38km, 940m climbing (farm gravel roads and forest jeep track)
The boys decided to head to the start today in Boet, Kev’s Ford Ranger, making use of the heater to warm the legs up instead of riding the 25km to the start venue, Kay and Monty wine farm. The weather, like Kevin’s hair, had turned grey over-night and we had some very light rain on the way to the start.
As discussed on the drive in, we decided to ride our own tempo for the day and keep a little something in the tank for the nasty climb at the end of the stage. This saw us off the back of the leaders on the first climb. We were able to pull back time on the smoother rolling roads with Kevin hammering on the front and Brendon holding on for dear life.
We passed one or two riders that had some technical problems on the route ahead and we caught up to some of the solo riders and worked well with them for the next 15 kilometres or so. The route took us through some cracking forest roads, mixed with a few tricky rocky descents.
The middle section of the race took us through some overgrown jeep track, with some exhilarating descents, not quite knowing which line to take through the tall grass and Brendon’s cracking a little chuckle about a Vipa in the grass… Thereafter, we quickly found ourselves on the final climb of the day which we had researched the night before on Strava and gathered that it should take us +- 18 minutes. Our game plan of “Brendon on the front up the climbs” and “Kevin ride tempo” soon went out the window as Kevin tapped out the watts and Brendon just hung on. After being fooled into thinking we had completed the climb 3 or 4 times, we were onto the real final descent.
With Brendon’s track record of wiping out in every mountain bike ride he has done thus far, he did not have much hope for this descent, which we were warned about in the race briefing. There were one or two close calls with overhanging trees in the road, giving Brendon some more unwanted flashbacks of Yzerfontein. There were one or two “rock gardens” which were negotiated fairly well until our fun was haltered as Kevin hit a sharp rock and picked up a pinch flat.
Two minutes later, after plugging the holes, we were off again having only two teams come past us. Luckily for us the road flattened out with a nice smooth gravel surface and we were able to get into roadie mode and pull back some time. We even got to drop into a short section of single track near finish line in preparation for tomorrow, where a lot more single track is on the cards!
We ended the day in 5th position in the team category in a time of 1:53! This moves us up to 6th overall on GC (teams). Thanks again to the Sponsors Buco, the event organizers for a great day of MTB racing, fantastic food and beverages at the venue, as well as the bike mechanic station. We were in and out of the service station with Kevin’s new tyre and ready for the final day tomorrow!