Sunday, November 24, 2013

Eselfontein MTB

As our team captain did not get our entry for the Coronation Double Century, which took place on Saturday 23 November 2013, in on time, resulting in no DC this year, I opted for the Eselfontein MTB in Ceres, which took place on the same day. My friend, Danie Kotze decide to join me and we set course for Ceres at 06:00 on Saturday morning to be in time for the 08:30 start. We arrived at Eselfontein just after 07:00, collected our numbers and had ample time for the start on the race. The weather was glorious with the temperature at 19 degrees Celsius and promising to get hotter as the day progressed.

We got going just after 08:30, heading down from the manor house towards to hills south of the farm. The first couple on kilometers were on farm roads and jeep tracks. After about 5 km we started hitting the famous Eselfontein single tracks, which has been used extensively on the Absa Cape Epic. These were free flowing and mostly on level terrain with some slight down hills. We also had to cross some steams resulting in wet feet, but with the fantastic weather that dried quickly. After about 30 minutes we picked up the splendid singles tracks through the local forest. This lasted for approximately 15-20 minutes with beautiful flowing tracks through the forests on the farm.

After we got out of the forests, we crossed over to the hill north west of the farm and the first serious climb of the day starting at 520 meters and topping out at 777 meters over a distance of 6 kilometers. This was followed by a very technical downhill of 3.5 kilometers descending down to 561 meters, followed by another climb to 737 meters over the next 3 kilometers. What goes up must come down so we went down to 541 meters over the next 8 kilometers. After a short lull 2 kilometers with little climbing, we got to the monster of the day. At 36 kilometers we started a climb from 550 meters to 1,014 meters over a distance of 8 kilometers to the highest point of the day. The scenery from here was truly breathtaking with a view over the whole Ceres valley right up to Mitchell's Pass. This followed by a downhill, which was fairly free flowing, with some technical bits thrown in, down to 555 meters over a distance of 8 kilometers.

We then did the first section where we started out this morning, before the forests, but in reverse. On this section I picked up a rider who seemed familiar. On enquiry in turned to be August Cars tens, fellow Freedom Challenger and adventurer who rode from Kilimanjaro to Pietermaritzburg during May/June 2012. We really had a nice ride and chat for the last 5 kilometers to the finish.

This really was an awesome ride with most of the route made up of purpose built single tracks. A route really worthwhile traveling 305 kilometers for. The average temperature for the day was 30 degrees Celsius with a maximum of 38! It was really hot in the valleys, but we were fortunate to give a cool breeze on the hills.

Total time was 4:22:52 for a distance of 62.97 kilometers and 1,419 meters of climbing and 1.412 meters of elevation loss.   

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