Sunday the 7th of April saw the start of the Penny Pinchers MTB series with the first leg being the Simonsberg Classic.
If you recall, the previous post was more about the right up on how to prepare and what lay ahead of us. In there we chatted about the so called climbing and how it can be called the toughest climbing race in SA. Well I am here to tell you that they were spot on.
Sunday morning CL and I started an early morning drive to the Venue, to get registered and ready for a day of what we thought was going to be tough but never as tough as it was in the end. Once registered, set up our bikes, got into the mind set of what lay ahead and off we went off to the start. While at the start, whihc is on an uphill and chatting to Super-Jane as she is known by her Super-hero name, also known just as jane between 8-5 normal working hours, we started to realise that, this was going to be a long day, a very long day!
Off went the hooter for the start and as in all races and in good fashion, the chirps started flying around the riders "this pace is great" said the last guy at the back as we all took our time to get going (one guy even managed to fall into the vineyards and decided to have an early taste of next seasons merlot, he was ok and got back to the riding) As the climbing started, you could see that it was going straight up the valley, which was not that steep at first and slowly but surely we started getting to the top. As the field started to seperate early on from the start, one could sense that it was going to be a very interesting ride.
Over the first hill and straight away into some fantastic single-track which was really great fun, narrow and a little harrowing at times, but exciting. After the single track, we headed down past the vineyards, whihc seemed great, but as everyone knows, with a downhill there has to come an uphill...Newton's Third Law in essence, and thats what exactly happened, straight up into the next hill!
For the next odd 20Km or so, this is how the race would pan out. Up and down intervals, with some great single track and some spectacular views. At the half way mark, the first waterpoint, which was a great relief, I over heard the one organiser comment save your energy towards the last section. Once hearing this I thought, well I heard that in the beginning, the first section was tough, so what does this mean.
Off we went from the half way mark, into a downhill, some flat and straight back into the climbing. I would like to point out that at this stage, we had done more climbing than I have even seen in a 45Km race and I had a feeling it was not going to get better. With watching some much fitter guys in front of me already walking some of the climb, we knew we were in for it for the last part.
As the Km's started to taper down and getting closer to the end, with only 10Km to go, I thought ok now I can go for it, I had just got over quite a tough climb, which was very tough, as it was paired with a very technical rock garden single track, and at this stage my mind could not focus on something like that.
After the rock garden single track, that is when the steepest climb I think I have ever seen approached us. With nothing else to do but get off, put your head down and push...and push I did. It never seemed to stop but finally it did, and I was welcomed by two great-danes who decided to just chill and enjoy the view.
After the big climb, we al thought it was over, it was home-straight to the finish, but once again we all got it wrong, the organisers through in one more long cruel hill just to finish us off, and if you weren't separated by now from men and boys, this would have done it. Eventually hitting the concrete section it was a nice and well welcomed straight to the finish, where I met up with CL, who took a very heavy bail, but still finished as always and Super-Jane, who smashed a lot of the field on a 26er I may add, and all smiling....the day had come to an end and with that so did the climbing
Next in the series is the Hottentots-Holland Classic, also looking to be a tough but very good challenge for all riders a like.
Play in the Mud and Stay Dirty!