Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Grape Escape Day 1

The Grape Escape is taking place from 28 February until 2 March and the Argus MTB Challenge follows that on Sunday 3 March. I have committed to all four days, so it should be good preparation for the Ride to Rhodes in June.

My friends Mike Smit and Danie Kotze were also scheduled to ride and we agreed to pool travelling to and from the race. On Wednesday evening we loaded all three bikes onto Mike’s car and agreed to leave at 05:15 on Thursday morning for the start at Riebeek Kasteel.

We managed to get going by 05:20 and arrived in Riebeek Kasteel just after 05:25, in good time to unload the bikes and grab some eats for the breakfast that was available.

The race got going promptly at 07:00. The first kilometer was supposed to be a neutral zone, but the pace was anything but “neutral”. By the time we hit the gravel. Mike was gone, I was in the middle of the pack and Danie was towards the back. At 19 kilometers I had to stop to pick up my water bottle when I missed the bottle cage after taking a drink. To make matters worse, somebody rode over it and it, the top popped off and it was empty. Fortunately I had enough water in my backpack. The first 23 kilometers was on district and good farm roads with no major ups or downs, but then we took a right turn and the road suddenly started climbing! The first 3 kilometers was a gentle climb and then we started some serious elevation changes and most of it was going up! During the next 19 kilometers we climbed 554 meters and descended 558 meters. The most difficult ones was a climb of 143 meters in one kilometer and 116 meter in half a kilometer.

The next 14 kilometers were mostly district roads again and then we hit the slops of Groenberg, climbing from 94 to 360 over a distance of 11 kilometer. This also included some nice single tracks, some of it amongst blue gum trees. From then on it was downhill to the finish line, which I crossed after 4:39:51 and 78.47 kilometer and 1,556 meters of elevation gain. Mike finished in a time of 4:28:28 and Danie in 4:55:10. Mike was 3rd and I was 4th in our age group.

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