21 June 2012
RE: CM 200 another success for team bizhub-FCF
With Gauteng in the grip of winter, three riders from team bizhub-FCF made the trek to Knysna for the RE: CM 200 which took place from the 15th to 17th of June ...
Old Mutual Joberg2C - 27/04 - 05/05/2012
Having had 3 weeks of family time with Rob and reminding the cat of her mother I was back to the sun of South Africa. Though Spring should have arrived in the UK the temperature barely got over 10 degrees and at times my training rides were pretty grim with the lambs and myself looking at each other in pity. However its always good to be home especially after the Epic where I was in need of some TLC and some home cooked food and I returned fresh and ready for the next stage race, Joberg2c: a 9 day journey from Johannesburg to Scottsburgh, some 900km away where hopefully we would arrive in one piece all be it looking worn out, windswept and generally pretty rugged.
Karen Beef (near Heidelberg) to Frankfort 113km
We turned up relaxed and excited as the day was a ‘none race’ day, perfect for us both. Ischen, my partner (for her sins) is on the way back from a broken wrist and I had spent 3 weeks on the road back home so my skills are pretty rusty. The race splits straight away with two choices down some lovely single track. We close the left and discovered it a lot longer than the right but more interesting. Re grouping at the bottom we were able to catch up with friends and generally have a relaxing ride while at the same time flying along at a good pace due to the fantastic tail wind Wappo had organized for us. A slight mechanical problem with Ischen’s chain was fixed down at the boat crossing by Nevel from Botswana who was our ‘mechanic on the road’ last year too! Rowing across the river (or pretending in Ischen’s case) we crossed into the Freestate and into a nasty bumpy grassy head/side wind until the third feed station. Described as a mirage on the horizon by some and a Deli by others the stop was amazing: millie, chicken, sausage, slices, and sweets. I alternated between millie and chocolate slices, an odd but tasty combination though I complained at the lack of toothpicks for the whole ride on to Frankfort, our first home!
Frankfort – Reitz 93km
The race begins…
After a rather rushed breakfast and getting the bags on the truck we rode away from Frankfort behind the huge Massey Ferguson. It was a pretty cold start but the arm warmers were soon yanked down as the race got underway along dusty tracks by the river into the blinding sun. Once we settled down we found ourselves with Carel and Leana, our Bizhub mixed team and rode in a small group. Ischen’s chain jammed again and we lost the group. Riding on our own from there was fine with another tail wind and eventually we regrouped. The scenery was pretty average but the sun was out and the wind was mainly behind so no complaints even in the flat lands! We finished on a high, having passed right through a wolf sanctuary following a fantastic single-track descent. We were 1st woman and somewhere in the 20s overall
Reize - Sterkfontein dam 123km
It was freezing this morning and only warmed to 7 degrees when we rolled out slowly behind the tractor. The groups split up fairly early and as we rode through one of many fields of the day we again found ourselves with Carel and Leana. Eventually our group was around 8 strong, a sociable bunch and feeling strong I was happy sharing the pulling at the front. Wappo had done an amazing job through the year and there was so much more single track and fields to ride through. In fact we never rode on tar once which was a shame as my whole body felt battered from so many bumps, I imagine it must have been pretty tough on Ischen’s wrist so I couldn’t really complain!
Again the wind blew mainly from the back and we finished in 4 hours 58, an hour quicker than what we thought. The scenery today was pretty impressive, riding in the middle of nowhere through these millie fields with no sign of any civilization and the mountains just next to us.
I’m afraid I was to blame for losing the back half of our group the last 15km… riding over more bumpy fields I just wanted to be done with and hearing the other Bizhub crew on my wheel I rode hard leaving the men to fend for themselves. My main motive I had to admit wasn’t about increasing our lead, rather I’d remembered the fantastic camp with huge tables full of cakes, biscuits, kooksisters and more, not to mention the bath, real toilets, sinks and soap, pure luxury!!
Sterkfontein Dam – Winterton 124km
The biggest day on paper and we were both looking forward to it. Last year was filled with mechanical problems and we spent the single track stuck in long queues. Instead today we had the descent to ourselves and enjoyed every bit! The route climbs and winds round the edge of the escarpment along ‘Great Wall My China’ with fantastic views down over the Zulu Kingdom. The wind was blowing like it does on the Yorkshire Moors and towards the edge, which was a little nerve-racking. Ischen led down the single track not even hesitating at the easy or hard route and I did wonder if she was hanging on to the bars as much as I was.
Following the descent the route continued on and off flowing single track, some through fields with steep edges which caused a few incidents, other bits were down fantastic descents, especially after the climb up Spioenkop, all in all the whole route was interesting, varied and one of the best days in the saddle.
We finished the day in around 6 hours, in 30th so pretty consistent. After yesterday’s food I am getting tired of eating now and happily gave the huge slabs of steak and donuts a miss though was pleased to see some real tea and rusks.
