“Sometimes we ride our bikes and find ourselves in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere we find ourselves.” – By Renay Groustra
I read this gem of a quote inside a porter loo in McGregor, right before the start of the Ride to Nowhere. Where is McGregor you ask? It’s near Robertson, pretty much near the middle of nowhere if you must know!
I came to this event under slightly unfamiliar circumstances. I was there to ride, but not to race, and in doing so help promote my nutritional sponsor who has been involved with this event over the last two years. Funnily enough, the rest of the field wasn’t really there to race either. The Ride to Nowhere is more of an event than a race itself, with the sole purpose being getting out there on your bike, while sharing a relaxing weekend with your family.
The three day full event covers an average of 60km a day, while the short option covers roughly half of that. As per the opening quote, the organisers certainly did put in a lot of effort in the details to make this a small, high quality event with good old small town hospitality.
Teaming up with Dr Jeroen Swart, who founded Cadence Nutrition, I was keen to see what my body might get up to after eight weeks off the bike after finding out I had contracted glandular fever. During the last eight weeks, I had been resting completely with minimal riding. As I found out over the next three days, the route certainly didn’t disappoint, and offered a greatly varying degree of terrain.
The highlight for day one, was that climb. Everyone was talking about it! We were greeted with slightly rainy, windy and cold conditions on the first day. Most of the climbing also happened in the first half of the day, and our second climb went straight up into the clouds. It took us about an hour to ascend the technical loose road (I use that term loosely) in the gale force winds.
The climb was well worth it, as the descent had awesome single track most of the way down, which brought a smile back to our faces and feeling back to our hands. Busting back out of the clouds to amazing views out over the valley was a really memorable moment. We surprised ourselves by finishing as the second team over the line, which was never really the goal in the first place, but hey, we’ll take it.
The great thing about this event, is that every day was vastly different. Day two turned out to be the hardest, due to the fact that the climbing was spread out evenly throughout the route, and the terrain was mostly technical jeep track, which made for slow going.
We picked our way through the stage, survived a puncture and just managed to survive being “chicked”. We had maybe let things get a little too relaxed, and with 10km to go a mixed team caught us. Let’s just say Jeroen found an extra gear.
Heading into the final day, we were lying second overall, my body seemed to be holding up, and we had a relatively straight forward 51km to negotiate to the finish. We took advantage of our strengths, and made a small gap early on over the technical descents which we grabbed with both hands and held on for dear lives over the rolling day three course, avoiding punctures, bonking, and most importantly getting chicked!
Our tactic paid off well as we managed to cross the line as first team on the day, health, limbs, and integrity intact. Each finisher of the event got to bottle their own bottle of wine, which was a great little touch to a great little event, along with other things such as free wireless and home cooked meals.
I am also pleased to say that my body responded in a very positive way, and things seem to be back on track for full tilt racing in the near future. As an unplanned last minute weekend for us, I am super glad I made the trip out to this awesome little event. See you next year McGregor!
Until next time,
Keep it Rubber Side Down.