Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Trans Bavians Mountain Bike race 2011

Trans Bavians 24hour 230km Non stop Mountain Bike Race (Willowmore to Jeffery’s Bay)

On Saturday morning standing at the start of this slightly crazy mountain bike race with 1250 fellow competitors in Willomore in the middle of the Karoo I was once again “Proudly South Africa” .As the last lines of our National Anthem were sung I got the usual goose bumps and lump in my throat. The Team (Jeanette, Garth and I ) were lined up at the start of a 230km non stop mountain Bike Race with a cut off time of 24 hours, 2800m of vertical climbing a route through The Groot Rivier Poort that no one I knew had ever been through, a large portion of the route would be ridden at night and to add to that the weather forecast showed a maximum tempreature for the day of 12 degrees and a chance of rain late that night (this was correct by the way ( Site nr.yo ).Why so Proudly South African you may ask? Well I ask you where in the world would you find people on a waiting list to do this event, where do you find 20 000 people enter a 89 km road run (The Comrades ), where do 38 000 ride 100km around a city and each one gets his/her own time (The Argus) or how about the Freedom Challenge (ride 2300 km across the back roads of South Africa on your own with no real back up) and the list goes on and on. We are a nation who on the sporting front have an undeniable spirit of taking on the “big’ events and rising up to the challenge.

Back to The Trans Bavians with Garth living at the bottom end of the Garden Route in East London we decided that Willowmore would be a good central place to meet for a race and some training time together. (Jeff put on his racing snake gear and rode with his son Brandon to a very respectable 34 place in the men’s race).

We arrived in Willowmore with the temperature at 3 degrees at about 8 in the morning. The sun was shining but it was cold. The registration was quick and easy and we collected our race numbers. It took a bit of explaining that we did not need our two resupply boxes that could be dropped along the route by the organizers and that our second did not need the maps to the two seconding points because he would not be going there, but we would take the T Shirt anyway. We had decided to carry all that we would need for the race from the start and see if we would get by on what was available out on the route.
After raiding the Merrel Adventure Addicts accommodation for some warmth and the toilet before the start we joined the bunch of crazy people at the start.

Jeannette said this “The 1st 100km where super fast it took us under 4 hrs and we are no cyclists, then it got a bit more interesting with a few hills thrown in but once we hit the 150 mark, OH BOY there it was the Mountain... A stunning technical down hill got us to the bottom of Groot River and then THE mountain started it was steep, nasty and endless” It was here that the profile started to take on the look of a stage of the Tour De France (a hundred kms of rolling hills, then a steep decent followed by 20kms of climbing, another steep decent and then a long steady climb of about 18 kms and then a short fast run in to the finish)
The downhill into Groot Rivier Poort was spectacular and on the limit of my riding ability at the speed we were doing. Garth is a down hill hooligan but had a couple of wake up calls along the way. The cold water of the river allowed us to fill our bottles and contemplate the climb ahead. The climb caused carnage among the field. Most riders ended up pushing at some stage. There were seconds in 4x4 vehicles who were stuck or who had broken down with water in the engine after the river crossing. We did not escape unscathed as Garth picked up some cramp after the river crossing. We did not make it over the summit before dark but the view as the moon rose was spectacular. At this stage we could look forward to a good road into Patensie where most teams would met their seconds and don warm clothes and have a warm meal. Frozen we dashed in Garth had 3 chip rolls , I had one but put chilli sauce on instead of tomato sauce but munched it anyway we had 50 odd kms to go and we weren’t hanging around. After a quick application of Blue Steel to the rather tender butts we were ready. Jeannette tapped her watch and chased us out of the huge vibey pack shed in about 7 minutes and we physched ourselves up for the “Never Ender”. This climb turned out to be tame compared to where we had come from with the gravel well packed and the moon showing the way. One more check point at Zuurbron and we headed to the coast with real momentum until some guy tried to over take me and went head first into the barbed wire fence next to the railway line, I slowed down a bit scared of suffering the same fate.

The finishing banners soon came into site ad with a purpose built ramp over the wall into Kabeljous resort we crossed the line. Medals in hand we headed straight to the Spur Tent to load up on a burger and chips before cycling down the road to Jeffery,s Bay to warm showers and bed.

Jeannette “It took us 12hrs and 44min on my watch and it was a great experience the 3 Pennypinchers worked superbly as a team and it was great fun just to be out there for that amount of time with your mates who see you in your worse state and who are still your mates afterwards. Thanks guys you rock!!”

The nitty gritty was
234,9 km, 2800m of climbing, minimum temp 5 ,average 11 degrees
Our time 12hr 42min , 86th overall (out of 400 teams), 5th mixed 3 Team

With this under the belt the Team is now looking forward to The Pennypinchers Karoo to Coast in September, The Hitec Otter Trail in October, The Eden Duo, in October and then the big one The Salomon Sky Run in the middle of November.

Thanks to Garths Father in law Dave who drove us up to the start and his wife Tammy who feed us enough great food to last us two Baavians trips.

With out the Gu s and Blue Steel we would still be out there so thank you guys for your on going support

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had a lot of fun. You actually intersected a part of the Freedom Challenge route. The part where you cross the Grootrivier and climb out the other side on Antonie's pass.