Showing posts with label Mountain bike. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mountain bike. Show all posts

Thursday 16 August 2018

Posted by Velouria Posted on 15:27 | No comments

TransBaviaans 2018

It has been said that time heals all wounds, and on the Friday before the start of the 2018 TransBaviaans, I would have agreed with these wise words. But when we got to registration and realised that, in my 15th Baviaans, we would be starting in the unseeded cattle pen, all the disappointment and unhappiness from 2017 came flooding back. Hector the Memory Resurrector.

It's all laughs and giggles until you realise you're not seeded.
There are clearly two tiers at Baviaans, the race snakes and the rest. The race snakes get to start at the front, they get to hear the loudspeakers, the national anthem, and the race briefing. They get a clear run from the gun down an open road and off into the Baviaanskloof. Meanwhile, the unseeded are crammed into the back of a parking lot like cows in a pen. It's cramped, it's noisy, and it's smelly. Really really smelly. There is nothing as toxic as the contents of portaloo at the start of a bicycle race. And where are the portaloos situated? Amongst the riders in cattle class. And to make matters worse, there was a stream of blue toilet juice steadily leaking from one of the portaloos and pooling in the centre of the start pen. And it was in this very puddle of blue toilet juice that Captain Craig and I found ourselves as we waited for the start. We'd done our best to push our way as far forward as possible, much to the annoyance of those around us. Yes, - we were those guys. Captain Craig was even confronted by a Camelbak wearing fellow bike rider:
"Stop pushing through - we're competitive too"
to which he replied with a sly grin:
"Yeah, but not as competitive as us"
With much fanfare, the gun finally went off. There was shouting and cheering and the sound of motorbikes disappearing down the main road as they led the seeded riders off towards the Kloof. From our stationary spot in the blue toilet juice, we couldn't actually see any of this. For three minutes we imagined what was going on up front - the jostling for positions, the gnashing of teeth - as the race snakes set off for JBay. And finally, we started moving. A slow crawl at first, followed by a gentle Saturday cruise down through the back roads of Willowmore as we ducked and dived through riders. Masses and masses of riders. While we didn't realise it at the time, we were in for a definite salmon day.

I doubt anyone got service like this!
The conditions for TransBaviaans are a topic of conversation that starts several weeks in advance of race day. Both the conditions of the road surface, which can vary from glass-smooth, to as bumpy as a rural road in the Eastern Cape (oh, wait), and the weather conditions. While there isn't much we can do to prepare for the road conditions apart from grumble on social media, we certainly can prepare for the weather conditions. Captain Craig and I must have had more costume changes before the start than a beauty pageant contestant. A weather forecast of 3 degrees meant that we started in thick arm and knee warmers, an undershirt and a gilet, before switching to thin knee and arm warmers as the sun started climbing in the sky. Next to go was the undershirt. And soon the knee warmers were off completely, and we were applying sunscreen. (Mental note - next time apply sunscreen under the arm warmers too!)

Like most events that Captain Craig and I do together, we had formulated a rock-solid strategy beforehand. Given the fact that we were probably not going to get too much help from our fellow "competitive" riders from the cattle pen, we were going to ride at a steady pace, keep out of trouble, and just bide our time for the first 100 kilometres. And like most events that Captain Craig and I do together, as soon as the wheels start turning, the strategy goes out the window. We had targets to chase. So many targets. And Captain Craig was in a target-hunting mood!

I'd spent my days before TransBaviaans within 50 feet of a toilet at all times, and it was with this same determination and commitment that I stayed at least 20 feet from the front of any bunches that we found ourselves in. And when we weren't in a bunch, Captain Craig was doing all chasing. We'd reel a bunch in, Captain Craig would look over his shoulder and tell me that this was the perfect bunch - we could just sit in here. And then he'd disappear off the front and I'd have to chase him down. Over and over again.

Cyclists are shameless and chivalry in the peloton is dead. For kilometre after kilometre, as we chased onto a group containing the leading ladies, we watched as 15 guys wheelsucked the ladies, not offering a single turn on the front. I shamelessly joined the wheelsuckers at the back, while Captain Craig went straight to the front and took a few massive turns driving the pace - a knight in shining armour.

