Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Stage 2 A good ride by all!

Buzz, Johnny, Mark and me about to have dinner last night
 We were up early….this is starting to be like ground hog day. 4.45am, up, walk over to breakfast, eat as much as we possibly can and then back to the room to kit up. The body is holding up reasonably well, but with 6 stages to go, preservation is the key.

Buzz and I got to the start chute early, ready to go at 6.30. Looking around we are one of the few leading teams using camelbacks. We decided that we should use them as I am the type of rider that if I am out of water, then I am out of gas!. Our Camelbacks were full of various bits and pieces that we may need……spare tubes, pump, gas canisters, food, gels, chain break and multi tools. The extra weight is a small tradeoff, as if we have any issues out on the course, we have to be able to fix it ourselves.

Plenty of scenery like this to ride through

The race started at 7am with 6k on the tarred roads out of Robertson, before we hit the trails. The pace was full on as it was a mass start and we were probably about in the first 70-80 teams. The peleton was spread out right across the road. After 150m, my chain jumped off the derailleur. Lucky Buzz saw me as the pack was screaming along. I had to stop and put my chain back on by hand. The trick with this is not to panic and I fixed the bike and Buzz paced me back up to near front. After a 2k chase we were back into position.

Once we hit the trails, the first thing we did was have to cross a rather deep creek. It was ridable (just), but our feet and shoes got a drenching. It also has the effect of washing all the lube off our chain, so the risk with a dry chain is snapping it.

Nice Countryside!
Today’s stage was a little flatter and faster than yesterday. There was more “pack” riding as there was more open firetrail. This suits Buzz’s and my road riding background and we found some nice packs to roll along in. My bike was performing much better after a complete rebuild overnight by our mechanics. It is interesting rolling along in the packs. In some of the groups today were riders from Germany, France, South Africa, New Zealand, Denmark, Portugal. You don’t hear much English being spoken, except for the odd Aussie telling someone to “pull a turn mate!”. 
We hit the first feed station at the 38k mark. As what is now becoming the norm, the feed stations are bedlam. No one wants to stop any more than required. Riders grab water, stuff bananas, coke, muffins, lollies, and these very nice small boiled potatoes dipped in salt(my favourite), as well as getting lube on their bikes usually all at the one time. I have never heard so many swear words in so many languages happening all at once. Buzz and I more than hold our own, and we elbow in and grab a feed.

Another hill. Some trees would be nice!

Besides the rocks, the other memory of the ride is the dust. As you know, Africa has this very fine red dust. We get to ride through it all, and it gets in everywhere. It is unbelievable. Washing it out of clothes and bodies is a real challenge.

Results wise, we continue to climb up the leaderboard as do Johnny and Mark, from Team Weatherzone. We were 72nd today out of 601 teams and we are now 84th overall.  Mark and Johnny are 108th overall and 18th in masters, so both teams are doing well.

The rider zone with food and drink at the finish
The last 4k was back on the tarmac today and as soon as we hit it, Buzz and I showed these mountain bikers how to ride a time trial. Buzz took off as we swung onto the asphalt and I was right on his tail. I came around him with about 2 and a half k to go, in the big ring (tks Fixed Wheel!). Buzz swung in behind me and we tore past 4 teams, a couple that jumped onto our wheel. With about 1k to go, we hit a few tight turns and as we came into town the crowds were out and cheering. There was no way anyone was coming past me. With 500 to go, Buzz yelled from behind me ‘come on Foz, keep the juice on, we don’t want these bastards coming over the top of us!. We had a few 90 degree turns and we hooked through them at full speed, and managed to win our little race within a race.

Buzz recovering!
As you finish the organization of the race takes over. You are handed drinks, food, a wet towel and they take your bike and clean them. We headed into the rider recovery tent and started to get ready for the monster stage of tomorrow. As we sat there, Buzz showed me his scratches from a fall he had today. I was ahead of him and didn’t know. He washed out his front wheel coming around a sandy corner and put it into the sand. So falls at the moment is Buzz 2, Foz 0. Let’s hope there are no more falls from KMD Racing.

Team KMD after the finish of Stage 2- 72nd on the stage
We came back to the orphanage this afternoon and in the room next to up is 2 teams (4 Guys) from Sth Africa and the Middle East. Yesterday 2 of the guys ended up in hospital on drips due to dehydration and today one of those guys had an epileptic fit 20k into the race. To come to this race unprepared is to court disaster.

Johnny at the finish
Mark at the finish
Injuries and aches and pains have to be managed every day. Besides general tiredness and sore muscles, I have a few ailments that I am looking after. The left side of my lower back is very tight and sore, however the physio said that stretching and some Volatrin will fix that. My hands are also incredibly tired and it feels as if I have been squeezing a tennis ball in both hands for 12 hours. I can hardly type. This is as you are constantly on the brakes and gears and it makes for some sore hands! I also have a saddle sore forming. For those you who aren’t into cycling, I am not going to explain it here. I would suggest you look on Wikipedia. Needless to say it is very sore and if not looked after can be a big issue. I bought a big tube of Bepathen crème and I plan to use it all!!

All in all a good day. Tomorrow is a monster with 147k and 3000m of vertical climbing. I am a bit nervous about it. We will see how it pans out……

Bikes cleaned and lubed, ready to go tommorrow

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