…and with No Spandex Required.

So it’s been a bit slow as far as racing goes this last while, although I have spent quite a bit of time on my bike. I have to say that between getting things ready for our new arrival and trying to get a new section built on the DH track in the back yard, I really haven’t been very focused on racing my bikes. But a few months back, the friend that I rode last year’s sort Ama Shova with convinced me to enter the 106km race for this year.

We both decided that we were not prepared for such a long ride and so we did a few 60 odd kilometre “training” rides, out to Camperdown and back. I fitted a set of Intense Micro Knobby 2s (very fast rolling tires) on my wheels and put a 48T big chain ring on the front of my Morewood Shove, and was ready for a road race.

Race weekend started on Saturday afternoon with a drive up to Howick to get Des’ bus so we could all get up to the start on Sunday morning. Thanks Des. Then some last minute bike prep and a good dinner, before turning in early for a good night’s rest in preparation for a 4am start.

I must have been pretty excited, because I woke up before my alarm went off. Had a bit of breakfast, got dressed in my sweet Dakine XC kit and headed out to pick up the 7 people who were getting a lift up to PMB with me. I always forget how big these road races really are. I mean the 94.7 and Argus pull around 30 000 entries each year and Ama Shova, about 10 000. At half past 4 in the morning, if you see a car on the road they are usually people coming home from the jol, but every car I saw had bikes on the back.

We all got up to Maritzburg with enough time to get kitted up in the rain and get ourselves over to the start, to stand in the freezing rain for 20min before our stat time at about 7:30. Even if you loath spandex wearing roadies and vowed to never ever ride a road race, do yourself a favour and do one of the top three road races. Ride it on a DH bike if you want, just do it. There is nothing quite like standing around with between 5 and 30 thousand people, getting ready to “race”, riding down a closed highway with those same people, or seeing the myriad of weird and wonderful outfits on course. It’s really good fun. It’s the Fun Rider World Cup man.

It’s fun, but hard work. I mean 106km is still 106km and a 14kg trail bike is still 14kgs (I got lots of strange looks, with my fat tires and 760mm wide Race Face bar). The climbs where hard and the descents were fun. And the good feeling you get when you finish a long race was there. It’s amazing to be in the middle of the field, to see the pain a peoples’ faces as they try to get to the top of the next hill, and the total joy on their faces as they cross the line.

All in all an awesome day on the bike, hanging out with friends and hitting the beach after. I’m still feeling pretty stoked. Next year my goal is a sub 4 hour, but first the new section on the DH track to sort out and a bit of riding my bike in the dirt.

Time to go train.

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