Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sani to Sea Trail 2013 - my story

So the story begins: after a few hard weeks of training we were in much better shape then last year (injury free) to tackle the 2013 Sani2C Trail event. This year we were going to do a few things different, firstly we were not going to spend the first night at the Underberg school opting rather to pay a little bit extra and stay in a self catering cottage. At least we were guaranteed a nice warm sleep before our epic journey instead of sucking diesel fumes from the trucks parked outside the classroom. Secondly we were not going to kill ourselves and race everyday but rather just enjoy the experience and appreciate the fantastic scenery and wonderful tracks.  We were not sure if we would do this event again, not because of the cost but because we would like to use our limited sports leave to race/ride in a different part of the country. Below are a few photos that capture the essence of our exhilarating 3 days riding some of the best tracks in the country.

Our river view cottage for the first night stay before the race start

We went on a great adventure ride and found some great MTB tracks and views

Greg and I had an awesome time exploring the place where we stayed
Day1 was a lot warmer than last year and we had an advantage this time as we knew what to expect. This day was my best day of all three, as there was fantastic single track through the forest and of course the bridge over the dam which was really easy compared to last year. We had a very pleasant ride not exerting ourselves and finishing just under 5 hours for the 82km route.
Greg and I before the start of Day1

Awesome forest tracks on Day1

Day2 For the first time we were not scared for this day but rather looking forward to the challenge. Going down into the valley was absolutely amazing, the views are incredible except you don't have much time to look at them as you have to really focus on the single track in front of you, one mistake and you are over the edge (I believe one person was airlifted after falling and breaking a few vertebrae). Then came the long climbs, a lot easier than last year as we knew what to expect this time and we saved our legs for them. It was a long day - 7 hours of riding and 1 hour of stopping (we got our moneys worth at the water points). I had a bit of a de-javu moment when I hit the bolt on the end of the scaffold bridge going over the river before WP1 and did a fantastic tumble over the handle bars. A superb tuck and roll and back on my feet in a few seconds. Funny thing is I hit the exact same bolt last year and did the same tuck and roll. The heat on Day2 was something else - we hit highs of 39 degrees Celsius so it was pretty energy sapping but it was a great feeling finishing the 102km ride.  

Descending down the valley on Day2

Going over the Umkomaas river (Greg in the background)

Customary Nandos burger after slogging up a loooong climb
Best massage ever from Melissa after 7 odd hours in the saddle
Day3 Feeling a lot better than last year we eagerly started day 3, this was another fantastic day in the saddle. Farmer Glen talked up the last 16km so we were a bit nervous not knowing what to expect and pretty terrified for the new bridges at Scottborough.  I had another fall in the same place as last year whilst going down a steep decline, both brakes could not stop me sliding down this hill and I eventually lost control and ended up using my elbow as a brake pad. After washing my wounds at the first water point I was ready to tackle the rest of the day. I am not sure that the new route at the end of Day3 was better, I think I preferred going up Heart Rate hill and the fast declines thereafter. The bridge at the end was awesome,  800m  of narrow bridge winding over the lagoon at Scottborough with a few meters going over the sea at the end. Fortunately Greg was behind me (hoping to catch me on the GoPro taking a dive into the lagoon) and held back the other riders as I had a nervous start when riding the bridge and had to stop to change gears. Once going the bridge experience was fantastic, the bridge actually moved as you were riding so you had to really concentrate and keep your line. The last bit of the bridge went into the sea but it low tide so did not having any big waves rocking the bridge. 5 hours to complete the 86km and finish our second Sani2C.
Before the start of Day3 feeling a lot better than last year...
Partner Greg armed with the GoPro as I fall too much.... 
Hey is this thing recording or what?

Vernon Crookes Day3
Great to finish another Sani2C and the photo with Farmer Glen
What an awesome experience to share with my good mate Greg Heunis, 3 days riding over 270km of the best mountain bike tracks in South Africa. Below is some video footage of Day2 and Day3 recovered off the GoPro camera (long story but the SD card on the camera reformated itself and all footage was lost)....

Sunday, May 5, 2013

One week to go....

So in one weeks time we will be heading out to Underburg to start our epic journey to the sea on pristine single track. Wow I can't wait. Am I prepared? Ummm yeah I think so, much better then last year at least. My riding this week started with a nice early ride on Wednesday, we had a great 77km spin out into the Benoni outback via the train tracks etc...I managed to get one Strava - King of the Mountain (KOM) crown on the ride. For the ride stats click HERE 
Today was my last big ride for my Sani2C preparation. It was truly a memorable ride because I met some great new like minded people and did a hard 90 odd km ride with them. Rebbecca and I got into contact via Strava and Twitter and then arranged a ride today from Benoni to Modderfontein Central Park Trails MTB park and back. Greg and Adam sent early morning sick notes but Mark man-ed up and joined Rebbecca, Juan, Craig, Jason, Jessica, Kevin and I. Great to ride with new people (although I have known Craig for years) and some of them are also riding Sani2C next week. The pace was fast and I pushed myself till the legs burned hoping that I will reap the benefits of this effort when climbing out of the Umkomaas valley. For the ride stats click HERE

The group at the end of the tussle with the dirt track..

Welcome customary stop at the garage for a coke and food...