No stranger to searching examinations, former South Africa rugby captain John Smit will test his endurance skills when he enters the TransCape mountain bike race for the first time next year.
After retiring from rugby in 2013, the 39-year-old has turned to mountain biking as an outlet for his competitive instincts and is excited about taking on the seven-day, 614km journey from Knysna to Franschhoek in the Western Cape from February 4.
Smit, who led the Springboks to World Cup glory in 2007, said cycling had been the perfect avenue after his lengthy rugby career.
“It has been a great tool in moving out of the game and into real life,” he said. “Training has been a part of my life since I was a young boy so this sport suits me perfectly.”
He added that he had experienced many similarities to the challenges he faced during his rugby career.
“The discipline of training and eating is important, as well as balancing those factors with your working life.
“The other similarity is the adrenalin factor that both sports hold with a risk versus reward system in place for how ambitious you want to be.”
Smit said he had known about the TransCape, driven by Volvo, for some time but had never managed to enter.
“So this is a great opportunity to finally participate. I don’t have too much detail on the race, but any event longer than the usual three days will no doubt require some training.”
He will compete with his good friend, Shane Chorley, with whom he has ridden a number of high profile events, including the Cape Epic and the Wines2Whales.
After being the chief executive of the Sharks Rugby Union for three years, Smit is now involved in a new project.
“I’m helping put together a great concept called Rugby Centurions,” he said.
“It’s a club for all the players who have played 100 tests or more for their country and our purpose will be to grow the game of rugby and to give back to the sport that gave us so much.”