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26 Apr, 2017

Old Mutual joberg2c Day 5 Report

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Our camp for the evening in Notties!
Beautiful landscapes make the hard riding so worth it!
Stopping to take in the view
Hlubi gives us a Dance
What's a ride without a selfie!
The best Water Point of the Day!
The start brought cooler weather, but not too cold
Letshego paying homage to the Zulu name :)
Day five of the Old Mutual joberg2c was a day not to be under-estimated, the 120km journey from Em’seni in Winterton to Clifton Preparatory School in Nottingham Road would be a hard day for many in the field as they encountered a lot of climbing, but to make up for it would be magical single track that only the KZN Province can offer.

The day started with really moderate weather it had rained around 2 am so luckily for us dust would not an issue. I decided to jump another batch and finally make it to last place. This saw me start slow with my mates I had met on day two, team Hopalong. The first 20 km was relatively uneventful, it saw us riding a long uphill from the start.

We settled into a rhythm making up some time on the racing snakes of batch F and G. The first water point was on point! They had bacon syrup flapjacks, great music and great cheer, it was a welcome stop and took some effort to leave.

I managed to catch up with the #RideForGugu girls, Letshego and Hlubi and rode some of the day with them, which was an absolute blast. We encountered more uphill flat farm roads but with such amazing scenery, you didn't mind the climbing. What an absolute privilege to be alive and on a bike in this spectacular land.

We stopped frequently for stretches and to look at wildlife, I saw my first pair of Grey Crowned Cranes, such an incredible bird - it looks like a Blue Crane, just with a yellow Afro. We made it to water point two, which was halfway, in good spirits having paced ourselves knowing most of the climbing of the day still lay ahead. After fueling up the three stooges set off - ready to tackle the hills that lay ahead.

The pace uphill stayed slow on most of the day with the odd downhill to break things up and speed us along. I sang many songs with the Letshego and our new troupe of entertainers. We stopped for pics to distract ourselves from the hardest climbs of the day, which is a great way to ride as you end up doing it fill of humor and glee. Just before water point three we hit the steepest hill of the race thus far, 1 km of brutal rocky jeep track. Slowly we climbed with the promise of nirvana ahead.

I didn't think water points could get better than the first one, but on this race I'm constantly surprised. First thing you saw was a person dressed in a full size stork costume, this set the tone. What you found next was amazing, free beer, ribs, cheese grilled, bacon and every other water point staple made everything right with the world. Good cheer and great food helped to restore the energy levels for the final push.

The final part of the day was an exercise in survival, hard long and dusty. The last 5 km were hard on the legs and back. But this also brought my highlight of the day a bagpipe player hidden in the forest. Some more free beer and some Highlander flair was unexpected but incredibly welcome. The last 500m was downhill through trees, I loved it great way to finish a hard day. The day ended up taking me 9h15 but ended in good spirits. Bring on day six!

Riders will need to save energy for day 6, a 98km stage from Nottingham Road to Glencairn Farm in Underberg. It’s a day that includes lots of climbing once again, including a particularly nasty bump named Gumtree Climb, because halfway up you’ll want to sell your bike on the classifieds website!

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