The morning of stage 1 of the 2017 Cape Pioneer Trek was a chilly affair with overcast conditions and a little downpour underscoring proceedings ahead of the start.
Thankfully, things cleared up quite nicely before we set off on a 7km neutral zone saunter through the streets of Mossel Bay, a peloton parade through the town complete with police escort if you will. Things soon turned pretty fast as the racing began.
Open district roads and jeep track were the order of the morning, which kept the average speeds and heart rates pretty high before heading into the first single-track of the day. Flowing and steep in some sections offered riders pristine views of the Mossel Bay area as well as some of the indigenous vegetation that comprises this region. We made a concerted effort to ride within ourselves – after all, with 6 days still to go we stayed true to our strategy and finished the day strong instead of fading. The route was superb. Especially when we entered the Gondwana Nature Reserve at around the 50km mark. While we unfortunately never got to experience any of the wildlife (apparently the Big 5 roam these parts freely) we did see lots of spoor and animal droppings so they couldn’t have been too far away…
The animals we did see however, were in abundance – cows, cattle and ostrich were everywhere, especially in the open fields we negotiated. Speaking of ostrich, the steaks offered at water-point 3 were out of this world! The remainder of the course was fast and furious as we made our way past Dias beach and back to the race village at Milkwood School. The route as a whole was not very technical but the nature of the terrain took its toll on riders and bikes. Tomorrow’s 71km/1550m awaits us and, while it may not sound too intimidating, the elevation is sure to burn the legs and lungs.