Day 3 – April 26, 2015
Start: Reitz Showgrounds
Finish: Sterkfontein Dam
Official distance: 122 k
Descent: 1082 m
Ascent: 1188 m
Terrain: Grass farmlands, district roads
Conditions: Windy, hot
Kits: Osmo and Vanderkitten
Day 3 was a real test for me. The distance was long, I had the injury to deal with and I was a bit dispirited because I felt that I had let Charlie down on day 2. (Our finish time on Day 2 was abysmal.) I knew that he had high aspirations for our performance and I totally took us out of any hope of placing in the range he had hoped for. One thing that really got pounded home on this ride was that the body self protects. When one part of your body is not working properly the others attempt to compensate for and protect the injured area. Additionally, I needed to adjust my riding position to reduce the weight and pressure on my shoulders. This adjustment lead to future issues…
I feared yet another day of muddy conditions but thankfully that was not the case. However, nature still seemed to play a major part in the difficulty of the day. It was an extremely windy day and it seemed to be a headwind the whole day. I was thankful that the day was less technical then previous day. Due to the distance we needed to cover there were large portions on district roads; while a bit dull did allow me to lessen the strain on my shoulders.
We had a wonderful fun section of single track along a river that broke up the monotony of the district roads.
By water stop 3, I was experiencing issues with my feet. A combination of the swelling from the heat and the hours of hard pedaling, I was experiencing shooting pains starting in my feet and continuing up my calves. At the water stop I was forced to remove my shoes and sit for a bit. (resulting in a second day with a slower than wanted finish time.)
The prolonged rest was well worth the time though as it made the final 30 k way more enjoyable. After leaving the water stop we began a long single track climb to the top of Mount Paul. It was a long climb but never not manageable and the views just became more stunning with every meter you went up. The pay-off descent was even better. It was technical but not sketchy or scary with nice switchbacks. All pain was forgotten on the ride down Mount Paul. At the bottom we crossed the Sterkfontein dam and continued the 4k to the campsite. I was so relieved to make it though the day. There were definitely moments when I didn’t think I would. Many thanks to Charlie for being patient with me; day 3 was really difficult both physically and mentally for me. Had it not been for his encouragement and anticipation of Day 4 I think I would have crawled into one of the medic trucks about mid day.
Strapped shoulder, Mount Paul, View from the campsite
Karrie’s Side Note: One thing I wished I had known prior to the race/ride was that I should have done more road riding. I think I would have benefited greatly from spending every other training ride on my road bike grinding out the miles. There are long stretches of this course that are geared for the gym rat on at spin bike – where your body is just a machine. Technical bike handling skills are not needed for the vast majority of the course; you just need the ability to grind for long, hard hours.
Long day in the saddle. Most of it was on district roads. These are wide (6-7 meters) graded dirt and can be gravelly or have short choppiness but also can have softer smooth tracks in them. The locals are experts on these and can really put distance on me. Per the route details: ‘75km mark there is a wonderful single-track called Jabulani (happiness in Zulu) along the river ‘ Unfortunately I stacked it into Karrie at the end of Jabulani, knocking her and her bike down and further aggravating her shoulder injury. The single track up Mt Paul was truly beautiful and the descent was a blast after we finally convinced a blocking rider to let our group pass. We actually move up 5 spots.
Charlie’s Day 3 lesson
Chamois cream. Lube early, lube often and at every water stop. Carry extra. The as$ you save may be your own.