Det har varit fantastiska dagar på Joburg2C, håll till godo med den engelska rapporten:-) En översättning kanske kommer inom kort:-)
Joburg2C must be one of the best MTB stage races in the world, the routes are breath taking and at the same time the technical parts are all rideable!! As mountainbikers wants it! Thank you to Farmer Glen, Gary, Wopper and the wives for organizing something like this and a huge thank you to Old Mutual for sponsoring the event and also this year sponsoring me and Craig and making it possible for us to get this experience!
We almost missed the plane from Cape Town when we got stuck in the morning rush traffic after the taxi driver had waited at the wrong address. All went smooth when we got to Johannesburg and the Avis bus took us and the luggage to Melrose Arch and the Fire and Ice hotel for registration and also our stay for the night. It was a busy afternoon with registration, getting our kit, putting the bikes together and buying the last stuff for the 9 days to come.
Excited and a bit nervous before the start:-)
Day 1: Heidelberg – Frankfurt 116km
It was a bit chaotic when 100 cyclists had breakfast at a hotel at 5.30 in the morning, don’t think the staff was prepared for that many riders at the same time! The Avis bus picked us up again and took us to the start in Heidelberg. The first day is a neutral stage, so everyone just rides and chats to ease into the racing mode, it is a great day! The reason for an easy day is that we have to cross the Vaal river and we do that in Dragon boats, would be difficult to race this piece:-)
The river crossing in Dragon boats
Day 2, stage 1: Frankfurt – Reitz 92km
This race has grown since last year, from 500 riders to now 800 mountainbikers! The competition in the mixed category was very tough, there were many international pro’s that we raced against. It was Erik and Ariane Kleinhans (Switzerland) from the Re:CM team, Cathrin Williamsson (England) and Jarryd Haley from Bizhub – Rocky Mountain, Jane Nüssli (Brittish Marathon Champ) and Yves Corminboeuf from the BMC international pro team, Antonia Wipfli and Jauch Patrick (Switzerland) from Team Gisler, Aurelie Halbwachs (Mauritius Olympic cyclist) and Danny Vogel (Germany) of team Itec mixed and also not to forget Robyn De Groot, SA Olympic road cyclists that road with her dad.
It was a fast start on a gravel road full of pot holes until we hit the first single track. We got on the track as the 4th mixed team. After a small fall on a rocky section we found ourselves in a bunch containing team Gisler and Robyn as well as the first ladies team. We rode together in this bunch on the open roads until we hit the Red Bull run, a new race within the race where a technical section was timed on its own. Team Gisler got away on a shorter uphill just before and we got away from Robyn and her dad. Shortly after the downhill run I turned around and could not see Craig. I slowed down and another rider told me that he had punctured. I rode slowly passed the wolf sanctuary and had a look at rare animals. Craig came back together with Robyn and we just managed to get over the line ahead of them in 5th place.
Day 3, stage 2: Reitz – Sterkfontein dam 131km
I went to our mechanics early in the morning to collect my bike only to find aback wheel puncture , of course it made me a bit nervous, they pumped it and checked the valve and said it was fine, I was still not convinced… We had a good start and felt strong today, and after 10km I felt the back tyre get very soft and stopped to find the back wheel almost empty. We bombed it and got going again. We raced very hard to catch the group we belonged in where we found the first 3 ladies teams and 3 other mixed teams, only to sit there for 10 minutes before my back wheel was too soft again!! It was mostly open roads at this part of the stage and definitely where you wanted to sit in a bunch. So when we caught part of the bunch again after 70km I was finished. The last 60km was tough since I was so tired and climbing Mt Paul to get to Old Mutual Joburg2C’s highest point at 1990 meters above sea level, was a very long climb for me. I still loved the Red Bull run on the way down on the other side, that day I wished the race had only been downhill single tracks, so much fun!!
The highlight at Sterkfontein Dam is the dessert table after lunch, it is great to see after the longest day of the whole race!
Start of the Red Bull run on Day 3! Amazing!!
Day 4, stage 3: Sterkfontein Dam – Winterton 121km
This day is my favorite of all the days! Early in the race is a rocky climb that follows by a great single track, and that is just the beginning of the day. After a short gravel road section we get on to the single track that takes us up to the escarpment and “Great wall my china”, there is some truth in the sign saying “Don’t pass on the right” since there is a few hundred meters drop off there, the view is spectacular!!! From there we drop down Sollie’s folly, one of the best single tracks I have ever ridden!! And it is fast:-)
We dropped team Gisler on the way down only to see them on a single track below us, we must have gone wrong and when we caught up with the route they were just ahead. We passed them and rode together for a while but suddenly I turned around and could not see Craig, I carried on to the water point with team Gisler but waited there and saw them ride off. While I was waiting Itec mixed passed and finally Craig came, his chain had gotten stuck and he had to take a tool out to get it loose again. We caught Itec and rode with them up Spionkop, a rediculously steep cement hill but it is all rewarding on the amazing single tracks down, this is also where we found todays Red Bull run, and we also dropped the Itec team. This is the mountainbikers nirvana, actually, maybe this was the best single track ever, it is a tight between the 2 down hills today!
