Start: Karan Beef, Heidelberg
Finish: Frankfort Sports Ground
Official distance: 116 k
Descent: 867 m
Ascent: 855 m
Terrain: Grass farmlands, rolling hills, 3 floating bridges over the Vaal River
Kits: 12 Hours
Anticipation and the clearing sky
For a neutral, non-race day, Charlie went out hard and nearly killed me trying to find his place in the pack. This was the single hardest day of bike riding I have ever had. The mud was thick and deep. It sucked at your tires. The entire day felt like pedaling on spin bike on full resistance. You even needed to pedal going downhill. I have never been so mud-covered. We crossed countless 15-20’ long swamp areas that were so thick and deep that your foot was submerged in the mud on the downstroke. I swear the only thing that kept me going through was knowing that if I stopped for any reason I would be shin deep in thick black farm mud and that I needed to wear the same pair of shoes the next day.
Waterpoint highlight: Bambi Nursery – more than potatoes ☺ beautiful spot to look across the river.
Yep, my bad. I was feeling strong and wanted to see how we would stack up against the other riders. The bus ride to the start was a mix of terrified new riders and overamped testosterone cases. Put me in the terrified section as it started to pour rain on the way and all our rain gear was in a truck heading to the finish. The race announcer calls it a ‘bit boggy’. Actually the whole route was sticky with pedal deep ‘SA stink mud’, floating bridges, gooey district road and a few water crossings just to flush out the shoes. Finished the day with soaked shorts & shoes & a bit of chaffing from the full power pedal rotation.
Charlie’s Day 1 lesson
NEVER race a neutral day. Treat it as a warm up and use it to get yourself sorted out and make a few friends.