Mistakes provide an opportunity to grow and learn, and Shaun-Nick Bester is not dwelling on the past as he continues to strive for greatness in Europe.
After a bumper season racing internationally, the South African admitted there was a list of things he wished he could go back and change.
“I made lots of wrong choices when I was younger that influenced my cycling career in a negative way,” he said.
If he could, he would give his younger self a serious pep talk, he said.
“If I could go back I would have been more serious about my cycling career in the U23 category to develop my body.”
The 26-year-old learnt from his early errors and made a point of laying the foundation for peak fitness as he prepared to line up alongside some of the biggest names on the road this season.
The persistent all-rounder led many a breakaway as he raced his way around Spain and Portugal, being duly rewarded with the most aggressive rider’s jersey at the Grande Premio Jornal de Noticias in May.
“My main focus this year was to race as many of the UCI races to get more experience competing against WorldTour and Pro-Continental teams.”
Satisfied with this season’s tally, Bester said he had been under no illusion as to what he had been letting himself in for when he decided to pursue his career overseas.
“The biggest and most obvious differences between races in South Africa and the ones I have competed in over the past two years are the distances and terrain.”
Bester, who now lives in Porriño, Spain, said the level of difficulty varied from country to country with the different terrain and styles of racing.
“Here an average race day would be 160 to 190km with more than 2 500m of ascent, whereas in South Africa most of the races are between 95 and 110km and a “tough” race like the 947 Cycle Challenge has about 1 400m of ascent.
“In short, racing here and racing back home is completely different and similarities are few and far between,” he said.
This year, Bester admitted, had not been an easy one as he had had many curve balls to deal with.
“This season I have had a lot of obstacles and setbacks like crashes, illnesses and injuries to overcome.
He said he had been able to overcome these while remaining positive and he proved his determination as he lined up to race week in and week out.
A further challenge, he said, was the isolation that came with being a stranger in foreign countries.
“It does get lonely, especially because of the culture differences we have with the Europeans. It is hard to establish the same types of friendships that one can establish back home.”