The next two hours flew by. The legs felt good. I was in control of my bodily functions, and the bikes were working perfectly. But the real start of Baviaans was about to begin. The climbing. First up was Baboons Back, a climb that sits perfectly in my Goldilocks zone. And it always helps when your partner is going through a bad patch. We made it over without too many issues, whizzed down the other side and flew through the next checkpoint. A highlight of TransBaviaans for Captain Craig is always the long river crossing that awaits just after Checkpoint 3. He's finished Baviaans 9 times, and he's ridden the river crossing 9 times without putting a foot down. So imagine my surprise when I look up and see him half submerged under his bike, absolutely soaked. Captain Craig living up to our team name of The Soggy Bottom Boys. (The Soggy Everything Boys).

Captain Craig, moments after a Soggy Bottom moment!
Our backup this year was once again Last Minute Charles, and on the road trip from Cape Town to Willowmore he'd asked us if we ever don't look forward to a bike ride. Particularly one like Baviaans. And my answer was yes. For me, it's usually the week before a big event that has me questioning my sanity, my love for bike riding, and my addiction for long bike rides. It's during this week that you recall the finer details of events. Not just the euphoria of finishing, or the sense of achievement after a good result. The other details - the searing pain in the legs up a steep climb. The discomfort of sitting on a saddle for nine hours. The corrugations rattling every bone in your body. The dust in your eyes. The infinite depth of the hole you're in when you're going through a bad patch. And yet, there I was, coming back for my 15th edition of this race. A cyclist himself, Last Minute Charles just smiled and nodded understandingly.

Back on the bike, we flew over The Fangs and started my nemesis - The Mother of All Climbs. While I've had some good years, I've also had some rather dismal ones. I have punctured going up this climb. I have walked up this climb. I have vomited all over this climb. And I have bonked spectacularly several times. I was determined that this year would be a good year. We both felt rather fresh. We were riding quite smoothly, and I thought we were climbing quite well. Until, for the second time that day, the leading ladies came flying past us looking fresher and smoother. We'd like to say that we were actively managing the gap between us, but the truth is that Sarah and Theresa dropped us like a sack of potatoes. Again.

Relive 'My 15th Trans Baviaans'

Undeterred, we made the checkpoint in good spirits (I'm always in good spirits if I can make Bergplaas without needing to vomit) and quickly went about our business. Lights, snacks, juice, and in Captain Craig's case, some new dry kit. As we hit the start of the downhill, we encountered our first real snag of the day. My light came loose as we went over a small bump and went flying into the bushes at the side of the road. A couple of hundred metres further and it would have gone flying down the side of a mountain - never to be seen again. A quick stop, a frantic search under the bushes, some running repairs and we were back on the go, continuing our descent, both literally and figuratively.

My son gave me a plaster before the race, and specifically chose the one with snails on. What's he trying to say?
My first bad patch started as we finished the descent, and like a limpet, I spent the next 10 minutes glued to Captain Craig's wheel, doing everything I could to find some energy and recover. And like a trooper, Captain Craig just sat on the front setting a solid steady pace. Just as my legs were coming back, Captain Craig's legs started to fade, and it was my turn set the pace while he frantically searched for some legs. We rolled into the next checkpoint a little battered and beaten, but aware that we had just one climb ahead of us. The NeverEnder.

Last Minute Charles was waiting for us at the checkpoint. And he had pancakes. I grabbed one, and with the grace of a diesel mechanic doing keyhole surgery, I stuffed that pancake into my face. This was going to get me over The NeverEnder! We filled bottles, got some lube and we were on the go again, only to be passed by the leading ladies. AGAIN. And again, I could say that we managed the gap, but by this time it would be an absolute lie. We had nothing. It was possibly this situation that triggered a series of events would have me questioning why it is I ride this race. Again.

One last hill to go.
As the ladies disappeared off into the distance, Captain Craig offered me a pancake. He'd taken two from Last Minute Charles, and could probably read my mind at that point. So I took it. And devoured it. But the thing is, I'm not a big eater when cycling, and here I was stuffing two pancakes into my belly. All went well as we climbed The NeverEnder. It wasn't easy, but we were making decent progress, despite the fact that I was starting to re-taste that second pancake more and more. But I'd done everything right up until then - I was still convinced that I would overcome this minor hurdle. How wrong I was. As we hit the top of the climb I started to think about a strategic vomit. A preemptive purge before things got any worse. And, as if by command, the floodgates opened.

There are two types of cyclists. Those that can do a snot rocket while riding and those that can't. I'd like to add a new category. The select few that can do a vomit comet while remaining on the bike. While I'm no expert in this, and I may have got a few stray splashes on my leg, I feel that my new found skill will certainly come in handy in future TransBaviaans events.

