I needed to be up at 5am to drop my car off at secure parking before 6am. There were shuttles taking us up to the Buffelsdrift for the start of stage 1, so after dropping car a bunch of us piled into a mini-van. There was an interesting cross section of riders in the van, from top sponsored riders to back markers. I always find the banter interesting.
As we got dropped off, everyone had to leave their bags at the baggage truck and we caught a lift up to the start. I had left my bike at the bike park the day before, so I had to check out my bike and make sure everything was still fine with the bike seeing it had rained all night.
While I was waiting for the start of the race I realized that it was definitely going to rain, but unfortunately I had no rain coat with me, mine was in my bag in the baggage truck. The main sponsor Bridge had been giving out rain coats and kit to selected riders, so I managed to wangle myself a new rain jacket just in time for the start.
Just before stage 1 started the rain started pouring down, this meant a tough day of riding and our bikes were going get destroyed. At first the roads seemed fine, but soon we moved off the district roads and onto jeep tracks that we’re predominantly clay. The combination of the clay and rain made for interesting riding or should I say walking. Very quickly riders were forced from riding to cleaning clay off wheels and frame to walking. This stop start process affected the entire field, even the pros were struggling. Bikes were breaking left right and center. I have never in my life seen so many broken hangouts, derailed and chains.
After about 10km of stop start walking riding, we moved onto more rideable terrain and we were able to consistently ride for long stretches. I managed to keep a decent speed up for a while, but then due to constant rain even the district roads became sticky and tiring. This went on for most of the race, the worst was that I started getting chain suck, which forced me to stay in big blade and tired my legs out. Then we hit more clay and were forced to start walking again. I eventually finished in a time of 6hrs 15min.