14 Dec 2009

Baviaans Mountain Bike Marathon, August 2009

This was my 5th Baviaans event and my team mates were two guys, Carl and Peter, both from Cape Town. The other team from the gym was Rodney as the captain, with Amanda, Marle and Mario as team members. My ride went well with Carl and Peter but I do think it is better to train with your team so you know their strong and weak points. This is a marathon event starting at 10:00 on the Saturday morning and ends at 12:00 the next day. Be prepared for your teammates to go through euphoria stages as well as down in the dumps stages. Euphoria when you reach the top of yet another mountain and can appreciate the view and scenery and down in the dumps stages when the legs are getting very tired and there is still 60km to go and it is two in the morning.

We reached Willomore at 8 o’ clock after driving through the night. Rodney and I took turns behind the wheel and at some stage did 120km/h through the sleepy town of Graaff Reinet. Totally unintentional, but I think at that stage we were as sleepy as the town. We phoned through to Willomore to wake up Amanda whom we had to pick up and then drove through to Jeffreys Bay where we would leave the cars at the end point of the race. Mario and Marle were waiting for us there to drive us up to Willomore again. I know, it sounds a total muddle but because this event is an open ended race it means you have to get the riders at the start without their cars so that they can have their cars at the end waiting for them. Still confused? Come and be part of this great ride and experience this confusion firsthand.

Both teams decided to make use of the boxes provided instead of the 4x4 support. So on Friday night every team had to pack their boxes with the stuff they think they might need at that stage of the race. Careful planning is needed here, as there is only one box per checkpoint for the first 3 checkpoints and nothing after that and also only one box per team was allowed. These boxes had to be dropped off on the morning of the race so the truck could drop them off at the different checkpoints.

Saturday morning dawned beautiful and warm, in fact the warmest of all the times I have done this race. More than enough food was available at the different checkpoints. The riders had to make sure to fill their water bottles as this was the driest ever I’ve seen the Baviaans. Normally there would be enough water in the rivers we had to cross. This year the riverbeds were dry.

Doringkraal checkpoint looked like a picnic, but after Doringkraal it was the big climb up to Bergplaas. After setting and attaching our lights to our bikes we tackled the beast!
Reaching Bergplaas we changed our clothes into something warmer for the colder part of the night. There was also a mechanical tent where you could have your bike checked over and the chain oiled etc. That was wonderful to just hand your bike over to the specialists and have something warm to eat in the meantime. Now it was time for the very steep descent. Take care and rather ride conservatively than having a fall and ruining your bike and the chances of finishing the ride. Once at the bottom of the mountain it is plain sailing to the next checkpoint, Komdomo.

From Komdomo to Suurbron lies a never-ending hill. Slowly climbing up and up. My lights were playing up with a loose connection because of all the corrugations in the road. Once we fixed it we could keep a good steady pace again. We arrived around 2:30am at the last checkpoint and what a lovely surprise. Vetkoek with mince and jaffles and enough hot coffee for an army. We almost didn’t want to leave the warm cosy friendly area, but with only 26km to go, we dragged ourselves away.

We arrived at the end, jubilant, relieved, mission accomplished. Waiting for us was a wonderful hot spur burger. We just sat down on the curb and devoured it. Yumyum! When last have you had a spur burger at 4:30 in the morning? Unfortunately for me, the spare key of the car didn’t want to open the boot of the car where all my clean clothes were waiting for me. So I just wrapped myself in a blanket and fell asleep in a chair while waiting for the other team to arrive. And they did arrive, everyone with their own story to tell. Till next year!

13 Dec 2009

Kremetart 6 June 2009

Do yourself a favour and set aside a weekend to do the Krematart ride in Louis Trichardt. It is truly the best, friendliest, with over the top goodie bag, organised race you can imagine.

We arrived still in daylight on the Friday at our hotel, which was about 1km from the start. Perfect! Our rooms were brand new, not lived in before, but perfect. Once the bikes were off loaded and we were registered and while marvelling over the goodie bag, we settled in at the pub for a few welcome drinks. With the pasta dinner behind us it was time for bed, so we would be fresh for the long ride the next day, 175km in all.

There is just no better place to train during winter. While Gauteng is stuck in a bitter cold winter the northern parts of the country has very mild weather. Off we went on the first part of the race, which was about 48km. Starting off with a very steep climb of about 11km, but once over the top a race through the tunnels and a fairly flat stretch of road. Nowhere near the traffic like on the Gauteng roads. We reached the first stop for breakfast! Amazing! Everyone has something to eat, from soup, to sandwiches to yoghurt to muffins and coffee.
Everyone lines up for the second part of the race; about 52km. Every time the race was a precision start, with the pros starting first and ending with the Comrades, that’s us. This section is fairly flat and as long as you can stay with the bunch to help you through the windy patches, it is great. Reaching the next stop, we had lunch. Again, everything was so well organised. You could choose between a warm pie, or a roll with cheese and salad all nicely wrapped. Enough drinks to fill your bottles for the next stage. We found a nice shady spot to sit and were just watching the other riders and enjoying our lunch pack.
Lining up for the third stage after lunch and in the heat of the day, another 53km. This stage has always been to me the most difficult of the four stages. My legs were feeling a little lazy after the break and I know a few climbs were lying ahead. Here again, if you can stay with a few riders to help you set a pace, you will be ok. Every 100m of the last 1km were marked out. It was a steep climb and with very tired legs every 100m felt like a 1000. Reaching the top you were welcomed with a packet of sweets! Jelly babies, chocolates and biscuits. Very welcome indeed.
The last stage is only 22km, which would bring you back into town again. Put your head down and go as hard as you can, except you have to go over a climb first. On the other side of the climb is Louis Trichardt. Racing through town was quite something with the streets lined with supporters. We made it! We were over the line and were welcomed with a cold beer.

The prize giving was a fantastic affair with braai fires going and potjie kos and plates heaped with food. More cold beer and a lucky draw win made this one of the most memorable rides of 2009.
Leaving the town the next morning after another hearty breakfast, we were stopped by the traffic police, only to be showered with more gifts and fruit from the organisers. Tell your friends and be there next year. It is fantastic! Get even more information form www.kremetartcycling.co.za

Ride to Rhodes Dry Run: Day 2

The second day and another mountain

We got up early the next day and drove to Highover where we would leave the car. We were ready for the mountain, or so we thought. The climb was steep and with loose gravel it didn’t make it any easier.

The view was spectacular! Up and up we went and every now and again we would stop to admire the view over the Umkomaas valley. …and to catch our breath. The narrative warned about a hairpin bend and an even steeper climb from there. So every corner we turned and saw the road snaking upwards we were wondering if this was it. It wasn’t. Today we were climbing with fresh legs and a nasty thought run through my mind. How will I ride this mountain after already 80km of tough riding? That is for another day to work through. The last 800m of the steep climb we had to get off the bikes and push, it was just too steep.

Over the top and a welcome respite for the legs. The beautiful view, which met our eyes, was that of the farm, Blackwood. Such green pastures and rolling greenery and a tiny tractor moving in the fields. One other thought crossing my mind was, will I be able to look up and enjoy the scenery or will the cycling become drudgery.

I was there to support Rodney, but next year it will be me having to deal with the monsters.