The sixth day of the joBerg2c is probably the toughest of the event, but thankfully the race follows the advice of the good book and on the seventh day we rest. – By David Moseley
Tomorrow (today when you read this) the ride hits Sani2c territory, so the stage is a brisk 80km from our current venue in Himeville to McKenzie Club near Ixopo.
But first, day 6. Well, it was everything the event organisers promised. Long, hilly, hilly and long. But to break it all up there were incredibly fun sections of single track, some of the best I’ve ever ridden. It was a day of grumbles and grins.
In the beginning, though, there was climbing. The first lung buster was a steep burst at the 22km mark. The climb is called Gumtree – not for the foliage, but rather because riders might be tempted to post their bikes on the classified site half way to the top. It was a beast, but definitely rideable.
Myself and the Devlan Limousins Des and Phil safely negotiated the climb and enthusiastically made our way towards Harrison’s Pass, a spectacularly crafted switchback descent that features almost 30 twisty turns. Left, right, left, right all the way down; riders were treated to an incredible few kilometres of mountain biking. If you want to experience something special on a bike, them day 6 of the joBerg2c is where it can be found.
Some handled Harrison’s Pass better than others though. This rider, technically capable if somewhat iffy on the left-turns, enjoyed it immensely. Many others though might want to consider honing their technical riding skills between now and their next stage race. Coming to a dead standstill on a steep decline is never going to end well.
After the pass there was some typical joBerg2c riding – up, down, up, down – until another trail called Rock ’n Roll. This was music to mine and the Devlan Limousins’ ears. The name describes the trail perfectly. It was rocky and just rolled down. What a treat to swish through, over and across boulders, jagged rocks, muddy ditches and crumbling stones. The trail flowed beautifully, but also offered a rewarding technical challenge. That, I’m afraid to report however, is where the fun ended for quite some time for day 6 of this event is sexy but serious at the same time.
Next up was a never-ending climb called Slow Poison. Riding through a forest, you wind your up for what seems like ages. The bumpy, grassy ‘road’ takes you in and out of a forest with every turn promising a summit with wide-open vistas, but delivering only more road to the top. By this stage Des had found his legs – we diesel engines sometimes need a 60km warm-up period – but Phil and I were dawdling off the pace and attempting to open a tricky Zambuk container while riding to take out minds off the climbing. Phil eventually opened it, but I quickly averted my eyes so I never saw where the cure-all green gunk ended up on Phil’s person.
Eventually Slow Poison releases all its venom, and you arrive at the start of a sweet single track in the Sappi Forest. This sends you downhill at a rate of knots, where the trail opens to another single track called Skyfall where if you took a moment to look (you shouldn’t) you could probably see the ocean. It was excellent, a fitting reward for the long uphill toil.
There were a few more bumps to the finish near Himeville, but all was going swimmingly until the impressive frame of Phil was too much for the not so impressive frame of his bike. No longer able to ride, Phil strolled the last three kilometres to the finish with Des and I escorting him home like fighter pilots guiding a stricken commercial airline to a safe landing. It was a fitting end to a day that had it all.