FIRST TEAM EFFORT
Great day out. Was awesome to finally spend a day out riding with Sibusiso.
Weather was gorgeous in the morning. Nice cloud cover and cool for the first 2.5 odd hours until the sun came out.
2 long steady climbs were exactly what the legs and the head need to start understanding what Epic will hold in store for us.
Between the climbs,the terrain was a nice consistent mixture of dirt road and single track with a few lovely forest sections and a few shaded runs alongside the river.
When the sun did come out, it came out in style and the temperature rose appreciably. Enough tore mind us how hot Mpumulanga can get. Hopefully we get some cloud cover over the next 2 days.
I was happy with the way we both fared for a first outing, particularly Sibusiso who hasn’t been on a bike much at all so despite being very fit for running, isn’t cycling fit. Hecramped quite badly at about 50km’s which he suffered from quite a while, but after a brief stop and a stretch he picked up the pace again and soldiered on till the end.
My bike fit with Rich Baxter at Dunkeld Cycles has got the bike feeling really good, my Specialized shoes are great and I’m loving putting the skills lessons Nicolle from the PWC bikepark gave us into practice. I can feel great progress being made in my control of the bike and consequently, less pain and fatigue in my body.
Having watched Sibs ride in front of me, it looked like his seat may be a bit low and his one cleat has his shoe facing at quite a weird angle, so I am certain that he would benefit greatly from a good professional bike fit of the Richard Baxter variety.
Sibusiso and I chatted a lot and it was awesome spending time with him and getting to know him better. (see fun facts below)
Thankfully no falls,no injuries, no mechanicals whatsoever but we did see a Mozambique spittingCobra alongside the track. Thankfully Sibs only alerted me to it after the fact. It was a short time after his first cramp and when he called out behind me to say I’d just ridden past it, we laughed at what a Darwin award we could have achieved, had I braked hard at his call, only for him to crash into the back of me and for us both to fall, cleated, onto the cobra.
When he pointed it out to me, looking back along the trail, it was up in reared position with it’s very colourful hood very visible in the grass.
After his mountaineering and exploring exploits, he is first and foremost a runner.
His best times are:
Comrades 9.23 – he definitely wants to get a Bill Rowan medal (sub 9 hour) in the future
Marathon 3.08 – he ran in the morning in Secunda before running a 21k and a 10k in the same day for a cumulative 73km’s
Half-marathon – 1.20
These were all achieved in the same year – a brilliant running year in which he klapped it.
So all in all a great day out. A lot of work still to do.
RACE DAY 2
What a joy and privilege it is to ride a MTB off-road. I meant to say it yesterday but forgot and today only served to remind me again of that fact.
A joy – in that Mountain Biking has got to be the closest feeling one can get to a roller coaster ride without paying a fare and jumping into a cart. The sheer thrill and exhilaration of powering a bike through the twists and turns of a fast flowing single track are almost without parallel.
A privilege – in the sense that in some of the events you get access to the most beautiful backroads and interesting areas of our fab SA countryside. And I must mention the Mankele MTB bike park here. The trails running off this park are incredible and incorporate a sublime mixture of fun, fast, technical and aesthetically beautiful options to tick the box for most riders.
So with that start you can probably gather we had another great day out.
The weather forecast suggested showers for most of the day. Thankfully it was simply overcast for the 6 hours we were out there today and it only just started raining now, as Itype this in my tent after passing out for a little afternoon sleep.
The profile map showed a slightly tougher day of climbing consistently through the day, and while there was a lot of climbing it wasn’t too bad and we handled it fine,though will need to ride faster in general to conquer what Epic will put before us.
Sibs was solid today,and despite me picking up some Cramp Ease yesterday in case he was hit by it again, the cramps abated and he had a nice solid ride.
There was nothing really in particular worth noting for the day, except maybe that I was again reminded what friendly people Mountain bikers on the whole are and how they are always prepared to help one another out and ensure everyone is having a jol onthe ride.
Sibs and I had some lekker chats again and were happy to finish the 2nd long stage ride towards our exciting ABSA Cape Epic next year.
And now, I must brave the rain and go and avail myself of an ice cold beer and a good seat for the Bok game against Aus. 2 things I looked forward to the whole day while riding.
RACE DAY 3
It’s seriously amusing how before the start of each day of an event, conversation is littered with discussions about what the weather will do and what that day’s course is like.
Well the weather looked kak. By kak, I mean seriously overcast with the imminent threat of rain looming in big ominous clouds overhead. But not necessarily kak in the sense that cloud cover without rain was preferable to burning heat. So our fate in that regard was undecided. If it remained overcast without rain, we were good.It if bucketed down, as the clouds suggested it might, not so good.
With regards the route, it was significantly shorter than the previous 2 days at only 48kms.That was fact so that was a relief. And although I don’t pay them much heed, my quick glance at the route profiles on the Thursday night, suggested that day 3was pretty flat too.
So I was a bit surprised when I heard someone mention that there was quite a monster climb for the first hour of the day.
I don’t always pay those comments / conversations too much heed as they often affect one’s thinking in one direction (either better or worse than reality) without cause.
But that little forewarning proved correct as there was a substantial climb early on in the day, followed by a few more for good measure, resulting in the first half of the day comprising almost solely of climbing of different grades.
Thankfully the cloud cover held and our minds were taken off some of the toil and slog by a long and lekker chat with a team of very cool single-speed zero suspension cyclists.
Watching them grind up the solid incline with no lower gears for relief was something to admire and getting to quizz them on how and why they had ended up riding single speedbikes on stage races was really interesting.
After thankfully killing most of the climbing by the halfway mark, the 2nd part of the day presented a series of flat dirt roads and some sweeping and exhilarating single track that whizzed by.
There was one final brutal climb, shorter than previous ones, but steeper and significantly more technical than those that had come before. Having waxed the first part, I unfortunately had to pause slightly for a cyclist in front of me and as a result had to dismount and walk out the steepest part, but I’m not sure I would have managed it anyway.
The reward on the other side of that climb though was a steep, very fast and technical descent back into the valley which I decided to ride hard. I was thrilled that the skills lessons recently learnt had me feeling way more confident in my ability than I’d felt before and I flew down into the valley.
I hooked up with Sibs at the bottom and we had a fun and reasonably quick paced ride back into camp with Sibs taking one nice spill over a small drop off.
We crossed the line feeling pretty chuffed that the first stage in our journey towards the ABSACape Epic 2017 was done without injury or issue and it definitely has me feeling confident that with the right application over the coming months, we should be in the right shape come March 2017.