Well it was quite a roller coaster ride, from a mental perspective, and although the terrain had a fair number of “undulations”. Some parts of the race are completely soul destroying and I had to dig deep to get through those moments. Whether it was just being tired or intense knee pain you just have to push through.
The area is absolutely stunning, and although half the ride was at night, the trip through Baviaans was beautiful. The cliffs on either side where a majestic golden colour and very ragged. The riding terrain was fantastic with long sweeping downhill sections which made it that much more enjoyable, except for the dust. Although it had to come to an end, with a short sharp climb out the back of Baviaans.
Riding up MAC (Mother of All Climbs) was one of those moments that I did not specifically enjoy. It was less about the 7.9km with 455m of climbing, but we had already got into darkness at the start of the climb. Some sections of the road had concrete jeep tracks built on the steeper sections to repair some of the damage from soil erosion. I am not talking about a great surface either, with drop offs on either sides of the concrete of up to 10cm’s and steps between sections where the effects of erosion had continued and was undermining the concrete.
The challenge I experienced was trying to maintain my line on the uphill struggle, especially in the dark, which was made that much worse by the concrete. I felt it may have something to do with my hearing loss, and with reduced visibility riding with lights. Riding with lights causes depth perception challenges, and with my hearing it was difficult to maintain balance and I would often veer off to one side or the other, much to my team mates concern, as I almost wiped them out a couple of times. Eventually I hung back slightly and just struggled along, albeit very frustrated.
After the final check point #7, and then seeing the red flashing warning lights mounted on the wind turbines, on the extensive wind farms in the area, was surreal. All but one flashing in unison, signaling that the end of the ride was near. No major climbs left, however every little bump in the road was still tough to get over. There was a short respite on tar road before we dipped off onto single track next to the rail way line, for the last 3km to the finish.
With the ride being accident free until literally the last minute, yours truly, while exiting the single track from the rail way line, proceeded to get the front wheel slipping out on the last sharp corner. No damage done as I had my warm gear on, so no grazes, cuts or scrapes, just a dent to the old pride. The only other issue was a minor mechanical issue with Angus’s bike. Have never seen someone get their chain in a knot, but he somehow managed. Luckily nothing that could not be sorted very quickly.
The team on the ride was great, with some great camaraderie. We stayed together for the duration of the race, and I cannot thank the guys enough for everything, including some awesome training rides.
Kon the King (Konrad), Goose (Angus), and Vader (Garth), and in case you where wondering I was known as Monty.
Lastly the other Brian (Konrad’s dad) for being our second. With words of encouragement, food and dry warm clothing when needed at the various check points. Nothing like recognizing someone who has a huge smile on his face, when coming it the CP’s and at the end.
Next year certainly looks tempting to do this one again, but will look at flying down rather than the 11 hour drive each way.
For all the stats on the race head over to Strava