Thursday, August 19, 2010

Trans Baviaans 2010 part 1

This weekend past the long awaited and prepared for Trans Baviaans took place. It happened to coincide with the Leadville 100, a 100 mile MTB race in Colorado at high altitude (see Fatcyclist's blog here and here - well worth the read...)
The Trans Baviaans is somewhat tougher.
Yes, it's at low altitude, and yes, the climbing is similar (slightly less, in fact) over a longer distance. This sentence, however, also contains the reason for my statement. A Longer Distance. 65km longer, to be more precise.
This race is billed as the the longest single stage mtb race in the world. This may have been true at its inception, but now with Sani2C nonstop and Desert Dash, it may have lost its claim. However, because Desert Dash can be done solo, and many do it, it can also be done as a relay, and Sani2C Nonstop seems to be a bit erratic in taking place, I'm going to claim that we finished the longest single stage mtb race in the world. There is no halfway, no team relay.
You just keep going. And going. And then you go some more :-)
But man, what a beautiful piece of country. I tell you the truth, SA must be one of the most beautiful place in the whole flipping world.

The Journey

Anyhow, the team (Adri Ferrari, Carine Cat-I, Brendan DuctTape, Nicolien Without-Nickname-yet and I) drove down to Willowmore (the start) on Friday. It's a long drive from Gauteng. It took about 10 hours to get there from picking up the girls in Jozi, and another 2.5 hours before that for us guys to pack and travel to them. This of course includes lots of stops to rest eat and take photos (Did I mention that our designated SuperSecretSecond and support driver Nicolien is an ardent amateur photographer and part time mud-skipper?)

We came from there...
We're goin there...
We also discovered just about how far a VW Sharan TDi can go one a full tank... Pretoria to Willowmore... 1050km on 80l with 5 people and four bikes...
We made it with a fume to spare :-)

The Accomodation

Registration and Race Briefing were dispatched  with jovial informality, and then we were off to our accommodation for the evening. A bit of a drive back along the way we came, but we weren't scared of a little thing like that. We were booked in to a guest farm owned by Cobus and Louretta Lotter. It should be noted here, however, that they own TWO farms, one which is the guest farm previously mentioned and one where they themselves stay. We were supposed to go to the one where they stay. Of course, the gps coords were for the other one...
Luckily here in Africa we don't trust high technology, so we also had paper directions. Luckily.
The place where we were to stay is nestled in between the Witteberg and the Skoorsteenberg mountains. It makes for spectacular views and a slight minority complex. Of course, it also makes for excellent cellular reception... NOT!!!
Our hosts were incredible.
We arrived there in the dark, and were immediately greeted by various dogs as we stepped out.
then Tannie Louretta came out and welcomed us in and ushered us to the dining room where she had prepared a meal of epic proportions for us. There was enough food. Now, we are a bunch of cyclists (OK, actually adventure racers) and, as everybody knows, only a true cyclist is a bottomless pit when it comes to food (and I'm willing to extend this to adventure racers as well), AND given the fact that there were at least 25 of us between the two farms, AS WELL AS the fact that the food was scrumptious I must give all praise here. And all this with no electricity supply. That was taken care of by a generator!!! These people know how to host. Really well.
View past the farmhouse
We slept like rocks after sorting out the race checkpoint boxes. It's amazing how quiet it is when the nearest tar road is 16km away, and there is no light pollution. We awoke the next morning refreshed.
I climbed up a small koppie to the north of the farmhouse to watch the sun come up. It has actually become a special time of day for me.

Race Day

We had breakfast, another awesome meal where we couldn't finish all the food, packed the car, and drove off to the start.

Adri Ferrari
Carine Cat-I

I can't really wheelie...
Brendan DuctTape

Arriving without major incident (apart from a slight tire blowout) at the start, we get ready (mostly lubing bikes and placing purple alice bands on our helmets) we get to back of the start group and wait for the start in slightly nervous anticipation. For me anyway. At this stage, let me mention that my previous longest ride was 114km and my wife thought I was dead (she kept checking my pulse while I slept just to make sure I wasn't  :-) )
So this was at least double the length of anything I had ever tried.

But we were full of determination to see this through. Quitting is not something any of us take lightly, even with injury.
After the national anthem was sung (a first for me at any race, and a very nice touch), the vuvuzelas were sounded and the race began... be continued :-)

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