8pm Thursday 25th April 2013
Busy day today, we ventured back into Johannesburg for sign on, the journey itself was pretty interesting, Tim didn’t particularly enjoy negotiating the chaotic rush hour traffic in our palatial campervan. Once we arrived at the Fire & Ice Hotel we did several laps of the block trying to find a suitably big parking space, eventually we gave up and resorted to pleading with the security guard outside the hotel to let us park up right in front of the entrance, VIP parking, sweet!
Registration was in full swing with the 5* hotel full of eager cyclists and bikes were propped up all around the reception area. Registration complete, freebie bag collected, Dan’s and the campervans accreditation collected. It was then time to drive to the race start to rekey the start of day 1. On arrival though we thought best not to leave the campervan in the middle of a field next to a busy main road unattended in a slightly dodgy area.
We drove back to the campsite to find a herd of dears vacating our parking space, they quickly fled though as we got closer. We ended up riding from the campsite, we found a good route to start with along gravel roads but couldn’t turn it into a loop so had to ride back along the way we’d ridden out on. All the same 22 degrees, no clouds in the sky, it was a fun ride and opened up the legs before we start stage 1 of Joberg2c tomorrow.
A couple of days ago we found a little kitten meowing in a bush close to where we’d parked at the campsite, this afternoon the kitten visited us. The words “what harm can it do” when Dan asked Tim whether they should give the kitten some milk turns now ring in our ears. Well let me tell you this little cutie turned out to be a right pain! It rejected the milk but made us its best friend, constant meowing quickly turned into an annoyance and as this evening approached we realised we’d have to vacate our camping space! This wasn’t so easy though when the kitten had crept inside the campervans wheel rim and was ready to hold on like a hamster in a hamster wheel! We tried everything we could but it wouldn’t budge so the next step was to roll the van down the hill, a quarter rotation of the wheel and this thing was still hanging on, we were in fits of laughter. We didn’t want to hard the little kitten but couldn’t leave it in there as it was going to keep us awake all night. Eventually we did escape from the crazy meowing kitten, don’t worry though the kitten will be fine without us.
Last night we heard a pack of wolves howling nearby, I wonder what animals we’ll hear tonight, hopefully not the little meowing kitten.
1.30pm Friday 26 April 2013 - Stage 1
Stage 1 done and dusted, today was neutralised so we just cruised around the 116kms sitting in the lead group, enjoying the awesome feed zones, looking out for animals, and admiring the stunning scenery. A 5.30am start was required to down breakfast and make the journey to the start venue, Dan our mechanic particularly enjoyed the early wake up, something he’ll have to get used to unfortunately as each stage now starts at 7am. On the start line the television helicopter pilot showed us his skills flying sideways at speed just above the start line arch.
The opening singletrack trail was a good taste of what will follow in the next few days, the trail was loose and rocky, there were 2 line choices which split and the top and didn’t rejoin until the bottom of the hill 4 kilometres later! The rest of the day was flat fireroads or double track trails through nature reserves and around the Vaal Dam.
The feed zones out on course were pretty amusing, everything from tasty pastries and pancakes, to meat cooked on the bbq! Today there was time to enjoy these sweet treats, tomorrow I doubt the lead group will be so sociable. We met plenty of people today out on the course, everyone was really friendly and there was always someone to have a chat with. The organisers are great as well, Wappo and Kelly are really making us feel welcome.
After about 70kms we had to cross a big river so rather than taking us across a bridge we had to dismount our bikes and climb aboard dragon boats, once 3 dragon boats were full with roughly 15 participants in each we had a little race across the river which was pretty good fun.
We ended up leaving the final feed zone earlier that most and ended up in a group of 6 at the front, although today doesn’t count towards the overall classification it was pretty special to roll into the finish town with the locals lining the road and cheering, the TV helicopter hovering over us, and the commentator announcing our names. Hopefully we can repeat or get somewhere close to this in the next 8 days of real racing.
More scrumptious food followed at lunch time in the huge food hall, apparently for dinner we are getting the best steak we’ve ever eaten, sounds good to me!
Itec Connect who’ve sponsored us for this race have been awesome so far, really helpful and supper motivating, hopefully we can pay them back with some good racing.