4 Jul 2009
It is always nice to do one of the easier rides on the riding calender. And to get more people of the gym taking part, an added bonus. Diarise this event as a "must do" for next year if you've missed out this year. It is a fairly flat ride with barely a hill, starting at the waterfront centre, going through town and then pass Settlers on the way back to Bela Bela.
Now for those who have been to the Petit Paris in the Freestate will know how much fun it always is to do this event. The organising is well done, the people always friendly and helpful and with a revamped cycle trail it promised to be the best. Although I tried my bestest, only one team from the gym made it out to the event.
On Saturday morning we set out and the closer we got to the event the more worried we got. Normally by that time we would have passed a number of cars with mountain bikes on racks of various shapes and sizes, except we didn't see any. We even thought we had the date wrong! As we pulled into Petit Paris we saw them, tents, people, gasbraais, mountain bikes a plenty. With a sigh of relief and a hurried feeling to get the registration done and bikes ready we pulled into the perfect parking spot.
One minute before the Le Mans start of the race, the announcer called out our team number. Yes? Us? Can't be! A marshall closed the gate which our bikes were leaning against, and by accident cut the sidewall of my tyre with the razor wire. Oomph! Go tubeless, all the time! Just spinned the wheel a couple of times, checked the pressure and it sealed it by itself. So off we went! Well, sort of....a Le Mans start of the race means we had to run the first part, about 100m. I know it isn't a lot, but that is why I cycle and not run. Anyway, we got going.
As I said the trail had been changed and what a winner it was. Starting going passed the buildings, up a slight hill which was single track, sidestepping a few boulders, over the top, down hill, single track, rocky bumpy part, sharp left and a fast jeep track. Then sharp right, cross over the railway line, down a rough, bumpy track, where it evened out into a fast track through the trees (beautiful part) out on the other side making a fast line to the dam wall. A sharp, steep short very muddy uphill to get on top of the dam wall, bouncy grassy ride on the dam wall and then steep down with a sharp right at the bottom. Short sharp steep up again (or you could opt for the chicken run), passed the horses and the stables (that was nice) and cross the deep donga over a rickety grid. A fast track mixed with single track, next to the railway line for a short bit, and then the sharp left with a short steep climb and down the other side followed immediately with a steep short climb over the rickety bridge which brought you back to the start and the end of lap one. As we cycled lap after lap, I tried to memorise the track to make it just easier for myself when we have to do the night riding. The nose of the rock sticking out too far, or the line through the muddy part, or the up part after the rickety grid over the deep donga.
As the light started to fade, we decided to do one more lap before our stop to eat, add more clothing to our attire for night riding and of course add the lights to our bikes.
Being a noon to moon ride it meant we had to start at 12:00 and ride till 24:00. It always seems to me that the day time riding goes much faster and that during the night riding you have to struggle around yet another lap......of course it is all just in the mind.
The change over inside the big barn-like hall for the 24hour riders were absolutely abuzz with riders, friends, supporters and the like. The "grand stand" which was specially built for the occasion was packed with supporters. On the strike of midnight, our ride came to an end and we were welcomed in with a big cheer from the grand stand. We did 14 laps which came to a good 113km.
Of course we will do it again.