I must admit, I am an unashamed fan of the Old Mutual joBerg2c. – By David Moseley
I love everything about this race; the mielie brood, the trails, the people at the water points who insist on feeding you freshly braaied boerewors rolls, and the Nottingham Road Brewery Pig Rig that follows the race around for eight days and serves crisp locally-made ales. My favourite: the Pickled Pig Porter, which is moody yet elegant (much like yours truly) – and tastes damn fine.
However, as we are in the misty KZN Midlands tonight – Clifton Preparatory School in Nottingham Road to be exact – it’s a red wine evening. If you are going to ride this event, you need to do it properly; stop to take pictures, embrace the long days, and guzzle back as much ‘race fuel’ as you can. My strategy of two Pickled Pigs and then on to the cab sav has been a success over the last two days.
Today, the 120km trek from Winterton to Nottingham Road, was simply a smashing mountain bike experience. Granted, it’s a long day in the saddle. But just about everything is thrown at you to make the kilometres fly by.
The start out of the Em’seni camp took us straight up a lovely little bushveld climb and then onto some flowing single track towards the old race venue of the Winterton Country Club.
As I’ve thrown my riding lot in with Des and Phil – Team Devlan Limousins (and not Limousin Angus as previously reported) – we started again in batch D with the strategy of going slow at the start, slow in the middle, and slow at the end.
It was a winning tactic yesterday, and it proved similarly successful today, except for the one time Des broke ranks and charged down a rutted farm road only to hit a rut and fall into a mielie field that wasn’t actually a mielie field but rather a smelly drainage ditch. Phil and I then kindly insisted on letting him lead the way up the climbs, down the hills and on the flats.
But what a day it was after that. The changing scenery of day 5 is really something to behold as you move from bushveld to rough-around-the-edges farm lands to manicured farm lands to lush Nottingham Road. It’s hard to believe that you’re in one province at times, such are the changes that greet you every time you look up and around.
The route highlights included the first 30km, the climb up to Zulu Waters Nature Reserve and the excellent company of Phil and Des, with Phil declaring himself to be the André Greipel of our trio thanks to his ability to sprint like a beast. Mind you, this talent only presents itself on steep downhills. When the first hint of a climb appears “the Gripe” drops mysteriously to the back of our three-man train.
The distance makes the day tough, but as ever, the water points get you through. Today there were freshly made Nutella flapjacks, doughnuts, cheese and ham sandwiches, and at the penultimate water point, bacon, cheesy sausages, pork sausages and all manner of fillings that this rider managed to squeeze into one giant ‘nutrition bomb’. A nearby farmer gave me an approving nod as he said to his chums, “that guy has done this before.” Indeed I have, and Indeed I hope to do more.
Tomorrow is another biggie, a 99km hit from Nottingham Road to Glencairn Farm in Himeville, with a hearty 2000m of climbing. But thankfully the ever-faithful Pig Rig will be waiting at the finish.