20 Aug 2008

Trans Baviaans Marathon 2008

Days before the event we were watching all possible weather predictions on the net to see what we could expect on D-Day. A cold front was creeping over the country and to make it slightly more uncomfortable, it was accompanied by an icy wind. We arrived in PE to pick up our 4x4 truck. We would only find out later how much we would need this truck. Marle, our last minute appointed driver, didn't seemed to be fazed at all by the conditions.

Arriving in Willowmore, we made our way to our overnight accommodation, where some of our teammates were already waiting. A full inspection of all the bicycles was made by everyone who was going to ride and by everyone who wish they could ride and by everyone who was very thank full that they won't be riding. Off we went to registration to get our race numbers as well as all the rules and regulations, t-shirts, tog bags and corporate car sticker. In the meantime, lots of cooking had been going on in the kitchen. It was cutting, chopping, stirring and adding salad dressings to the wrong salads. A wonderful chin wag time was going on and to keep the throats wet, a glass of wine and a beer were just the right stuff to get everyone in the right spirit. The next morning, everyone was up early to get bikes ready, to pack the 4x4 and to have the usual pre-race breakfast. Coffee and more coffee. We watched the weather anxiously. Was it going to rain? The sky was heavy with clouds and an icy wind was blowing. Some were more nervous than others. New inventions to stop the cold from reaching the bodies were the order of the day. Rodney and Carl came up with these toe warmers, but after about 10min the wrapping fell off.....no good.A last team photo before our support , Elzet and Marle, had to leave.

Facing a headwind and really bad corrugations we arrived at checkpoint 1. All the effort is soon forgotten when we were welcomed by our teammates as royalty. The scenery was making up for the difficult riding conditions and kept us going. Once again we were on the open road.The heavy downpour of the previous night filled all the potholes in the road with water, so we were never sure how deep a puddle really was. We had to stay vigilant and it was left around a puddle, right around a puddle, in between puddles, watching out for slippery muddy sections...... and the constant vibration of the corrugations of the road.

We arrived at checkpoint 2 and the general talk was about how many minutes were already lost in comparison to last year's ride.
And so we reached checkpoint 3, where we donned some lights and warmer clothing. On to the hill of hills, up and up till we reached checkpoint 4, Bergplaas. There we changed into the warmest of warm clothing. It was freezing. Lovely warm soup, dry clothes. I had a fell over into a mud puddle and my gloves were wet. We tried to dry them at the fire but gave up after a couple of minutes. I got some long fingered gloves from a Samaritan but because they were slightly too big, all the cold air got in. Our 4x4 by now resembled a sweep vehicle having to pick up poor soldiers whose horses gave up on the battle. We were 140km into the race. 90km still to go.

Getting up the mountain is one thing, but going down quite something else. The steepness, the darkness, trying not to look at the cliff edge just at your side. A sigh of relief, we made it down the hill in one piece, no mechanical. Between Bergplaas and Komdomo is another 30kms. We were about halfway when the accident happened. How it happened we are still trying to figure out, but Etienne came off his bike and broke his collarbone. We couldn't believe it. We retrieved his bicycle from the jungle. He got onto the back of a scrambler with his bicycle neatly wedged in between him and the biker. I had to join up with another team and cycled with them to Kondomo. At this point that team decided to withdraw from the race and I had to find yet again another team to ride with so I could finish the race. In the end I was teamed up with "die Bosvarke", bless their socks. We made it all to the end. Thanks to Attie and Wilhelm and Garth for riding the last 60km with me.

Something of interest. At all the checkpoints they put up a little black board with the first ten teams names on that went through the checkpoint. Yes, by the time I passed that checkpoint it was 2:26 in the morning.

A big welcome also awaited Team Build with Rodney who navigated his first timer teammates through the Baviaans successfully. Well done to Carl, Gordon and Rodney!

And so this wonderful ride came to an end. But only till next year. I hope that this story has inspired you as it has us, again. To ride more and more often, to take up a challenge. You will only know if you can, if you do it.

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