Monday, January 21, 2013

Attakwas (English)



On Friday 18 January Danie Kotze and myself hit the road to Oudtshoorn for the 2013 Attakwas. Danie was very excited as he took delivery of his new 29er on Thursday and was looking forward to putting it to test. We arrived in Oudtshoorn lust after 17:00 and made our way to the registration at Kleinplaas. There after it was quick visit to Pick n Pay to buy the necessary for supper and a well-deserved nights rest at NA Smit Resort. After a nice "braai" and listening to Lance Armstrong's confessions, we went to bed.

As the race was starting at 06:30, we decided to get there by 06:00 That meant we had to get up at 05:30 for a quick breakfast and off to Chandelier. Our "chauffeur" dropped us on Wednesday and we therefore decided to make use of the shuttle back from Groot Brak after the race. That meant that we had to leave some clean clothes and our tents with the bus. After I located the shuttle, it was back to the car to assemble bikes and make our way to the start area. 

The first group left at 06:00 sharp. We were in group B and left at 06:35. The grouping worked very well and eliminated most of the "bunching" during the first couple of kilometers. We made good progress and it was quite easy to pass or to get passed. The pace was good and I was feeling good. The veld was typical Karoo. Grayish but not arid dry. The Karoo has it own special "beauty". The first water point was brought closer to the start and I got there after 1:10. I garb a couple of glasses of Coke and half a banana and get going again. From here to water point 2 the terrain is fairly ruff with a number serious climbs. My new 29er is working well and I enjoy the hills and have little problem with the sandy patches. I also meet up with Fred van Zyl, who won my age group during the year when I did my first Attakwas.We chat a little, including commenting on his riding the Imana Wind Ride. Water point 2 comes just after the crossing of the Oudtshoorn /Mossel Bay road at the foot of Robertson Pass. I pick a bottle of USN, stop for a couple of glasses of Coke and something to eat. My time to here is 2:20. That is 15 minutes better than last year and I am on to finish between 7:15-7:30! From here to Bonnie dale we go through the famous Attakwas Kloof. The beauty of the nature is awesome, but the road is very rocky with some serious hills. Even though my new bike is climbing better than the old 26-inch wheels, there are still sections of two hills that necessitated some pushing. The big challenge is the downhill just before Bonniedale! It is not long and I get there. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, there is a slow rider in front of me and due to the fact that I can not get past, I am compelled to get of briefly. I managed to get past towards the bottom race down the hill towards the river on my way to water point 3. I hit the sandy hill on the approach in the wrong gear is once again have to dismount and push the last 30 meters. Water point 3 is known as the Spur stop because we get a Spur Burger. My bicycle get a quick rinse and oil while my water bottle is filled with Coke and I have a eat. Time to here is 4:01, 30 minutes better than 2012! A 20-25 Southeasterly wind awaits us on the last 50 km, so I expect to loose some of this advantage on my way to the finish. We now hit a 7 km climb during which we accent 206 meters. This takes 37 minutes, followed by some nice riding through some pine forests to water point 4. 

Here I fill my water bottle again with Coke, eat some of the delicacies they have and hit the road. The rout goes through the veld for about 2 km, through a river and up the other side to join up with a district road again. I come upon some grazing cattle that insist on walking where I am supposed to ride! After some careful navigation, I am through and through the river, which is about 20 meters wide but only about 4 mm deep with mostly solid rock banks to ride across. As I get out on the other side, I suddenly a "sloppy" feeling from my back tire. I stop and find that it needs some air. I take of my backpack, get one of my air canisters and connect it to the valve. First problem, the canister is empty! I get another one out, and put some air in the tire, but to my dismay I here the ominous sound of a tire deflating fairly fast. On inspection I notice a cut in the side of my tire. Fortunately it is not right through. I now have three options: take the wheel off and put a tube in; take the wheel off and patch the cut; try to plug the hole and hope it works. I get the necessary equipment out and plug the hole. I inflate this with my last air canister. It seems to work! I pack everything back in my rucksack and get going again. The whole I am worried that the plug is not going to hold because of the cut. This happened at 86 km after 5:33, about 31 minutes faster than last year. The exercise probably cost me 5-10 minutes. There are still 35 km left and if the tire does not hold, it could become a long day. We now tend to rid in groups, which have the benefit that I can ask for some help if my wheel goes flat again. The end of the plug now touches the frame every time the wheel rotates. This is more of an irritation than a problem. We form a group of three that works well together and make good time. I look at the wheel regularly, but cannot notice anything. It does feel as firm as it should be, but if seems to be holding out. I decide to "push” the wheel issue aside and concentrate on riding. All goes well and we get to water point 5. I fill my water bottle with Coke, get some eats and the chain oiled and hit the road again. The wheel slips my mind and I even forget to check the tire pressure. There is only 19 km left, with one serious hill and some wind to finish this off. It seems as though I will finish between 7:30-7:45. The South Easter is not too bad. In fact it helps with cooling things down. With some extra effort from our side we can maintain a good pace. At the top of the last hill I hook up with Sean and Liesbet Kristafor. They started 5 minutes after me and Sean is setting the pace. Only 2 km left. 7:30 is doable! Now it is downhill to the end. 1 km left. We get to the last turn and negotiate the cement road to the finish line. I finish in 7:29:51, 24 minutes better than last year. 234 out of 654 finishers and 4th in age group. A good result for a hard day’s’ cycling! Climbing 2,656 meter over 120 km. The winning time is 4:56 by Christof Sauser, who won the Cape Epic with Burry Sander last year!



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