Wednesday 20 August 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 11:58 | 4 comments

Trans Baviaans #5

The fifth edition of the Trans Baviaans mountain bike race saw the revival of the Soggy Bottom Boys, much to the disgust of John, my partner from last year. Craig had managed to stay injury free for a whole year, and was finally able to join us in the 230km trip from Willowmore to Jeffry's Bay.

The weather reports had been messing with us all week, alternating from torrential downpours to sub-tropical bliss. As it turned out, we got something in between.

We made it to registration in Willowmore with minutes to spare, having had to wait for a very sub-standard meal in Oudtshoorn. With registration out of the way, we headed off across the road to the hostel where we were spending the night. The really serious cyclists had already gone to bed by the time we got there, and we received some dirty looks for the noise we made. The serious cyclists would have their revenge the next morning when they awoke before 6, and proceeded to make more than enough noise to ensure everybody was awake.

We did our usual pre-race thing - filling juice bottles, checking bikes, packing snacks etc, but Team Soggy Bottom Boys seemed quite relaxed (unlike the serious cyclists). A cold wind had started blowing, and after much consideration, we decided that arm warmers might be a good idea.

I love the tight top on John!

The race started at 10am, and we had 24 hours to get to the finish in Jeffry's Bay. Right away, we were greeted with an icy headwind on the long wide open rolling roads leading towards the Baviaans Kloof. I was in my element, as was Craig, and we quickly settled into a comfortable pace, towing John along as we caught and passed several bunches up the road. Eventually we were just five riders - the three Soggy Bottom Boys, and a chap with SA colours on his sleeve and his partner.

Much to John's disgust, it turned out that the guy in the SA colours is quite well known, and often appears in magazines, but is better known for his IronMan exploits. We were towing Raynard Tissink along, and doing some really serious damage to John's legs. Craig did ask for Raynard's autograph, but at John's insistence we had to let them go on ahead of us

We were making good time, considering the head wind, our lack of training, and total inability of the other riders to share the pacing. I had learned a valuable lesson last year about the consequences of not eating and keeping the energy supplies up. It was a lesson I did not want to repeat, and so I had been practicing my eating on the bike. And it worked a charm. A marmite sarmy every couple of hours kept me going. I wasn't going to repeat the mistakes of last year and have to walk up the big climb.

We got to the top of the Mother of All Climbs, and took about 20 minutes to sort ourselves out. John was tired of having a soggy bottom, and so changed all his kit. Craig and I just changed into some dry socks. We had some warm soup and some bread, put on our lights and were ready to race down the other side of the Mother of All Climbs (some quite a bit faster than others). On the descent, we got a pleasant surprise as around one corner two cars suddenly appeared, and the drivers seemed a little annoyed at having to move over for the cyclists.

The backup crew were hypnotised by a peacock

Back on the valley floor, with the sun slowly setting, and a beautiful full moon slowly rising we continued on our way to Kondomo - a campsite just outside Patensie, and our next check point. We were greeted by the bright luminous yellow figure of Yolanda screaming and cheering at the top of her voice. There had been a bet amongst some of the other seconders as to when their riders would arrive, and Yolanda won. We were happy to help out.

With John starting to look a little worse for wear, we quickly got some snacks, checked the bikes, and had a cup of hot chocolate. Bonte's mothering nature surfaced again, as she proceeded to force feed John oranges (bought in Patensie for the bargain price of R5 a pocket) whenever his mouth was empty. We all expected to see those oranges to make a reappearance later, but somehow John managed to keep them under control.

The next 7kms were on a flat bit of tar before we started the Never Ender. I was in my element. And to make things worse for John, I could see some flashy lights up ahead. In a straight line we quickly covered the 7km to the turn off to Humansdorp, and the start of the climb. John's biggest wish had been to ride the climb alone, with no flashy lights ahead of us. Unfortunately for him, his wish didn't come true, and there were plenty of targets up ahead for us to aim at. With John turning himself inside out, and getting the odd push from Craig we quickly caught and passed some of the flashy lights, and before we knew it, we were at the top of the NeverEnder, and almost at the next check point.

The lights of Jeffry's Bay were just visible over the horizon as we quickly crammed some food into John and set out to do the last 17kms. We now found ourselves in a 3 way race - the other teams had the advantage on the climbs, but on the flats and downs we would close the gap. With about 5 kms to go we were all neck and neck, with one last uphill ahead of us. Amazingly, John rode the those 5kms like a man possessed, and we managed to come in 2nd of our race within a race, in a time of 12:01 - and in 19th place.

The customary post race analysis

We were more than happy with our result - we had ridden far better than I ever thought we would. We had a nice warm shower, and sat down to have some real food and watch some of the other teams come in. Our backup team had done another superb job of looking after us, pitching the tents, taking awesome photos and encouraging us.

Bonte propping John up while letting his wife know that is made it - just

The next day Craig and I felt quite good, not too stiff or sore. John, on the other hand (Darren), was broken, and was ready to sell all his cycling stuff and take up crocheting.

As a parting gift, John did get his own back, and gave us all flu, although he claims it was the dodgy food at the world's worst restaurant in Oudtshoorn.

Will the Soggy Bottom Boys be back - I think so (but perhaps under a new name).


  1. Just for the record, Mr Tissink was drafting Me !

  2. I think that was the better place to be - those white pants of his were a little too see through for my liking!

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  4. you cant change your name! The Soggy Bottom Boys is an awesome name! That is if the name was of course taken from one of my favourite alltime movies... and not from a disgusting habit some cyclists have of dispensing with their bodily fluids...

    "I am a man of constant sorrow
    I've seen trouble all my day. "