This past weekend I was lucky enough to take part in the inaugural Ride2Nowhere, a 3 day Mountain Bike stage race based in the beautiful town of McGregor. This 3 day ride saw us covering an average of 60km per day through some of the most incredible terrain that I have ridden.
An early Friday morning (4am!) saw my partner, Rob Gilmour and I heading out along the N1 for what was going to be a great first day of riding. Having unfortunately missed the comedic race briefing the night before, word in the race village that morning was that there were some serious climbs in the first 20km of the stage. And serious they were, we seemed to climb forever, on a variety or surfaces that challenged all the riders. It was here where Rob took his first Gu, at roughly 18km in, yes, 18km! Luckily for us, the first water point was just down the hill where the friendly crew were offering an amazing spread of food and drink, including some award winning wine, which obviously one has to try, especially with another 40km to ride! A nice mellow ride to next highlight of the day, the dam crossing on inflatable boats.
We had been chasing the leading ladies team of Ariane Kleinhans and Liane De Jager after they passed us at water point one without stopping while we enjoyed a glass of Rose. The Rose put us in a chivalrous mood and we offered to paddle them across the dam. Ariane, knowing a thing or two about paddling and having seen us tucking into the Rose politely declined the offer. From then on it was game on, we had to win the canoe race…
Being a seasoned paddler I was quite looking forward to this but as we sat down in the limply inflated boat the water poured over the sides and my visions of exercising my best Dusi stroke vanished and we rowed kiddy style across the dam with a bit more talking and joking than usual between us, especially Rob, such a lightweight! I actually think he was a bit too tipsy to paddle himself across so I had the honour of paddling him and our 2 bikes across. From here it was a gentle ride through to the finish, where we had out first experience of the amazing catering.
Friday evening was loads of fun, with Paul Valstar and Hendrick Lemmer, speaking in his best Chinese accent (Ching Chong Chow), keeping us highly entertained during the prize giving and route briefing for stage 2. A fairly early night was had by most, with stage 2 being the longest of all 3.
Saturday dawned with fabulous weather, a balmy 28 deg in the Breede Valley. Once again we set off at a fairly sedate pace until the first water point, where some of the guys bolted off, leaving Rob and I trying to wolf down some potatoes, marshmallows, biscuits and pretty much everything else they had to try. At most races we ride water points are a chaotic bun fight to fill bottles and grab a banana or two. This was not the case this weekend where a lavish spread was laid on for riders including wine tasting, sweets and savory items. This meant pretty much everyone tucked in and it broke the riding up nicely with loads of water point banter. It was a lonely ride for the next 10km until the ladies team of Ariane Kleinhans and Liana de Jager joined us along with Shan Wilson. At water point 2 we caught up with the mens team of Erik Kleinhans and Christiaan Kriek who were having some tyre issues. We rolled gently through to the final climb of the day where we split up a bit, but regrouped on the decent. It was on this decent that I reckon 80% of the field hit the same thorn bush at about 50km/h, leaving some good scratches on our right arms, now commonly known as the Ride2Nowhere tattoo.
After another great lunch and lazy afternoon nap, things started kicking off at the race village at around 6pm, with live music enticing the entire McGregor and Robertson community to come and join in the festivities. The vibe was amazing, and being one to never turn my back on a good party, so started a night I wont forget in a while. Another hilarious presentation of prizes, some good local fire throwing, incredible award winning Lords wine and a night sky that I have not experienced for ages combined into something special. An ill timed flat phone battery was the only mini crisis of the night, I could not get hold of Rob and my keys to the guesthouse without waking up their young daughter Kate, so I curled up on the outside couch for a fairly good nights sleep under the stars.
I awoke Sunday slightly under the weather, but a good amount of Futurelife and coffee sorted me out for the final day of riding. Although it was the shortest day, it turned out to be the toughest, with 1400m climbing in 56km. Again, the group split as we crested the first couple of climbs, only to rejoin as we got water point 2. When I say rejoin, there was always Louise Knipe way out front with Jan Schutte chasing, with a fair size bunch rolling along behind together.
This event is special, and I can see it becoming one of the most popular events on the calender. Everything was incredibly well organised, from catering, bike wash, route and entertainment. I think you will find it hard to top this event, we will definitely be back. Well done to Eulogy and her team (Cycle Lab Tours & Events), I have started recruiting friends and family for next year, I cant wait.
Thanks to Greg Beadle for the use of his photos – www.beadlephoto.com