Winterton – Kamberg 102km
Warm up now consists of a hot cuppa from Seattle Coffee Company, very much needed with these 5am wake ups! Today the pace at the start was pretty slow for a change- I think it was the scrambled egg and bacon the guys were chowing down. Eventually we split up over some single track and re grouping after that we formed a nice big, civilized bunch, stopping at the feed and riding at a steady pace along the open road. After a good chat we turned up into a reserve and in between looking at bok we climbed high up to the 2nd feed. We rode alone from there then worked hard to tag back onto part of our splintered group for the road down to Kamberg. With a tent overlooking the river, a cooling dip with our racing friends followed by a massage and an afternoon on a beanie chatting about the day with some good coffee and cake the day will take some beating. The atmosphere at Joberg2C is incredible.. not only do you make great friends but also the support from the communities is unbeatable. In this camp we not only had a leaflet telling us where everything was and table mats hand drawn by the kids, but also some witty guy had pitched a tent all on its own over the river with a sign saying ‘Snorers’ and on the hill opposite stood a box high up with a sigh saying ‘Complaints’. Funny how little things amuse the most!
Kamberg – Hazeldean Farm 93km
This morning there was no cold start as the race hit the hills as soon as the tractor pulled off the route, well actually fell off the route as it toppled into a ditch! There was no need to kill ourselves to stay with the big group up front as there was a tail wind and I was happy to take the pace as we rode alone. After 40km or so we hit Snow Mountain, a long climb with legendary fruitcake at the top! After that was a fast descent, a wade through the river followed by endless climbs and descents all the way to the camp. The views were amazing and something we’d missed last year in the mist. It was like a scene out of ‘Never Ending Story’, the one with the dinosaurs I seem to remember! As we got closer to camp we were both happy to see the lovely autumn colors on Hazeldean Farm near Underberg. Again we were 1st woman 32nd overall and now 22nd in GC.
I did seem to be plagued with bad luck after the finish.... My bag was in the truck that broke down meaning extra chammy time, the showers ran out of water just as I got there, and then the electricity went off as I was in the coffee queue. Added to that, despite the beautiful surroundings, there were no sinks to wash in, only portaloos and a long queue for beef stew for dinner (not been a fan of cow unless its in a spag bol I’ve been drewling over Ishen’s vegetarian option and sending her back for seconds on numerous occasions!!)
Hazeldean Farm – Mackenzie Club 85km
Today was the start of the Sani2c route and a short, pretty flat stage with some fun flowing single track. We were led out of the farm by 4 horses from the polo club (not sure if the tractor is still stuck!!) before the frantic race through nearby farmlands. It ended up been one of my favorite days, with the laugh of going across the floating bridge, and some duel single track which we raced down with our TransAct friends through the forest which was like doing a slalom course dodging the trees! It was almost a shame to finish and it was a long hot afternoon spent mainly on our mattresses in the shade chatting with Eric, Ariene, Leana and Jennie while happy in the knowledge our bikes were getting the best TCL by Conrad. Leana and Carel were now comfortably in 3rd place, riding well together and enjoying the week as much as we were.
Mackenzie Club - Jolivet 96km
It was a little easier to get out of the sleeping bag this morning, as it was lovely and warm. However after a noisy night of snorers I could easily have rolled over and slept another 6 hours. Once off we were soon into the famous single track that makes Sani2c so popular. We went left which was congestion free and then thankfully had no one behind me down the mountainside. With the mist in the Unkomaas valley the descent was spectacular, I only wished I had the skill to fly down the single track like the guys. Once down we wove our way along the valley then started the many river crossings. Some were fine, some you got half way over and realized how deep they got, and others we didn’t even attempt! Near where the second water point should have been was a concerned couple from Search and Rescue telling us the feed wasn’t there and here was some lube and half a bottle of water to get us through the next 20km. It was hot and I felt for those slower guys but just round the corner up the hill was the feed so there was no panic after all. After a whole load more climbing we eventually entered the forest and enjoyed the fast descent all the way down with some fun bits of single track in the trees. The last few Km’s Farmer Glen and his team had managed to dig a whole track by the side of the main road in the last few weeks making it not only safer for us riders but also for the community for many years to come. Today we finished 1st woman, 29th overall in 4 hr45
The evening’s entertainment was hilarious with two very funny ‘Wipeouts of the Day’ stories, one from Aiden, the ‘in house’ comedian plus a ‘Behind the Scenes’ video including cuts from SuperCycling, which was shown daily. With only one day left there was a real relaxed atmosphere and it was a late night… 9.30 before my torch went out!!
Jolivet - Scottburgh 75km
A stomach bug hit the camp, which unfortunately caught me too, and after a restless night I warned Ischen the day would be a slow one. She also felt pretty unwell so it was a good job we had no pressure. I had no energy at all but worse was the lack of co ordination. I lost the group we were with on every bend, eventually getting dropped on a climb. It is a great route so was a shame not to enjoy it so much. Ischen was patient and I didn’t want to cause any more damage by pushing it so we rode steady and managed to get a free ride down to the sea behind some strong guys. I was more than relieved to see the sea and coming over the boards and up to the finish line our 9-day journey was over. We were 40th today and dropped to 23rd on GC but I can live with that. Carel and Leana were 3rd in the Mixed so there was a good Bizhub presence at the presentation.
I’d like to say we finished off with an all night party in Scottburgh to show our true endurance but after crashing out for 3 hours that afternoon in a real bed I then managed another 10 hours that night before dozing half the way back to Joberg with the post race blues already hitting home!!