Monday, May 20, 2013

Nedbank Sani2C IV: We won! Sort of.

Three hundred and flippin’ eleventh. Granted, to some folk that might not be an impressive placing, but to the two members of Team Cotic it’s right up there with pulling on a yellow lycra jersey and being smooched by a couple of young French lasses.

After 3 days and 270km of brilliant single-track descents, fast flat bits, and murderous climbs we finished the 2013 Nedbank Sani2C Race in 311th place. That’s 311th out of 746 finishers. Top half of the field. Not bad for two old ballies on rigid-fork, single-speed bikes. Frankly I’m a little surprised it wasn’t the lead story in the papers over the weekend.

Yup, the 3rd and final stage was another good one for Matthew de Jongh and I. After one of its members nearly wept and gave up on Day 1, Team Cotic just got stronger and stronger, blitzing the last 84km to finish in a total time of 14h 49 min. Day Three had its challenges mind you – it was still a little muddy from the previous day’s rain and when you come across a climb sign-posted “Work To Be Done Climb” you know you’re about to step back into that private world of hurt you’ver become so well acquainted with over the last few days. Which brings me to what may seem like a gratuitous plug for our sponsors, but is in fact some valuable advice for anyone thinking of doing something similar.  Copy and paste this…

1. Get your nutrition right.  Being properly fuelled throughout an endurance event is some crucial shit. Trust me. Keeping our bottles filled with Isostar’s Long Distance Energy mix, their Hydrate & Perform mix, and popping the odd Energy Gel late in the race hauled our butts up and over some pretty sizey climbs.

2. You need performance eyewear. Even if the sun isn’t shining. Day 2 and 3 were overcast and I could see a bunch of guys riding without their sunnies. Idiots. It was also helluva muddy and without Oakley’s Radar Lock XL eyeshields stopping a continuous spray of mud facewards, it would’ve been an even tougher endeavour. I also got wacked in the face a few time by various pieces of vegetation along the many kays of single-track. Our Oakleys were indispensable.

3. An air of superiority helps too. There’s nothing like knowing ones kit is cooler than everyone else’s to give one that crucial psychological boost. Thanks to African Nature’s soon-to-be-launched range of merino wool performance apparel we had both the warmest and most exclusive base/mid/shell layer tops around. This natural wool wonder fabric is light, naturally wicks away moisture, and was incredibly warm on some chilly KZN Midland nights. Keep an eye on their website.

4. Pick a partner you get on with. Even if he farts a lot. On something like Sani2C – and especially when you do it on a single-speed bike – you not only get to know yourself a lot better, but also the person you’re doing it with.  The two of you really need to get along. Not only will the route test your relationship, but so will the confines of a small two-man tent. Fortunately Matthew De Jongh is a top bloke. Ja. Perhaps a little too fond of the hard-boiled eggs he’d swallow whole at every feeding station on the route (and yes I can confirm the correlation between hard-boiled eggs and flatulence), but his humour and encouragement spoke volumes more than the trumpet in his pants.

5. Get yourself a bullet-proof bicycle. There were those who laughed at our steel-framed, single-speed Cotics. Not for long though. Initially we were on the receiving end of some condescending smiles as the geared brigade breezed past us on the flat stretches when our single gear meant we were spinning along unable to get much past 20-odd km/h. Funnily enough those grins looked a little more forced when Matt and I sailed past them on the climbs. And collapsed altogether when all the mud caused the rear suspension and derailleurs of their fancy carbon dual-sussers to fail. Ha ha effing ha.

All in all a great event then. And one made even more pleasant by the fact that neither Matt or I fell into the sea. It was a close call. The final few hundred metres of the race saw us riding on a floating, wobbly, narrow, winding plastic pontoon bridge up the middle of the Scottburgh lagoon and across the shoreline up to the grassy knoll finish. It was genuinely difficult. Especially after 269km.  And especially when you realise your new iPhone 5 is in your pocket. It’s the kind of situation that tends to focus one’s mind.

Thanks for that Farmer Glen.

You have to give it to the guy and his team though… they organise a brilliant event. This is one race I am definitely doing again.