Thursday, 31 March 2011

Stage 1, 2 Magic scenery and broken bones

Stage one saw the 89km trip tick over in 5hrs and 55min. It saw one of the pro riders in Kevin Evans crash out with a collar bone break on one of the narly descents. There were 3 collar bones in total today and many other walking wounded. It was an extreme stage for the riders but the course also came with big wraps on it as being one of the best stages ever for actual mountain biking and scenery. The race headquarters is in a wine estate called Saronsburg. The field the tents are set up in is massive and purpose prepared for the race as it is situated here for 3 days, there is a chill room where you can watch the world cup cricket, rugby, or any other sport that takes your fancy. There are mobile shower trucks set up a massive eating tent and several stalls mixed in amongst the sponsors tents and bike mechanics that are on call. It is a sight to behold. Team KMD managed to stay in one piece today and out of most major troubles. Christelle did take her second tumble and then a 3rd today making it 3 in 2 days but was still in good shape, but is it a sign of things to come?? It was a tough course having some very steep ascents and descents that would test the skills of even the best riders out there. The descents were covered in a thick but loose film of that red African dust and what lay below wasn't always kind to the riders. With tree roots and rocks below the dust the odd surprise got thrown at them and hence a stack here or there. There were stories of riders going down all over and trying not to ride over them was sometimes impossible so a human speed hump also became an obstacle. Theses riders become almost un-recognisable at the end of the day and if you have white kit on, well no nappy san is going to get that out. C's Bro was helping her out on some of the climbs and flats with a helping hand in the back every now and then and also giving the odd verbal joust to push her to her limits if in fact she wasn't already on it!! With no mechanical's to speak of things were traveling along nicely, Team KMD were sitting in 13th spot still and had improved by a massive 20% on overall GC dropping them into 190th out of 600 teams. The plan was to move into top 10 as soon as possible. I managed to get around to many of the spectator points and cheer the team and get some great photos of the race and scenery. My introduction to some of the locals was interesting. Upon telling them I was Australian i was met with the response that "oh the people that we hate" as you can imagine was quick response was "why because we beat you at everything"?, stick that in your boerewors and eat it. I have been met with this greeting on more than one occasion, but it's better sitting in my seat as a perennial winner that a choker so all is good really and ultimately they are lovely people with a good sense of competition and rivalry with Australia so keep up the jibes we love the banter. The evening saw us off for my first South African Braai. I was on my way to what is called meat dreams. On the Braai menu was a choice of 2 x meats + Boerewors and a token salad. Lamb, beef, chicken and pork to choose from. I tucked into the steak and chicken box… thanks very much. It was a good cook up but well short of the amount of dead carcass I thought I was going to get. I'm looking for a better addition of the Braai down the track. Stage 2 Was to be a 104km stage with an extreme climb out of this wonderful valley inside 20km, something to blow the legs up early and wake you right up. It was roughly 1000m over roughly 6km but loose and rocky. Lots of walking was done by most of the competitors here with only the Pro guys going through in good shape. By half way the Pro's were in a tight group of about 12 and pumping along well. The KMD crew were travelling well just before the 2nd water station. I had managed to let the raines out on the Range rover and get to the furthest point well away from other spectators and with a good vantage point to get some photos and hurl some much needed encouragement. They had moved there way up the mixed field to sit in virtual 6th on the trail when I saw them. By the next stop I made the news wasn't so good. I seemed to be waiting an eternity and sensed something may have gone wrong. Christelle had taken her 4th fall on a downhill at an off camber corner, grabbing a handful of front brake at the wrong time saw her hit the deck hard with Ben saying all he saw was a massive cloud of dust and a big thud. She had come down very hard and knocked the wind out of herself. There were still 50 solid km to go so it was time to drag herself up off the deck and bite the lip to make the trek home and back down the massive descent they had come up earlier. The tears of pain were flowing and every little pebble was felt in her ribs. She had actually fractured her 6th rib which was confirmed after a drive to the hospital after the race. C was gutted and in a fair bit of pain as you can imagine. Pretty tough customer I must say pushing that 50km out with a clean beak in the ribs. It was decision time now to keep riding or sit this one out........ Given she finished the day she is able to miss the next one and start the following day, but only as a blue numbered rider, an un-official rider. Her brother continues on but is out of the mix without a partner. We'll see if she can grit her teeth and punch out the TT on Thursday and push through till the end........ Until then we cheer the rest on and take in the sights of this magical little valley and wine region around Tulbagh. BUZZ

No comments:

Post a Comment