Sunday, November 9, 2014

Wine2Whales Day 1

31 October to 2 November 2014 was time for the Wine2Whales MTB from Lourensford, Somerset West to Onrus next to Hermanus on the Southern Cape coast. Mike Smit and myself managed to get an entry again and were ready for this annual outing. We left Blouberg at 05:30 to ensure that we get to Lourensford in good time to sort out the vehicles transfer to Onrus and hand in our luggage for transfer to Oak Valley.

We were seeded in Group E and our starting time was 07:40. A light breakfast was provided and we had some yoghurt and fresh fruit to “pep” us up for the day. The first stage was from Lourensford via the foothills behind the farm, over the Gantouw Pass, which was used by the Voortrekkers 200 years ago, on to Oak Valley in the Elgin/Grabouw district.

In contrast to last year, the weather was just about perfect. We left on time and were immediately confronted with some serious climbing. In the first 5 km we climbed 347 meters. In the next 15 km, to the first water point, we lost a net 278 meters, but it did include some gentle climbing with a net additional gain of 159 meters. It took us 1:17 to complete this 20 km. This was followed by a 21 km stretch during which was gained 641 meters but also lost 486 meters, so we had our fair share on ups and downs.

The next stretch included Gantouw Pass, a compulsory portage section which is 1 km and took us 23 minutes to complete. I enclose some photos of the wagon tracks etched out in the rocks! It is amazing what those guys managed!
Once over the top, we were treated to the most amazing single tracks.
During the next 10 km we probably did not do more than 200 meters on either jeep tracks or district roads. The one single track led into the next one. It really was a joy to ride and that brought us to the last water table. The last section of 17 km included some more single tracks as well as some district roads and farm tracks, all in good condition with 332 meters of ascent and 481 meters of descent.

At the finish we were treated with a Spur Burger and had an opportunity to get our bikes washed and cleaned. After a warm shower the afternoon was spent relaxing in the FNB rider lounge.  Support was served from 17:30 and included the most amazingly well prepared steaks, Thai chicken, vegetables, salads and chocolate mouse. Faircape diaries provided the drinks, of which there was no shortage.  A bar was available for those who wanted something a little bit stronger. We retired to our tents at about 20:00.

Total time 5:08:00; 73.54 km; 2,028 meters elevation gain; 1,822 meters elevation loss; average speed 14.3 k.p.h. We finished 155 out of 609 teams and 13th in the 50+ age group.

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