Figuratively and literally blown away, what an amazing FNB Wines2Whales Adventure experience this year as the team from Stillwater Sports just keeps on improving on hosting the event and looking after the riders. Then of course the trails and changes in the route were a positive to have eliminated some of the tedious, and dare I say it, ‘horrible’ sections of the previous years. The riding was fantastic, so big up to Johan Kriegler, his team and the guys from Cape Trails. We do appreciate the hard work and effort put in that makes this another must ride event of the year. Congratulations to the W2W team and good luck with the Ride and Race. I am sure the riders will go away extremely pleased and ready to enter for 2015.
Now to the blown away part – as we checked the weather for the weekend we noticed that there would be a slight breeze blowing over the 3 days, called the Cape South Easter and as most in South Africa know, there is no such thing as a slight South Easter. The wind would be howling! Now after the 2013 mud wrestle through day 1 of Wines2Whales, the wind was just another challenge. The event could not have started better as my riding partner and I decided that our pre-race meal would be steak and red wine, as always a brilliant choice as we fluffed around with last minute logistics, packing and ensuring our KTM Scarp bikes (Beauty aka Princess and the Beast be in top shape for the event; and I am not cycling on Beauty, just saying) are prepped and Thinus making sure the misses, Loriaan and Thiaan the little one is all sorted in joining us at Arabella Hotel and Spa later on the Friday.
Anyway, we shoot through early morning to the start early morning and it was great to catch up with loads of familiar faces. Eventually we start and off we go on the first &^#@^&& of a climb and expecting it to be as bad as previously I was pleasantly surprised when the road was in prime condition and the climb got cut short by about 2kms – awesome. And then open space and wham! Straight into your face the slight 50km/h South Easter and the battle begins… We had a good day on the trails as the revised route was a breath of fresh air and Thinus did not fall too many times, not yet that is. Once over the historical Gantouw Pass the fun began as we hit single trail after single trail. Fantastic riding and even being blown around on the bike was not too bad as the fun element compensated for peddling harder into the wind at times. Day one done and dusted!
On the morning of day 2 as we left Arabella Hotel and Spa the golf flags were being bent over horizontally and we expected the slight breeze to provide a real challenge on the day. Day 2 is the fun day with 70% of the route being on single track and this is where my riding partner decided to be even more environmentally friendly as he would be known as The Tree Hugger after completion of this stage. I know one should not laugh at someone’s misfortune and it could turn out badly if one falls, but to see your cycling partner end up hanging onto a tree with the bike on top of him did have its hilarious moments…if only I rode with a video camera because there is more to come. We had another good day of fun on the bike, tree hugging aside and were looking forward to the last day. As it turned out one just accepts the wind, keep on riding; enjoy the spectacular single tracks and the tree hugging spectacle that goes with it to make it another memorable day.
Day 3 is supposed to be a fast day and after sorting out some last minute logistics again for that post-race transport we head on over Houw Hoek Pass in the slight drizzle, thinking: Oh my word, rain and wind! But fortunately the rain disappeared and we were only faced with fighting the South Easter on the bike, and of course those nasty trees that could jump at you looking for a cuddle or a hug. We raced off and after the 2nd water point Thinus got attacked by a sandy patch on the trail and the closest friend he could find was a lonely tree minding its own business just going through the photosynthesis process bru and then suddenly received a hug from a sweaty human trying not to nose dive into a sandy patch. Saved by the tree from an embarrassing dive into the sand pit, good save Thinus. Anyway I won’t go into too much detail on the route and the happenings out there, from suffering uphill (as I normally do) to racing at uncommonly high speeds through certain sections and smashing those fantastic single trails with technical brilliance, as I just wanted to say that this was an amazing event and thanks for riding with me Thinus.
Since my first Wines2Whales in 2011 I have shown a slight improvement in my mountain biking capabilities and form:
2011 – 25:17:48 (Yes that is 25 hours in the saddle over 3 days!)
2012 – 21:49:14 (Yes, still over 20 hours in the saddle)
2013 – 19:35.01 (Just made it under 20 hours and still weighed over 120kgs)
2014 – 15:01:35 Yeah Baby!
You all know about my journey and I am slightly lighter in weight than I used to be. It just shows that you can achieve something if you work hard towards it and align you with people that motivates and support you. So thanks to Evert Ferreira for riding with me over the first 3 Wines2Whales events and sticking with me patiently on the bike as I slugged on to the finish each day, appreciate the effort and support mate, and Wikkelspies for believing in me and encouraging me and always willing to go for a ride. Thanks to Thinus Crafford for this year pushing me (although he would deny it) to new levels of mountain bike riding throughout the year and to the Wines2Whales team for having me back each year after that first few races. To coach Swen Lauer for getting me on the right track and always helping with advise and support (Check out his training school – Pedal2Medal)
So the aim for next year would have to be to better the 15h mark. We finished 249th overall and 121st in our category. Super chuffed! Not that the results really matters as participating and completing it was all that it was about.
And not even the howling South Easter could damper and blow away the fun we had at the 2014 FNB Wines2Whales event.