We did this ride 6 May 2017. We left at 6h30 am and arrived back at 18h00. My ride time 7h30.
Anyone who knows me knows I am not a morning person. There has to be a very special occasion for me to get up early. . Getting to do my first 100km was an occasion that I felt getting up at 4h30 am was worthwhile. I’ve been through a lot lately and nothing is a better distraction or therapy than a long physically hard ride.
Michael and I believe in proper preparation for any ride. We had all our snacks and hydration drinks prepared the previous evening. We went to bed early but unfortunately things did not go as planned and we had drama in the night and both ended up with very little sleep. Myself about 2 hours and Michael 30 min.
We did not get up bright eyed and bushy tailed but when I set myself a goal I don’t back down. We got up had coffee and breakfast. Yip breakfast at 4h30 is hard to digest but when you are doing a full days riding you have to.
Andre Venter of the PEMBIs, is the amazing man who arranges so many rides for the love of mountain biking and wanting to encourage people arranged this event. Newbies Gran Fondo. He first gave a pre-ride briefing and asked me if I remembered to apply my “holroom” because I had laughed about his post advising us to apply plenty. Then we were on our way.
The first 25kms were familiar territory the beginning route is the route that the PEMBIS ride for 50km rides.
A lot of the ride is along the railway tracks.
We rode through lovers lane, but romance was far from our minds. I reckon most of us were thinking, “How the hell am I going to do this?”
Andre had the ride well organised and thanks to our very kind back up driver Conrad, who met us at different stops with refreshments.
Our first stop was at road crossing. We gave our order for slap chips and then continued with our ride. At 25km we stopped at the cafe and had the lovely slap chips and a chat with the new owner who said he was going to give us a lot of support.
25km to 50km
Then we entered the great unknown, to Michael and I at least it was a route we had never ridden before.
We saw this beautiful railway bridge from the distance.
Little did we know that later we would be standing on top of it.
50km to 75 km
This is the stage where the ride starts getting really tough and we all start thinking “why the hell are we doing this?”. I stupidly broke one of the ride rules that any experienced rider knows I put on new cycle shorts. I did not need them till this ride because its been warm but it was a very chilly day and I decided to wear my new winter shorts forgetting that new shorts take a while to be worn in. Sitting was starting to be anything but fun. Etienne’s knee injury became a real problem for him. While waiting for some riders we were discussing how he would get his bike back because Conrad didn’t seem to have a rack. Michael then said, “Vivian has a rack”. When the other cyclists arrived the discussion went onto “pomping”. Cyclists are really a disgusting bunch but when the going is tough filthy humour really helps.
I may have cried a little at this point. Not sleeping the night before caught up with me. I was seriously worried that I would fall asleep on my bike.
At our one garage stop we saw a couple riding on a tractor to the shop. At another point we met a very drunken man cycling with his multi coloured dog called Snowflake for no apparent reason.
75km to 100km
I am not sure if it is only me but at this point of a ride I know I can make it. 25km to go does not seem that bad and the pain cannot get any worse.
The ride took a lot longer than anticipated it was a first timer 100km so we were not fast. There were a lot of stops as well. Towards the end we were worried about getting back before dark without bike lights. So we split up and tried to get back as fast as possible (in other words the others were going fast and I was huffing and panting behind them). We took a bit of a longer way back because the guys were using their gps for directions and Andre who knows the directions stayed with the last guy with a few other guys. Michael had lost his humour and kept reminding me that splitting up was a bad idea between telling me to pedal faster
Fortunately we made it before dark.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. We bonded, we hated each other. We had fun, we were miserable. We saw beautiful scenes we saw ugly scenes. We laughed, we cried. We joked, we swore. It was tum tum tum AN EPIC RIDE.