The Chas Everitt Around the Pot Gravel race took place on 20 July 2019 and offered various options in distance from the shorter 25 and 60 miler options to the showcase 100 miler distance. You can enter as a solo rider or as a team and offered something for every type of rider. It is gravel bike-friendly, in-fact even suits the gravel bikes more than MTB’s but it is advised to ride the bike you are most comfortable on.
Pure Savage had a team in there last year and they were back for more. Waldo and Malcolm took this opportunity as prep for Transbaviaans. It is perfect to see where the legs are at and to test the teamwork and communication in a race situation. A serving of a 100 miles of gravel and the rolling hills of the Overberg sprinkled on top for good measure, the day was set for some good hammer and nail action .
It is one mass start for each distance so very tough to see who are teams and who is riding solo. The beginning neutral zone out of town helps things settle and to organise the field with the racing snakes moving to the front. After the left turn off the N2 onto gravel, the race is on. It started quite mellow (or mellower than last year) with everyone trying to warm up properly. It was reading a balmy zero degrees on Waldo’s Garmin! The mellowness didn’t last long and things heated up quickly.
Soon there were only about 20 or so riders in the lead bunch. The Savages didn’t exactly know who were teams but after a while, they figured out there are 3 or 4 in this bunch. The pace was being set by the gravel bikes with the big gears and also Dr Mike Posthumus (on a MTB) with his big legs. The rolling hills were no joke and cresting each roller, one would just see another roller lurking ahead, going down you can rest and recover a bit, but it was all too brief as you are being met by another positive gradient.
The Specialized Stellenbosch team was unlucky with a puncture. They had to repair it and chase back. The Savages were just just hanging on and cresting every roller still with the bunch as a victory. The boys were currently being the nail and every roller with an increase in pace was another hit with the hammer. Eventually, the elastic snapped with about 5km to go to the ferry! It was damage control time and time to re-strategize.
This event is different from other events. The results work differently as it is not based on line-honours. Rider all start the same time but then stop their own clock at the Malgas Ferry. There is then a neutral zone and riders are allowed 45 minutes to start their own clock again, at the other side of the ferry, after using it to cross the Breede River. The Savages stopped their clock around 90 seconds after the other teams in the bunch.
There is a festival atmosphere here with the roosterkoek probably being the best thing you’ll ever eat. This water point is also stocked with biltong, bananas, potatoes, droewors and stuff to drink and refill bottles. Waldo was taking up all the space in front of the biltong and potato station while Malcolm was stuffing his pockets with droewors.
The Savages started their clock on the other side after the other teams and wanted to chase. But the coffee stop legs were still around. This was supposed to be something they are used to as frequent Bootlegger Coffee stops are common Pure Savage ride protocol. Maybe it was because no actual Bootlegger was consumed at this stop but the bunch went ahead, leaving Malcolm and Waldo on their own. They were riding their own pace and with 53km to go and being hammered it was going to be some effort to get back from this.
A steady rhythm was set by Waldo and the Savages were passing other solo riders who were still trying to hold the pace of the lead bunch and eventually popped. After about 30 minutes Malcolm mentioned he saw some riders up ahead and possibly a team that looked “wounded”. The racing snake in the boys awoke and hammers were drawn, they’ve been the nail for far too long and time to get swinging.
They worked really well as a team each taking turns to set the pace. It wasn’t long before they caught up with a stray which turned out to be Andreas Studer. With 3 now being able to work, the target was set to catch the team up ahead. It was Specialized Stellenbosch team and their bad luck with the puncture and having to burn too many matches had caught up with them.
With the 2 teams now together it still meant Specialized was in the lead as they stopped their clock at the ferry before the Savages. This meant they needed to take that time back from them and cross the finish line with more than that deficit to actually finish ahead. A quick strategy session while in the paceline it was decided Malcolm take the lead in the single track. The course turned left off the little bit of tar road the race covered onto some jeep track/single track and it was here they needed to make the move.
Malcolm and Waldo made sure they entered this section ahead of the others and Malcolm started swinging the hammer. No longer were the Savages going to be the nail and time to hit it. Waldo was hanging on for dear life as Malcolm used his XCO skills to navigate this section. This was an all too familiar site for Waldo as Malcolm was also the one leading the way in last years Transbaviaans.
They dropped the other team and kept going, it was all about putting more time into them. The maths needed to work as this was in essence now a time trial. They crossed the line and waited. The clock was ticking and with every second that went by the possibility was there for the boys to beat them. At the time they did not know how much time was needed but official times would later reveal that the guys took second place by around 3 and a half minutes in total which meant a gain of 5 minutes in this last move!
After updating Brendon and supplying him with social media content. Showers were had and the boys enjoyed their complimentary burgers. The well-organized prize-giving was the cherry on the top after a very tough yet successful day for the boys. Transbaviaans here we come!
Final teams results:
1. Team Madmacs (5:36:59)
2. Pure Savage (5:38:37)
3. Specialized Stellenbosch (5:42:07)