Here we are battling the Prologue in our first attempt back in 2012. Foz had troubles with his bike from the start. He even needed mechanical support before we rolled off that start line in the prologue. Regardless we rode really well and paced ourselves pretty well to a tee for where we were physically and having been raw when it came to mountain bike racing and total virgin MTB stage racers.
Well fwd to 2014 and we feel more at peace with what is upon us. That is not to say we are not nervous and apprehensive about what lies ahead. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have those feelings. We are ready to race though and this year compete in the Masters category instead of the Open Men against all those world champs! We sat in 35th position overall at one stage last time around until a major mechanical put us back to 65th in one foul swoop. We pushed on though as our aim was a top 100 finish out of 600 teams. On the last stage we raced hard, when others teams had given it away and were happy to just finish. We would’ve managed a podium spot in the Masters that day. So we hold high hopes of a top 10 finish this year. If we manage that it will be huge. You need to aim high right :-)!!!
If all goes well, who knows? and if it doesn’t you could finish anywhere. I’m not one to focus on the negatives so all will run smoothly for us, especially given Foz has a new weapon.
This year we are joined by Damien (Radman) Jones and Russel (Rustypipes) Edgar from the Melbourne Hampton Cycles crew. They are a formidable team with Radman in flying form winning, Tour of Gipplsland East Masters, Gold and Silver medal in two categories in the National Masters MTB champs in Bright and Rusty has been posting some impressive times on Strava as well. So we expect them to be placing high as well, pushing for a top 10 and representing the Aussie clan well.
These guys are deep in the cycling fraternity and have managed to come up with some great sponsors for our teams. Specialised Australia, Bonk Breaker, Bar fly, bolle, Hampton Cycles, Stages, Garmin to join our generous sponsors at The Fixed Wheel, The Taste of Belgium (best pastry snails ever) and Symantec. We send out a massive thank you to all the sponsors and hope to represent you all well in South Africa. So if your following us through this journey, please support these generous companies and spend up :-)!!
The course is as brutal as ever and will take us over some amazing terrain and scenery. Fingers crossed no wildlife make a B-line for us as has happened to some poor souls over the years. The stage is set for some brutal climbing and gnarly descents and not to mention those massive thorns that only South Africa can serve up. After all this is coined as the worlds toughest MTB race and sits along side the Tour D France and the Giro D Italia as the only uncategorised races due to the sheer amount of vertical meters to climb
Foz is in flying form after a MINOR set back of two hairline fractures in a rib and cartilage torn from the bones in a big stack while chasing this little peanut around the Manly Dam about 4 weeks ago. It slowed him down a little at the time which I reckon he needed as he was putting in some massive days on the bike. Foz hates to rest and runs on full gas so sometimes the Universe slows him down when needed. He is in cracking form though and tipping the scales at a miserly weight of 52kg and pushing 53 years of age, Amazing stuff really. If he was my age I’d tell him to go jump if he asked me to partner up with him can’t wait to share this awesome race with him though knowing how good a ride partner and team man he is. That makes all the difference in this race. We are tracking pretty close this year in fitness and know each other’s ride and mood pretty well. That counts for a lot when that little room of darkness opens its doors and invites you in for an extended stay on about stage 4-5 and beyond. When your teammate is happy to join you on the couch in that room, it makes it that much easier to get up off the couch of pain and walk back out into the sunshine.
Outside of the race, my beautiful wife Christelle and our new addition little Bo will be along for the finale in Lourensford. Can’t wait for that celebration already. Christelle gets to introduce our little Gem to the Safas, they have been waiting in anticipation to meet him and show him off. A proud Mum will be happy to oblige while Dad is playing in the mud, dust, sun & rain on his bike!
Next post will be from the palatial surrounds of The Bay hotel in the magnificent Camps Bay by the water in Cape Town.