Sunday, May 21, 2017

Trail and Trout - 3 day stage race 2017

The inaugural Trail and Trout (besides the last 40km) was the best stage mountain race I have done in my 8 odd years of riding. It was absolutely incredible, it was small and intimate but also tough at the same time. Being the first event, the organizers kept it really small so they could foresee any teething problems, restricting the field to 60 riders. This meant that you pretty much had a chance to meet and chat to most of the participants or see them along the route. There were six Benoni Rough Riders that took part in the event - Becky, Michelle, Darren, Fabio, Wayne and myself. This was awesome we had so much fun together after each stage. 
Day 1, we started in Ezimvelo Game Reserve outside Bronkhorspruit for the start of our day (240km) journey to Dullstroom, first stop near Loskop Nature Reserve 84km away. The route was mainly jeep track, district road and a spattering of single track in between. Unfortunately I had a tumble next to the river single track, it wasn't a big fall just came off at a rocky section.  Except my back wheel was in the air and I was suspended over the front handle bars that were jammed on my thigh. My left leg was still clipped in and was stuck there for a few minutes, being at a weird angle I strained my calf slightly when trying to free my foot. Everything seemed fine and a eventually caught up with Wayne, Darren and Fabs (the girls were racing snakes with podium places in sight). Granny Hill wasn't too bad I spun up there and even helped push a elderly lady with her husband. The decent down to the finish was pretty hectic (no Sani manicured single track), so bumpy that Wayne and I stopped just so we could get blood back in our hands. Great day and even better rest camp, we got big A Frame tents with a stretcher and mattress each (much better then cramped Sani2C tents). No lugging boxes and bags for miles because the race was so small. Everything was so easy, no queuing for meals, showers, toilet and beers. 
Rough Riders at the start - me, Wayne, Michelle, Becky, Fabs and Darren
Sometimes you just have to stop for a quick selfie
Views were amazing
Blood circulation stop
Darren at hand to capture Fabio's fall
Tents on Day1 
Day 2 Phew I totally underestimated Day2 - weighing over 100kgs and climbing hills for extended period is not sustainable. Of the 84km on Day 2, we climbed for 50 of them. The route was pretty bland with lots of district road that was always at an up angle. After the second water point I hit a wall and could not keep up with Darren and Fabs anymore (Wayne had vanished in the distance). My leg was starting to bug me but I pushed through and was extremely happy just to survive and get to the finish. 
Start of Day2 - that is where the love stopped :-)
Photo by Eric through the eyes of Becky and Michlle
Darren and Fabio
The girls ready for action 
Darren with enough skill up the hill to take a selfie
So I managed to act like a roadie and hang on to Eric's car for a bit 
Introducing myself to my partner at the water point
Epitomises Day2 - climbing
Photo by Eric Vermuelan me and Fabs slogging away
Chilling in the V chairs  
Day3 So day three started at 03:00 when the rooster decided that it was time for everyone to wake up. Also heard some jackals cackling in the distance. Breakfast with the Rough Riders and then to stretch the stiff calf. Unfortunately I tripped over a tent guide rope when going to lube the bikes and in the process sprained my already damaged calf muscle. I was in agony and could hardly walk. Shit can't believe my luck - that is the last three stage races that I have had bad luck (Sani - broken seat post and Berg and Bush shoe/cleat breaking). I stumble to the start line and tried to pedal it out, was in agony for every pedal stroke. Hoping that this was not really happening to me and it would get better I attempted to ride day 3. I painfully rode with the back markers with Wayne patiently by my side. I made it to the first water point at 21km and knew that there was no way I could continue. I sent Wayne on his own to finish the last 40km and managed to eventually get a lift back to the finish with the route marshals. Not the best way to finish a stage race, especially as everyone said day3 was the best day. My calf is still painful as I write this and I am using crutches today to aid my mobility but hopefully it will recover in a few days.  
Michelle, Wayne and Becky 
Rough Riders at breakfast (Becky the photographer) 
Day3 selfie to prove I actually rode
Becky and Michelle, First ladies team home and Third overall AWESOME!!!
Beer courtesy of Mr Brown to numb the pain of the physio
All I can say is that this was an incredible experience that I could share with some amazing people, it was a well organized event and I will remember it for years to come.

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