The first time I did the race, we were a 3 man team, Celeste, Hano and myself - and complete novices. I bought my mountain bike secondhand two months before the time. A beautiful GT, and it's blue. Celeste's pedal came off after 70km and could unfortunately not finish the race. Our lights were not working properly. I was blinded by my own lights at least 12 times which caused me to fall, at least 12 times. I lost two sets of lights. I got hypothermia because of cold wet weather and not wearing the right clothes. I remember sitting inside a sleeping bag on top of the mountain at 12 at night, soaking up the warmth of our 4x4 support vehicle, shivering, drinking dreadful tasting soup that they dished up for the cyclists, dressed in all the clothes I had, when the voice of Hano, reached my ears with these dreadful words: "It's time to go". What effort it took to shook off the warmth and step into the cold. But amazingly we finished the race in 22 and 1/2 hrs.
So lessons were learned and last year we were so much better prepared. It was going to be Hano and myself. We trained harder, we trained smarter. We had a support team like non other, Rodney and Edmarie. They had everything warm/cold/fresh/tied down/ loosened, you name it, they were prepared. But the Baviaans threw the curve ball. Beautiful the day before the race, on race day late in the afternoon it started to rain. The second half of the race was wet, mud, rain in your face, and more mud. At one stage we had to cross a low water bridge. It's dark, you can only see a beam of light, not where the road is, not where the bridge is, so I missed it and rode right off the bridge into the river. The mud played havoc with the brakes of a number of cyclists including mine and although our mechanic (Rodney) did his best, I had to finish on the spare bike. And finish we did, and in style in 19 and 1/2 hrs. Some wise words at the end: "It is not so much about the fitness, it is more about your head, your mind. Many riders were a lot younger, but didn't finish the race."
This, just in short, is what you can expect on the Baviaans 24hr mountain bike race from Willowmore to Jeffreysbay, 230km in all. The race date is Saturday and Sunday, 18-19 August. For more information about the rules, entry fees and such go to www.gardenroute.org and find the Baviaans link or go to www.ecobound.co.za
- a mountain bike with shocks
- lights for your bike
- rain clothing
- all weather armorfit clothing
- food and drink
- first aid, and
- above all fitness and a will to finish
In addition to that, you will need an entry, accommodation for before and after the race, and a support vehicle which needs to be a 4x4 or a vehicle with high clearance. Teams consist of either 2, 3 or 4 cyclists plus your support team. From past experience we found that a 2-man support team is better than just one person
We will have a pre-Baviaans Braai at my house on Friday 26 January at 18:30. If you are remotely interested in mountain biking as a cyclist or want to be part of the support team to see what this race is all about, be there. We will want to put teams, support teams, 4x4's, accommodation and the rest together. Forms to fill in, what to take, what you need etc will all be on the agenda.
By the way, I'm still riding the secondhand blue GT. Just got new egg beater pedals, thanks to an ardent fan.