Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sani2C Trail 2014 - demons conquered

Sani to Sea 'Trail' 2014 was spectacular for many reasons but the two that stick out are my knee injury and that I conquered all the demons from previous Sanis'.

Just over a week before the start of our 3rd Sani, I fell on a training ride and badly sprained my right knee. It was really a stupid fall: I was leading a group of 20 mountain bikers on an outride when I looked back to see if everybody had caught up, hit a bit of a ditch and didn't un-cleat properly resulting in a really hard fall on some small rocks. What a painful ride, I gritted my teeth for another 60km before hobbling home. After X-rays, a few days off work, physio, anti-inflammatories, trans-act patches and plenty of ice, I made a call a few days before we were meant to leave - that I would be able to ride. There were some dark moments when I thought I wouldn't make it at all and even asked Greg to find a standby replacement just in case (thanks Paul).  So this was my most nerve wracking Sani ever - I was not sure if I had made the right decision and whether my knee would hold up for a very tough 266km. What makes it even harder is that there are 2 of you in a team and I did not want to mess Greg's ride up by falling out after a day or 2.
 
So the journey begins - Greg picked me up at 07:00 and we headed out to Underberg me still tenderly nursing my knee on the way down. Traditional Wimpy breakfast at Mooiriver and then registration in Sani2C village in the primary school in Underberg by 13:30. Wow did we get some loverly kit this year - jackets, jerseys, t-shirts etc...  Next was the drive to our bed and breakfast The Old Hatchery and we hit some heavy traffic....
 Great accommodation at The Old Hatchery and a fantastic steak, eggs and chips for supper. I had to spoon with my bike for the night....
Day1 - 82km nervous cold start, will my knee hold up? I had a trans-act patch and a knee guard on to protect it. One fall on my right knee and my Sani was over.
So started my self conservancy journey to protect my knee from stress and any falls. After about 20km my right foot was numb so I had to loose the knee guard. We were fortunate to have a few friends doing the Sani with us this year. Rebecca, Molly, Juan, Ian, Marius and a few others.... Day1 we rode most of the way with Becky and Juan and their partners. It was great fun.  
Becky and Marlette
 I rode everything on Day1 only stopping at Water points, a little slower then I could have but I was worried about the next 2 days, never the less it was a great ride. Unfortunately I couldn't stand on down hills or technical bits as it would have put pressure on my knee. With 3 kms to go I experienced my first cramps on a bike when my right hamstring seized up and I had to get off the bike to stretch - ouch!! We managed to beat our best time by 7mins, Greg rode well and had to wait for me for quite often. Strava ride stats click here.  
Greg stashing the free drinks in his shirt :-)
Great overnight stay at Mackenzie tented village, great massage to get the blood flowing in the legs, best tent position, fantastic food, awesome neighbors....  

+700 two man tents and a massive catering tent 
Supper with another 1400 riders


Day2 - 100km this is the notoriously hard day of Sani. 30km of breathtaking riding in the beginning going down the Umkomaas Valley followed by a uphill slog of another 70km to get to Jolivet Farm. Another day where plenty of demons were conquered, I rode areas that I couldn't the year before and paced my self nicely to finish without any injuries. Greg had to wait for me once again and we could have beaten our time by a least an hour if I didn't stop to take photos and ride carefully protecting my knee. Also after leaving WP1 I realized that I only had one glove on as I'd dropped my other glove, so I had to ride 1 km back to find my glove while Greg patiently waited.

Awesome view over the Umkomaas Valley

I was pretty tired towards the end of Day2 but happy that we still beat our time by 20min. Click here for the Strava stats of my ride. Unfortunately Rebecca fell on a rock in the Valley knocking her knee and had to be flown out in the helicopter -  that was to be the end of her Sani2C for 2014. I only had one fall the whole of Sani when I ran out of talent up Push of a Climb and used a thorn tree as a pin cushion to stop my fall. The camp at Jolivet was amazing once again, the addition of the Barn where the riders could relax afterwards with plenty of free stuff was a great...

The Barn
The local Farmers cooking thick juicy steaks for 1500 people
Great supper with friends - Greg, myself, Ian, Juan, Molly and Becky
Day3 - 84km So my knee survived 2 grueling days and I could ride the last day without any worries. Day3 was a great day - Greg and I rode strong together and it really was a awesome riding.  A few more demons were overcome - I rode down a long drop-off where I crashed on both previous years and rode up steep hills where I un-cleated before. I really enjoyed this day and we managed to finish 30mins faster than the previous year. Click here for the Strava stats.
Greg and I ready for Day3
Plenty of riding through the sugar cane fields https://www.facebook.com/sani2c?fref=nf
Yes Greg also falls sometimes :-)
Greg and I at the top of Work to Be Done climb
Traditional finish on the beach and a photo with Farmer Glen
We were fortunate to stay with Greg's parents who spoiled us with their hospitality once again in Scottborough before driving back to JHB the next day (stopping for our traditional Wimpy Bacon Burger in Harrismith). Wow, this was another fantastic experience that I shared with my good (kind and very patient) friend Greg. I was so relieved that my knee held up for the 3 days and we could still finish faster than the year before. What an epic adventure!!!!!
 
Lastly thanks to my beautiful wife Linda for her for holding the fort at home during my long training rides on some weekends, this would not have been possible without her support and encouragement. 


1 comment:

  1. Fantastic stuff Rich, well done!!! That is one nice looking kit on Day 3 :) - Mark Langkilde

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