Thursday, 9 May 2013

Final diary from Joberg2c 9 day stage race in South Africa

Sunday 5th May

On Wednesday I woke up with a virus, a fair few people were getting ill mid race, including the race doctor! Team Contego lost 2 hours on stage 4 from the same bug, they had been fighting for a podium GC finish. I forced down a small bowl of breakfast but on the start line for stage 6 I was white like a ghost. I could barely pedal and as riders streamed by I knew this was the end to our general classification ambitions, the mountainous route killed me. After all the hard work I'd put in especially on stage 5 I was gutted and had a little cry behind my sunglasses as we very slowly made our way along the route, eventually we lost around 1 hour 30.

I'd felt like being sick most of the morning and was all achy the rest of the day. To make matters worse I couldn't eat anything and was in bed all afternoon. I managed a small bowl of musli that afternoon before going to sleep just after 6pm.

Having not eaten anything on Wednesday but ridden around 100 km's with over 2000 metres of climbing I was a little worried about Thursday, maybe I could just make it through the day and recover for the final few days of the race?

After the sickness and achyness of Wednesday the 'race' on Thursdays stage 7 was a little better, I felt no pain but still suffered in a different way. My body was empty, the legs looked like sticks, I felt like I'd blown half an hour into the stage and riders began to stream past, first the mixed teams, then the girls teams, then the tandems, then everyone else.... Tim did his best pushing me up the hills and I pedalled on the flat and descents to keep a small bit of momentum going.

I don't remember much from the stage, I'm sure it was an awesome route but I just couldn't enjoy myself. Again we lost about an hour to the top guys, not that it mattered anymore. Coming across the line people were complementing us on how well we were doing, this angered me, I felt humiliated falling from 4th place in the men's classification to hours off the pace but these people weren't to know how well we'd been doing I suppose.

The guys from USN South Africa were very supportive the 2 nights I was ill and did their best to help us out, thanks to Albi and his team of riders.

On stage 8 we rode probably the best singletrack in the whole of South Africa, just 2km from the start line we joined the ribbon of trails which flowed their way towards Jolivet. The 30 kilometre descent should and would have been have made today the best day at Joberg2c but having not digested anything for 2 days my legs were again completely empty. I felt even worse than stage 7, at least then I had energy for the first 30 minutes, today there was nothing from the start line.

As soon as the trails flattened out I started looking for a way out, having descended for over an hour there was no way I could pedal up a hill a similar size to the finish. I was told to pedal on to the first water point at kilometre 40, I knew these last few k's were my last of the race. I passed over the tools I was carrying to Tim and told him to continue on without me, again I shed a little tear, all that effort and success on stages 1 - 5 felt like years ago. After this I felt a little relief, once at the feed I just sat on the ground watching riders pass by, I was gutted to not have made it to the end of stage 8 or the beach in Scottburgh after stage 9.

As I sat in the feed zone waiting for my lift to the finish Cherise Stander and her teammate pulled in for water, these 2 were fighting it out for a podium in the womens pairs category. Earlier this year Cherise lost her husband, the incredibly talented cyclist Burry Stander who's life was taken in a road accident while he was out training. Despite all this Cherise was here riding her bike, the feed zone operation wasn't especially fast and they were loosing time but the smile never disappeared from her face. This put things into perspective, I started thinking back over the last 10 days we'd been in South Africa, its been one amazing trip, each corner you turn the place just amazes you. Then there's the race, Joberg2c is something very special, I did the Cape Epic in 2012 so can now compare the 2, without a doubt which ever one you do you'll have an amazing time but don't get sucked into the buzz around the Epic.

The atmosphere here at Joberg2c is hard to explain but at the final evening presentation after stage 8 it became clearer, the organisers are like one big family and they welcome you into that family, all they want is for you to enjoy every moment whether its during the stage or during the breakfast, afternoon and evening. The routes put together are truly sensational, its amazing that so many land owners want you to ride through their land and build trails for the race.

I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here, thanks to Kelly and Wappo who run the race for all their help when we were planning the trip to SA, its been very special.

Also a massive thanks has to be said to two very special sponsors who stepped up for this trip, Little Knocks in Wokingham who put money towards the cost of bringing Dan our mechanic/ campervan driver out to SA. Also thanks to Itec South Africa who sponsored us for the trip, I hope we can work together again in the future.

Final thank you to Dan who did a sterling job all week cleaning and maintaining the bikes, driving the camper van, and dealing with all our other wants. Thanks mate!

I might not have finished Joberg2c this year but it gives us a great excuse to come back next year! :-) See you there.

1 comment:

  1. Man. I heard you had a virus but didnt hear how bad it was. Im sorry you werent able to finish but pleased you got to take part. Put it down to experience and come back stronger next year. Great to see such support provided. Well done to the team. Wish I coild have been there washing your bikes ;-)