With my stomach now empty, my legs started to fade too, and my next challenge was to get the timing right as to when to take an energy gel. Take it too early, and it was going to come flying straight out again. Take it too late, and the full bonk would have arrived and my legs would have fallen off completely. I might have waited a little longer than absolutely necessary, but I wasn't in the mood for wasting a gel.

We had planned a quick stop at the final checkpoint - quickly grab something to eat, turn on the lights, and speed off to Jeffrey's Bay. But, as is usually the case, our ability to stick to our plans let us down. While Captain Craig put on his quick attaching light, I was going to grab half a jaffle (you haven't lived until you've had a Checkpoint 7 jaffle!). I still had a bit of negotiating to do with the stomach demons, but the jaffle was going down a treat. I half expected to have to stuff my face and get out of there, but Captain Craig's light was taking a little longer than expected. So I had another half of a jaffle. And still Captain Craig struggled, grunting commands through the jaffle dangling from his mouth. I now know after the fact that
"I need someone to shine a light on my bars so that I can get this bloody light attached".
After several teams had arrived and departed through the checkpoint (missing out on jaffles), we finally got going again, in our usual formation, Captain Craig on the front.

Number 10 and 15 respectively
All of a sudden I was seeing lights! Aliens?! Angels?! The end of the universe?! My porridge brain slowly tried to make sense of the bright light shining in my face as I did my best to not fall off my bike. I eventually figured out that I wasn't being abducted, but it was, in fact, Captain Craig's light that was now shining directly in my face! As I rode behind him. Captain Craig stopped and fixed his light, while I tried desperately to regain some sort of night vision. Some cursing and swearing later and we were on our way again, the lights of Jeffrey's Bay beckoning. And then we stopped again. For Captain Craig's light. And then we were going again. And then we stopped again. For Captain Craig's light, And finally, we were going again.

The last obstacle between us and beer on the finish line was the dreaded railway line. In my many years of cycling, every time there is a railway line involved, bad memories are usually made. Cape Epic 2010 Stage 1. Every 36One. Lost bottles and punctures outside Robertson at the Double Century. Every Cape Epic that finished over the Gantouws Pass. And well entrenched on that list is TransBaviaans. By the time we hit the railway line, my sense of humour has completely failed and I'm seriously considering another sport or hobby. Stand up paddle boarding. Birdwatching. Or freestyle crocheting. But Captain Craig is always solid on this section, convinced we can still catch the leaders if we ride fast enough, and while we missed the leaders by about an hour and a half, we did manage to catch one team that looked to be having a far worse day than us.

We crossed the line to the welcoming sight of Last Minute Charles, warm clothes, a Darling Brew, and Spur burgers. Captain Craig had finished his 10th Baviaans, I had done my 15th, with The Soggy Bottom Boys finishing in 9h20 in 19th place. #Top20IsTheNewTop10. Will we be back? Most definitely!

Tuesday 31 July 2018

Posted by Velouria Posted on 12:17 | No comments

Around the Pot 2018

It's not often that a race comes along that has the ability to fill one with such emotion. Not the "Why-did-I-enter-this-race-I'm-going-to-die" sort of emotion - we'll get to that later - the "I-don't-want-to-tell-anyone-about-this-event-because-it's-amazing" selfishness that filled us after last year's race. This is a bike riding event run by people who get bike riding. Things just work. Everyone is a rock star. And there is a burger and beer at the finish.

Dane the Limpet
The selfishness comes in that with the inevitable growth of an event, the very things that make an event unique are lost as the event scales. So I tried not to tell anyone about The Around The Pot 100 Miler. But someone spoke, breaking the secret pact we'd all sworn to keep and come race day this year, registration was mass of race snakes, weekend warriors, endurance addicts and sufferfest seekers. And their families. And their friends.

My first concern was that there were real bike racers in attendance this year, and it wouldn't be a procession to the podium like the previous year. And then I worried about the things that brought us back. Were there going to be roosterkoek at the halfway point? And choc chip cookies at the water points? And a cool vibe at the finish? We'd find out in the 160kms that lay before us.

Dane the Yo-Yo
As usual, Captain Craig and I rolled up to the start line minutes before the gun went. Not because we were trying to be cool and act all pro-like, but because our time management skills tend to be a little haphazard. We needn't have worried, as the motor-paced session through the neutral zone from the previous year had been replaced with a looking-for-parking cruise down the N2. Slow enough to not warm up, and fast enough for 400 mountain bikers to think they were World Tour roadies riding in a peloton, but with the bike and bunch skills of the Open seeded group at a local PPA race.

