June 3, 2017

The Great Zuurberg Trek!

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…

Zuurberg Pass. Road tripping.

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 …

My trusty steed – a prototype VIPA Trail 29er with some personal touches …

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 1 Waterpoint 1. Mother of a climb to the top!

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 #playday. 50km of PROPER TECH RIDING!

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.

Compulsory game drive on the way back to PE via Addo National Elephant Park – worth the trip!!

Will I be back next year? Not sure. Am I considering another Stage Race in the future. YESSSSSsssssss!

See you on the trails,