Before we got to the finish we had one more single track to do, up this time, the Puffadder. It was a hard stage and very tired legs that arrived in Winterton, the massage hurt today!
A beautiful start of Day 4!
Day 5, stage 4: Winterton – Kamberg (Glengary) 98km
I did a beginners mistake this morning and was way too far back in the bunch as we started, already after 2km we turned in to a narrow gravel road and it was narrow for a very long time and no place or time to pass. So when we hit the long single track one could only stay in the spot one was in… We were together with team Gisler without seeing the other 3 teams. When we got to the first water stop we decided not to stop but team Gisler did. After just a few kilometers we saw team BMC and caught up with them and rode together for a while. Team Gisler also caught up and we were all together and we also saw the bunch with the 2 leading mixed teams as we turned in to the Game reserve. But that was where my energy faded and we lost them all. With 15km to go it was time for our daily mechanical when Craigs crank bolts came loose and he had to stop and tighten them… We came in 5th again.
Beautiful around Kamberg!
This is where I wanted to put some of our tent neighbours...:-)
Day 6, stage 5: Kamberg – Hazeldean farm 90km
It was very cold in the morning and nice to start racing hard to get the body temperature up! This stage starts with 55km on gravel roads, we managed to sit in the bunch with all the top mixed teams for 32km until we started the first 6km climb of the day. We came to the “snow top farm” in 5th place, it was an incredable view from up there with the snow covered mountains in the back ground! We caught team BMC on the 13 km descend and when we had to walk across an ice cold river we also caught team Gisler. Once again they disappeared on the next long climb. We were just riding a steady pace up on the third long climb of the day and on the Red Bull section, which for the day was up instead of down, Jeannie and Martin Dreyer caught us. I was determind not to get beaten by them and put in a great effort a few kilometers from the end to end in 5th position once again.
Hazeldean farm is a beautiful place by the lake and it is only open for this occasion every year, it is a great privilege to get to stay here!!
A lot of people got sick during the 9 days, some got the stomach bug and a lot of people got the flu. I started to get a sore throat this evening and did not feel too great. I tried to get to bed early but it was difficult with all the snoaring and chatters around, a tent wall is just so thin;)
Craig trying to get warm in the morning of day 6.
Day 7, stage 6: Hazeldean farm (Underberg) – Mackenzie club 81km
This must have been the coldest morning during the whole race! My legs were numb when we started, I could hardly turn the pedals, it got better after a while and when we got to all the beautiful hand cut single tracks sore legs were all forgotten! There were some new single tracks since last year and even if I had done the floating bridge before I was still a bit nervous, what if I would fall in?;)
I felt good today and we were passing teams one by one and it felt really good, we were also not as far behind today as we had been the other days, even if we still came in 5th. It could also be that we were finally starting to come down to lower altitude… And of course we were starting to sniff the finish of this adventure!
Our home for 9 days!
Day 8, stage 7: Mackenzie club – Jolivet 104km
Day 8 of Joburg2c and day 2 of Sani2c has got the famous 18km downhill single track and it was as good as I remembered it from last year!! Absolutely awesome!! The start of the stage had changed from last year, the organisers had made it harder and it took a bit longer before we came to the really good single tracks. When we were getting closer I made sure to be at the front of our little bunch to have a clear run down, I managed to do so and Craig followed my wheel. After a glance at the amazing breath taking view it was time to concentrate on the single track, all rideable but if you went wrong you would go terribly wrong!! Half way down we caught team Gisler and a little later we caught up with Robyn. We rode a cat and mouse with the 2 teams for a while before they got away. With about 20km to go we caught up with Robyn again and rode together, they got away when I dropped my chain and we passed them at the water point, eventually they finished only 30 seconds behind us, we enjoyed the fight with them though:-)
This day is close to only single tracks with one long gravel road climb put in the middle, it was longer and harder than many expected so close to the finish of the race.
I was really happy that it was the last night in a tent tonight, I felt I was done with this camping life! Next time I want a camper;)
The never ending carrying of bags....
Day 9, stage 8: Jolivet – Scottburgh 84km
For the first time in our 9 day expedition it was overcast and windy in the morning, still no rain though! It was a fast start and once again the route was changed a bit since last year, to the harder! It was said to be a fast day and I guess it was but after 8 days of racing it still felt like a lot of effort to turn the pedals. As usual I get stronger when I can see the end in sight! I felt good on the single tracks and we rode together with team Gisler and Robyn for a bit but on some technical stuff we left them and managed to stay away for the stage to finally finish a step higher up in 4th place. We were afraid that we had lost it though when we missed a turn and went wrong on a single track and lost a few minutes.
It was a great sight to see the sea in front of us and we really rode to the sea since we even had to walk through some water about 100 meters from the finish line to really feel that we were in the sea!!
What a journey it has been! Thank you to the organizers, a huge thank you to Old Mutual for sponsoring us, thank you Focus for the bikes, thank you Continental for the tyres, thank you T-nutrients for the nutrition, thank you ASG for my helmet and glasses, and thank you all the riders who made this such a great race!
…and as we had packed the bikes it started raining…
But not so much thanks to Mango who only delivered our dirty bikes together with the wet shoes and clothes only 50 hours after we landed in Cape Town, not so nice!
Happy to have finished the 9 days!!