#ConquerAsOne Entry: Francois Esterhuizen
This is an entry to the Absa Cape Epic #ConquerAsOne competition, submitted and written by Francois Esterhuizen.
Myself & Gavin Kilpatrick have set our minds on doing the 2019 Absa Cape Epic.
Neither of us have the funds to do this event and we are planning to raise funds for charity to help us realise this dream. The #ConquerAsOne competition will make it possible to donate all our funds raised to a worthy charity.
My partner Gavin, is a visually impaired rider with a Bronze medal in track cycling (on a tandem) at the Beijing Paralympics, among his cycling credentials.
In November 2017 I had the honour to have Gavin as my stoker during the Coronation Double Century. During this ride, a dream was born. Gavin mentioned that he had only been on a MTB tandem once and said he’d love to do more off road events.
We committed to doing the 2019 Absa Cape Epic, and our first event would be a proper test, the “Hell of the South” better known as the Attakwas Extreme MTB race.
Bearing in mind that that Gavin had only ever done one single mountain bike ride, this was one very ambitious goal. But knowing Gavin and his past achievements, I had no doubt that we would be successful.
Because we don’t live close to each other, our first ride on the MTB tandem was the Friday morning prior to the Attakwas event. After a successful test it was all systems go.
On race day the first 65km were smooth sailing and we were heading for a very respectable time. But then disaster struck, though a rocky water section we punctured both wheels. 6 plugs and 3 large CO2 cannisters later we were on our way.
We had to stop repeatedly to inflate the tyres. At the next waterpoint we replaced the rear tyre and onward we cycled.
Despite the new tyre (which was not ideal for the weight of two riders), we had to stop on a regular basis to inflate our tyres. Then the muddy roads started and our woes continued. We bent our chain, tried to nurse it to the next waterpoint but eventually damaged the rear derailleur and had to walk 3km to the next tech support station.
After a lengthy stop we were back in action.
Despite all of these dramas we never lost our sense of humour, testimony of a real bond between two tandem riders.
One new tyre, 10 large CO2 cannisters, at least 10 tubeless plugs, one new chain-link, one new rear derailleur, we finished in just over 9h30min.
(Our actual riding & walking time was just under 7h30min, so we spent 2 hours fixing various issues).
I would be so bold as to say Gavin must be the very first rider who can boast that his first official MTB event was the Attakwas Extreme MTB.
The highlight for me was that we managed to ride all the technical descents and never had a sense of humour failure under very trying conditions.
Two riders on one bike, a true #ConquerAsOne performance!