desert doing something outside the norm.
Unfortunately just got news back that the Garmin-Sharp team coaching staff think Munga is too much, even for Ben!
No worries, I thought, I’ll just catch up with plan-B: the real-life Indiana Jones, Kurt Refsnider, geology professor by day and mountain bike steamroller by night. He holds the records on both the Arizona Trail 750 and 300.
But then there was another surprise, like a scorpion in my cycling shoe!
Kurt Refsnider has decided to team up with Jay Petervary, another legend of ultra-endurance toughness. Jay is a mental juggernaut and has the record in the Iditabike—I read accounts of him making the 60-hour journey with no sleep for two nights.
Dang. What took me a few months of scouting has me back to the drawing board.
At least my training is going great. I have been pounding some serious tough-man miles; some of the hardest of my life. Like the six-hour ride the other week deep into the mountains of West Virginia followed by jogging squats and lunges until I was ready to collapse. I have also been doubling-up with some of my wicked-fast coaching clients, training in the afternoons. The work is paying off and I feel tougher than I ever have in my life.
The plan for this past weekend’s Shenandoah 100 was to ride from my house at 4 a.m. to the race, try to win, then practice my quick 4-minute Munga-style pit stop and go out for an additional 60 miles for a total of 180-200 miles for the day. Am I nervous? Yep. Excited? Hell yeah!
Despite the fact that my training is going great right now, in The Munga you’re only as good as your weakest link. So, in Munga terms, right now I am “stuffed,” as they say in South Africa.
So, to find my Munga teammate, I have devised a plan to make two of my hardest training tests into “Mini Mungas;” that way the mountain can sort out the umpteen, emails, tweets and FB messages I have received from people who think they would be the prefect partner. Mini Munga #1 will be in a few weeks. Stay tuned right here for details and updates. It’s going to be like American Idol with a touch more destruction and beat down.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in it to win it and the fact is: winning a race like Munga is all about persistence, persistence, persistence. So I will train hard and keep looking for my twin.
Stay tuned to see just how the Shenandoah adventure went later this week!