This past weekend was a serious baptism of fire for me. Why? I headed to Zuurberg in the Addo region – yes, where the elephants roam etc – for my first stage race…
Having spent the last few weeks trying to get more saddle time and not let winter beat me I was feeling alot more comfortable with +2hr rides ( my regular rides are in the Baakens Valley and 1.5 hrs of technical / fun stuff! ) . However, when the offer / invite came to ride the event with Paul Ingpen ( of Mountain Bike magazine ) I was excited and nervous all at the same time.
We spoke at 9am the Saturday before the event and I had until 5pm that day to decide. Saturday vibes kicked in and by 5pm I had agreed to join Paul for the event. Right – now I have 4 days to get myself ready …
First thing to do for me was to try and get my VIPA TRAIL prototype a bit lighter – having been playing on this bike for the past 8 months the weight of the build ( I always have sample or prototype stuff on my bikes ) was never a concern – but that ALL CHANGED with the thought of riding +5hr days on the bike. With some choice swaps done I managed to get the weight down to a very respectable 11.4kg – that with 120mm front and rear / ZTR Arch Mk3 Wheelset / Reba 29er Boost fork / my comfy Fizik Nisene saddle and some other bits and bobs I can’t talk about : )
Day 1 – 68km and 4h57m later. Wow!!! Hard, fun and absolutely #finished up Zuurberg pass. ( note: we had to climb the 8km pass to get back to the start/finish on Day 1 and Day 3 – sick sense of humor the race organizers have indeed! )
Day 2 – the Queen Stage – 78km and 5h55m later. This was the longest stage but for some reason I enjoyed it more than Day 1 – maybe the variety of the terrain, maybe the feeling of having conquered what could have been my nemesis or maybe just because I realized Day 3 was gonna be MY KINDA RIDING DAY!
Day 3 – the Play Day – 50km and ??h??m later. The time was irrelevant – the fun factor was sky high and I can honestly say this was the highlight of the event for me! That and the awesome ” small event” vibe that it had – many of the participants are “serial stage racers” and only had praise for the vibe and organization of the race.
Will I be back next year? Not sure. Am I considering another Stage Race in the future. YESSSSSsssssss!
See you on the trails,