Thankfully, it wasn't long before we hit the dirt, and all hell exploded. SchleckChute's being deployed all over the place and before long the front group consisted of just a handful of lean, mean, muscled athletes. And me. I haven't felt so out of place in a long while. Not because I wasn't lean, mean or muscled, but because I was hanging onto wheels like my life depended on it, gasping through my gaping mouth, snot dripping off my face, while it looked like everyone else was still nose breathing. Now I knew exactly what Hector felt like last year.

As I dangled off the back, steam coming out of my ears, Captain Craig had an important job to fulfil. No sitting on the front and pulling everyone along this year. He was on rescue duty - every time the bunch accelerated over a climb, I'd slip off the back, and Captain Craig would have to slowly but surely guide me back on. Only for it to happen again. And again.

Captain Craig on rescue duty
Things eventually settled down when a select bunch rode off the front, and I was finally able to follow the wheels, rather than chase them. I was that guy. The wheelsucker. The limpet. The bike rider who sits in the slip, avoids the front at all costs and offers no help. Not because I didn't want to help. I just couldn't.

I'd like to say that I found a set of legs and that I started to come right and ride a little better, but there was very little change in my riding. Instead, it seemed like the others were starting to fade. Starting to enter my world. Little signs of weakness here and there - a gap opening over the top of a climb, one partner giving the other a gentle push back onto the bunch. Even Captain Craig would disappear for a secret gel at the back of the bunch every now and then. It was these little signs that gave me hope and got me to hang on a little longer. Knowing those around you are suffering too almost makes the suffering bearable.

The pont
With almost a hundred kilometres done we got to the part of this race that makes it so unique. The checkpoint at the Malgas Pont. And this is where prior knowledge comes in handy. The clock stops as you enter the checkpoint, and starts once again once you've crossed the river and checked back in. And since it didn't look like we were going to be able to ride away from the other teams in the group, we were going to have to be sneaky in order to gain time. So we zipped into the checkpoint before the other teams, gaining a handful of seconds. While everyone else was enjoying the ceasefire in hostilities as they filled their water bottles and their bellies, waiting for the pont, Captain Craig and I were hatching a master plan. After crossing the river, we'd hang near the back and give the bunch a handful of seconds headstart. We reckoned 30 seconds would be good enough to defend, and easy enough to close once the race was on again. Except we made one little mistake.

Smiling, moments before telling The Thighs of Thunder our plan
We happened to share our plan with Mike Posthumus - the original Thighs of Thunder, Destroyer of Drivetrains and Crusher of Souls. An ally like that would make our plan almost foolproof. Except we messed up. We changed the plan to accommodate Monster Mike and his ample thighs, and before we knew it, we were giving the bunch 2 minutes and committing ourselves to "just 30 minutes of effort, through and off". And if there is one thing that is guaranteed to make me pop, it's riding through and off.

Mike "Thighs of Thunder" Posthumus
Everything went well for about 15 minutes, as five lonely riders attempted to claw their way back to the bunch that was no longer visible up the road. We each took our turn for the greater good, driving the pace on, urging the legs for more. In my head, warning lights were flashing, sirens were blaring. Meltdown was imminent. There was about to be a reactor breach, followed by a massive explosion. I took one last look at the Thighs of Thunder before finally deploying my SchleckChute in an attempt to minimise the devastation and destruction. And within seconds, Captain Craig had done the same as he embraced his new responsibilities of looking after me. Whether he could have hung onto the Destroyer of Drivetrains' wheel is a debate for another time, but it felt good knowing that I had company.

My Not-So-Happy place

As we backed off, my legs came back to me, and rather surprisingly I found myself repaying Captain Craig's earlier efforts in looking after me. The Cape Cycling Tours Train was back, and we started to make good progress, occasionally picking up a rider or two from the bunch that we'd long since given up on, but never caught sight of any of the other teams that we were racing.

With the finish line looming, I burnt my final match and any hope of salvaging our sneaky plan seemed to vanish completely. I hastily gulped down a gel, hoping for one final miracle before we crossed the line. And it happened! Just as my legs were coming back, we caught sight of the Pure Savage guys ahead of us. Perhaps there was something to race for after all. Something to make the suffering and pain all worth it. With one final push, we drove towards the line, embracing the burn in our legs, hoping beyond all hope that we had done enough.

