Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Stage 6, final stage and 50km of pain

Stage 6 saw Rudy and Paris get to the line a good 3-4 mins late for thier roll out time with the B group. They managed to fight their way to the front and let the starter know. They were allowed to roll off 4 mins in arrears but with nice clean tracks in front of them and a massive group of chasers waiting back at the gate. Rudy had put up the white flag in terms of racing and wanted to try to enjoy the day and not be in the preverbial box from the outset. There late start gave them a great kick off to the day as it happens so all was well in team BOS ice tea. Ben was showing some cracks finally and was looking tired at the start and took off from the car to fetch his bike from the compound only to realise he had left his water pack in the car. Rare oversight, but an easy occurrence when you have been smashing it over mountain after mountain for 6 days straight. Stage 6 was to be 119km with 2800m of climbing. OUCH. The pro's as usual were smashing through the day and had 65km to go with only 2.5hrs ticked over on the clock. Man these guys can go hard and never seem to take strain. Christelle and I decided to take a drive to a great little fishing village called Hermanus. The weather was clear and sunny but fresh once again and we took the opportunity to have a good old fashioned cooked brecky. I tucked into my favourite bacon, eggs, tomato and toast. C felt the urge to hook into a big dirty brecky as well but err'd on the side of caution an health and a good figure and went for the titled "health breakfast" Stuff that, tuck in i say. Mind you its probably a good result for a continued tight butt :-) My main course down and a fresh (massive) scone with jam and fresh cream was screaming "order me Buzz" from the menu pages. So i obliged. Oh how good....... Time was an issue and we wanted to be there for the finish as we always have been and we needed to pick the now calm wife up Johanette and make haste to the finish line. We made it in plenty of time with the opportunity to remove the shirt get some sun and set up camp for some super zoom shots with Foz's great camera lense. I must say it will be hard for him to get that back when I return as it's a cracker an fits very snugly into my camera bag. Ben arrived in usual time or maybe a little behind some of the usual suspects you regularly see coming in around the same time each day. He was as suspected a bit flat today and struggled to get the legs to operate properly. Fair effort to only really have one flat day i say. Or maybe it was that he was able to ease himself into the race with thermus and blanket in hand while riding with Hoogy (Christelle) as the boys back home say on the regular Saturday ride, "be sure to pack the thermos, Christelle is coming for a walk today.......... Rudy rolled over the line a little ways back from usual but in better spirits and has found a new diet for riding on the bike, real food, can you imagine? he had all sorts in there, Baked potato, sandwich, fruit. Tad better than 6 days of gels in your body's moments of need. All was now set for the final day of 70km still with loads of climbing, but the finish was in sight and what a massive effort for all riders involved. I suspect it must be a pretty emotional rollercoaster and a massive triumph at the end of it all with what you would think to be a pretty solid bond between 2 riders if they gel on the way. Tomorrow was also a day for the first ever mountain bike race for Buzz. What would be the outcome. Is the off road for him or should he just stay on the road and grovel for others in team??? A nice early rise of 5.15am for Buzz and C, with nerves a plenty kicking in my pre race cough had joined me with the odd dry retch. Funny what a race will do to you. I wasn't racing for my life by any stretch but none the less it was a race. C had to drop me off at the finish line of the epic where my race the Vigne to Vigne started. There are about 40 seeded riders in the race who were to start right at the front and I managed to slot in right behind to stick to their heels for as long as I could (was tipping it wouldn't be long but a draft is a draft!). With 600 riders in the race it was a solid field. I had no idea what lay ahead but knew it was going to be different. The pace was pretty hefty rolling along a tar road for the first 2 km then bang straight up through the vineyard dirt track and a steep hit straight away. Lucky for me I had no clock, heart monitor or anything, it was just ride and finish. I think my hr monitor may have exploded if it was on though. I could see the leaders just pulling away with great ease and decided to lock into a cruise mode up the climbs and work the flats and down hills. I felt in pretty good shape was always unaware of how far into the race I was. With some cool single track a few good downhills, I was enjoying the race so far. As the race ticked on I was getting sore through the core and the climbing was taking its toll. With every uphill I saw Ii was starting to curse the heavy bike I was on and the fricken gears not changing and jumping. I had to make a seat adjustment as it was a tad too high and let some air out of the tyres as it was pretty hairy on the corners. That all made a big difference and it was back to the grind. More climbs and the altitude was starting to hurt me as well and then there it was the big wall, the wall of pain and the wall of you WILL slow down now little bald man. Fark, I was hurting and my core had given way, the pain was quite weird but solid and my weight on the seat was heavy. I would have to put up with this for roughly another 15km and let me tell you most of that was uphill. I was looking for a feed station and got one. If anyone can feed more marshmellows into their mouth in one go I will give you a $100. I filled the bottle with sweet fluids and rolled off praying for a solid downhill. It felt like I was on top of the mountain anyway so it must go down soon. It did but I was trying to get some comfort by standing or sitting on a cheek bone. I could hear the announcers and the hoo har going on back at the finish so I knew I was close. I finally pumped it over the line happy to have that out of the way and was thinking how am I going to get through another 50km in the Dirtworks??? My bike will help for sure and a smarter race plan. All good in the end and cracking scenery and loads of fun had. I think I would be happy to ride single track all day, fire trails do my head in I must say. I did hear the announcer say" my god someone is racing in this from Australia"..... Funny stuff, "dont you know who I am!! (just a line taken from Ryno's handbook of quotes) All of Christelle's family were waiting eagerly for the little bald man to come over the line so it was good to get a cheer even though they were waiting a little longer than expected..... The main race was close to a result with the top guys not too far away. It was a pretty quick day for them and there was a massive party atmosphere in wait for them. They estimate about 13,000 people come to the finale. It is a great show and good fun. The Vineyard was a great setting and a the race was won by a dual South African team. Ben finished well, Rudy was home and smiling, but C was pretty upset with not being able to get home for the whole race. Tough break she took and maybe something that will bite at the back of the mind for a while to come. All respect to her though for doing what she did for the first few days. They were certainly the toughest and hopefully she can be proud of that. I think you should all still pack your flasks though on Saturday......... Off to Saldanah a little bay on the West coast for some chill time OR maybe NOT with 5 screaming totts running around and a bunch of adults wanting to show Buzz around. The sun is shining and it’s good to be alive. I will update of events of the trip to Vic Falls and Pilansburg game park as they happen. Cheers for now BUZZ

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