Ok, like most of you know is that I am challenge by gravity as for some reason it’s more difficult to move heavy objects up a hill, physics or something. So there you have it, Mother Nature and the laws of earth are there to make me suffer, and even more so on a bicycle.
Arriving at the Fairview Attakwas (registration on Friday, one could feel the excitement in the air as over 1000 mountain bikers descended on the Karoo town of Oudtshoorn, it was either that or I was really nervous as to what was to transpire as I would get on my bike the next day. Would the 121km take me 11hours, 10, 9 or would I not make it (2013 I pulled out after 43km, back pain and probably carrying a kilogram on my body for every kilometer of the race – you do the math.
Mother Nature wasn’t totally cruel as she at least provided natural air conditioning with over cast and cool conditions, far from the 40 degrees Celsius it would normally be. Having checked in at the hotel we (Greg James, myself and Jan du Toit, with Craig Kolesky and a mate joining us) had dinner at Brian’s Grill. While all the avid cyclist at the table went for steak (Why Jan ordered the fish and chips I would not know but he was not cycling) I ordered the pizza. Reason being, that pizza really worked for me at W2W although I could never eat as much pizza before a race as Shaun Roos does (and he weighs 60 odd kilograms). All carbo loaded and ready to race we went to sleep.
Arriving at the race start, bumping into to everyone one knows and feeling the excitement does bring out some adrenalin and anticipation to start riding. Off in the starting shoot and away we go. Now the start of a mountain bike race is always frantic as everyone jolts for position trying not to purposely bump someone out of the way, and I felt like it at the start. Give me my space!
Now I have done the first section of Attakwas in 2013 so I knew what to expect and rode at a comfortable pace within myself spending a lot of time with Craig on the bike, him showing off by taking photos while riding and sharing some good advice for the Absa Cape Epic challenge that lies ahead having done his first in 2013. So we ride, ride and ride with some decent climbs and arrive at the 2nd water point from where I bailed last year. So we enter the infamous Attakwas and then more bike walking (without a leash) became part of the challenge. Up and Up, and then a steep decent with a serious technical bit just before the famous Spur burger water point, that coach Swen Lauer would have been proud of if he saw me ride it. Then the Spur burger (chicken off course) and then the toughest part of the race, SERIOUS! It was tough. You think you finished with the tough part and then they bring on all these climbs, up and up and up and down and up and up and up and down and UP until you finally hit the finish line to a Mr. Paul Valstar doing what he does best! What and amazing feeling to have finished it and such a great experience to have ridden with Craig for most of the race (next time no cramps Craig) and well done to Greg for also finishing it – as we said – this was going to be our year we conquer Attakwas and so we did. Jan, the legend deserves a special mention, not only for his snoring on the Friday night, but also for looking after us and supporting us in this quest in making sure everything is organised.
Thank you to everyone and their well wishes beforehand and on the day and to
all the congratulations afterwards and support in doing the event. It was a great weekend, catching up with old acquaintances, seeing Karl, Stefan and Vincent of Team Bulls again, the Team ABSA guys with fellow KTM rider Kevin McCallum and Clayton Duckworth that handed me my first beer for 2014 (needless to say a second was enjoyed with Kevin) and so many more to name (so those I haven’t named as the blog is becoming too long, sorry, but know I appreciate everyone’s support)
Coach Swen (http://swenlauer.wordpress.com/services/coaching/), bring on the training plan and lets keep focussed on the Absa Cape Epic, thanks for you guidance and support and for the training plan that is clearly getting me up those hills.
Good luck to everyone that is doing the Half Ironman in East London this
weekend, Greg being mad enough to do the Half Ironman a week after Attakwas and a special mention to my friend Chantel Rall who kick a$$ in East London this week.
Go well Chantel, you will do it. All the hard work will pay off, you are an inspiration – http://www.theworldaccordingtoaprincess.co.za/p/my-journey-with-cancer.html
Until the next adventure
All images used in this post was taken by Craig Kolesky – http://craigkolesky.com/