Yoki the Yeti, looking a little worse for wear. Just like me.
We crossed the line to little fanfare - we were forth on the road, but the time gaps still needed to be calculated. And eventually we got the word - we hadn't made it onto the podium. The fleeting hope we had was quickly replaced with disappointment, and annoyance as our plan had been solid, we'd just messed up the execution of it.

When the final results were published the next day we noticed an anomaly. We weren't on the results. Anywhere (given that I'd ridden in my wife's cycling top by mistake, I even checked the mixed team results). A couple of emails back and forth between the organisers and the timekeepers and they eventually found us - in third place in the men's team competition. A bittersweet reward for a poorly executed masterful plan.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Posted by Velouria Posted on 17:02 | No comments

Trans Baviaans 2010

The annual Trans Baviaans bike race from Willowmore to Jeffery's Bay saw The Soggy Bottom Boys reuniting for another stab at the 230km mountain bike route. While we tend to get on quite well as a team, there are always several areas that cause a little added tension. Inevitably, the first point of concern is the team name, and like most things in life, people are very quick to criticise, but rather slow in offering any alternatives. Having had to endure names like The Soggy Bottom Boys, The Tartrollips etc, John was eager to give us a name that we could be proud of. Unfortuantely, the best he could come up was
As benevolent dictator for life of the Baviaans team, I could not possibly accept such half hearted attempts. And I certainly took offence at being labelled a whiner (I also wasn't quite sure who the weight watcher was). Since we were going to be two 29ers, I thought "Little John and his Merry Men" was quite fitting (and as it turned out, a little prophetic too). 

After many years of great service from our usual seconder, Bonte, we welcomed a new guy to the team - Freddie.  Freddie is an avid mountain biker with some good results, a blog, a broken bicycle, and an Epic entry. We still  aren't quite sure why he volunteered to put up with us, but whatever his motivation, he did a great job.
It looks downhill, but it really isn't
We spent the night in the local school's hostel and after the mattress thievery of last year we had been promoted to real beds in a corner room. Luxury. Apart from the odd bit of faffing and fiddling with bikes and equipment, we all got a good night's sleep and were well rested for the race. I had organised the tops, and since I know how much John (and his wife) likes tight yellow tops I had a special treat for him. I reckon we could have gotten him to wear it with a little bit of persuasion. Our real kit were the trusty tops.
Sexy in yellow
With everything packed, we said farewell to Freddie, and would see him again 8 hours later near Patensie. We were a little better organised this year, and managed to get quite close to the front of the start pen, where we proceeded to do the usual pre-race suss of the potential competition. This is an art that we have perfected over the years. Look at the bike, look at the rider, look at his legs, look at his kit, look for a camelback, look for accessories on the bike. Repeat as many times as required.
The area we were riding in
At ten o'clock we got underway and made good progress riding fast, but not too fast. Imagine our surprise then when we rounded a corner to see a bunch ahead of us, and then nothing in front of them. Could that be the leading bunch? I have never even seen the lead bunch at Baviaans before, so this was rather special. It got even better when we realised that we were catching the lead bunch without too much effort. In fact, it looked like they were freewheeling. We eventually rode onto the back of the bunch, and were quite surprised at the lack of pace, and so, before too long, Little John and his Merry Men had two riders on the front of the bunch, both on 29ers, leading the Trans Baviaans race. A dropped chain had Craig and I off the back, but we quickly rejoined and went straight back to the front.

We led the bunch into Checkpoint 1, got some juice and coke, and were out in a flash. Just as the bunch was reforming I heard the sickening sound of air escaping from a tyre. A quick check to make sure it wasn't my tyres (and lots of relief) before looking at Craig. He had a hole in his rear tyre, but we quickly plugged and bombed it and were back up to speed in no time, and in the bunch shortly after that.

The pre race fiddle and faff
For the next 60kms, Little John and his Merry Men set the pace - Craig being a bit of a TV slut and riding off the front on his own, with the rest of us following. Nelly, my 29er, was certainly proving her worth and was making short work of the rolling hills. With the bunch starting to swell a little, I decided that Craig had showed off enough and started to close the gap to him. The immediate effect was that the bunch went from about 15 teams down to 7. Not only were Little John and his Merry Men in the lead bunch, we were making the racing and lead everyone into Checkpoint 2. We knew our time at the front was now up, as the hills now lay ahead of us, and the 29ers aren't the quickest up the climbs.

