Sunday, March 15, 2015

Long and hard

So what was I thinking, that I could easily do an ultra marathon mountain bike race over a 110km!!!!
I somehow got coerced into entering and completing this race by my group of fellow mountain bike nut jobs - the Benoni Rough Riders. You'll be fine they said, you did 120km to Irene and back. Well things did not go so well yesterday. It was one of my hardest rides and was possibly 30km further then I should have attempted on my current fitness levels. 

Unfortunately Greg had to pull out at the last minute and we had to reshuffle our transport to the start of the race in the small town of Reitz (Orange Free State) - thanks Wayne. It was an early start with us getting up at 3:30 in order for Wayne, Paul and I to meet Sean, Rebecca and Mark by 04:30 at the Engen garage so we could ride together. 

 2.5 hours drive to the start of the race and we were greeted with cold and windy conditions - it looked like we were in for a wet ride. Short ride from the Reitz show grounds to the centre of town where the race started at 08:00.
Benoni Rough Riders before the start of the race
We sort of stuck together as a group until the first water point and then I told them not to wait for me as I was really struggling with the hills - and there were lots of them. I stuck with Rebecca and Wayne until after the second water point and then got dropped on one of the many long rolling climbs. 
The route was pretty hectic - besides the rolling hills there were stages where we had to ride through grass fields and the tufts of grass really took their toll on my already aching body. Fortunately the rain stayed away but the clouds dissipated and the sun started beating down. Phew it really got hot my Garmin was  showing 36 degrees at one stage with an average of 29 for the ride. It was a really long ride and I took just under 7 hours to complete the 113km route. That meant I was riding the whole day - energy sapping stuff in the midday sun.

One thing that was awesome, was the beautiful scenery, there were Cosmos flowers and vast open spaces where you could see for miles. Near the end we passed through a wolf sanctuary, amazing to see all different types of wolves in separate enclosures.
Great scenery
One of the many wolves in the wolf sanctuary
The last 30km were really tough for me, it seemed that all my old injuries had came back to haunt me - my knee and back were killing me with every peddle stroke. There were some dark moments counting down the last few kilometres until the end. I stopped a few times to take some photos and have a reprieve from the constant mundane struggle. The end just would not come fast enough. I managed it though, really chuffed that I stuck it out and completed my first ultra marathon distance mountain bike race. Here are my Strava stats for the ride
Photo on the finish line and I was truly finished...

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