With the temperature getting up to 33C we started the first big climb of the day, riding a good pace with everyone still looking good. We crossed the summit of the climb together, although the same cannot be said about reaching the bottom of the descent together, my descending skills still letting me down. Checkpoint 3 awaited us, and after some sosaties, potatoes and coke we set off for the Mother Of All Climbs up to Bergplaas and Checkpoint 4. 
I like the guy in green checking us out
A motorcycle marshal told us we were just five minutes behind the leaders which surprised us a little. As we started the early slopes of the M.A.C., I started to feel a little funny. Something wasn't right. My legs felt ok, but my heart rate was slowly climbing, and my stomach was starting to act up. I hoped it was nothing serious, something that a good burp would solve, and I could be on my way, but as I progressed the feeling in my stomach got worse and worse. Thinking it was dehydration I tried to drink more, but each time the aches got worse. Thankfully, I spotted a water tank on the side of the road from the recent road works on the M.A.C. and after a quick check found it to be full of fresh water. I only managed to get one gulp down before the evacuation order was given and all evil was told to leave my body. I never knew evil was bright orange with bits of potato in it, but I certainly felt better after the purge. One or two vehicles came past me as I was ridding my body of evil, and so as not to show any sign of weakness, I pretended to be doing some stretches. I filled my bottle with water, hopped on my bike and was back on way.

Cool calm and collected
My team mates had deserted me before my exorcism, and Craig must have been a little worried as he came back to find me and offer a bit of assistance. Nothing was more welcome than the short push he gave me up to Checkpoint 4. I grabbed the other elixir of life (tea is the original elixir of life) - coke - and downed a whole bottle, had some snacks and was ready to go. We flew down th Big Dipper, some of us a little slower than others and eventually got back onto 29er turf - flatlands and rolling hills. Eager to make up for my bad showing on M.A.C. (again), I tried to help out as much as possible with the pace setting. We were still doing extremely well - at least an hour ahead of our previous best, and sitting in 7th place overall. In the past we have always arrived at Checkpoint 5 as the sun sets, but this year we rolled into the checkpoint in broad daylight.
Freddie at work

Freddie was there to welcome us, and was exceptionally organised. He had convinced his family to join him in supporting 3 sweaty, smelly, strangers. We got naartjies, juice, water, potatoes and all our goodies laid out neatly on a blanket. I needed to take a Gu, and inevitably this is followed by some gagging and dry heaving as I struggle to convince my stomach that the Gu is not evil, and very much required, so I had to put on a brave face and conceal any gagging for Freddie's family. I am not too sure how well I succeeded.

Back on the road, we had the last big climb of the route left - The Never Ender. This climb got its name from the fact that usually you end up climbing it at night, and because of all the twists and turns, can never see the top. It feels like you are going up hill for ever. However, in the daylight, it is a much different experience, and rather pretty. We made good progress again, my legs were feeling strong, although there were some cramps about, but nothing that a bit of teeth clenching couldn't solve. My stomach was still a little dubious, but we had reached a compromise - I would't give it any more energy juice, if it promised to accept a Gu or two. As the sun set, we finally got to use our lights that we had been carrying since Checkpoint 4, and not long afterwards, we arrived at Checkpoint 7. (Alert readers will have noticed that I skipped a checkpoint there - checkpoint 6 was an unmanned checkpoint not really worth a mention).
Jeffery's Bay - our Siren
Freddie and his family saw to our requests once again, and we were off - the lights of Jeffery's Bay just over the horizon and calling us like Sirens - we just hoped there would be no crashing into rocks. Despite the tired legs and fragile stomach we pushed hard, keeping the pace high and making full use of the 29ers. As the brightness of the lights of Jeffery's increased, so too did our white line fever. Little John and his Merry Men were flying, and we crossed the line in 9h25 - in seventh place. We were over an hour faster than our previous best time.
Smiles all around
Freddie was there to welcome us with beer. It is such a pity that he wants to ride Trans Baviaans next year. Hopefully he can pass on his expert knowledge to a worthy recipient.

Little John and his Merry Men, and seconder extraordinaire Freddie
We were a little lost at having finished so early - in previous years it was simple - you ate, showered and went to bed, but we had loads of time to kill, and not that much to eat, so we ended up watching The Guru on TV before finally going to bed on what had been a fantastic day's racing. 
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