29 Apr, 2017

Old Mutual joberg2c Day 8 Report

Beautiful start to a beautiful day!
Race Mechanics still hard at work!
The strapping that saved me!
The long line of tents at the MacKenzie Club
Riding shadows
Views out onto the water
Riders getting ready for the day!
South African MTB stars Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes sailed over the line to win day 8 of the Old Mutual joBerg2c, and claimed the event outright for the recently formed PYGA Euro Steel team.
The best water point of the day!
Stage eight of the Old Mutual joberg2c, the 96km journey from the MacKenzie Club to Joliviet Farm, was a day many had been waiting for, it was the day riders finally got to do the hallowed Umkomaas Valley drop! For the race snakes it was also the last day of racing as Stage nine is a neutral stage.

The day started warm and bright, I was feeling strong with no worries, a good thing considering what was waiting for me. I jumped a batch to ride with friends, a good plan to get into a good group for the Umko drop.

We had long and open roads before we finally hit the start of the drop into the valley. My strategy paid off, I got an unbelievable run, with no traffic going into the single track - it was like a dream, rolling down on some of the best single track there is to ride!

The Umko Valley is truly special, track that just rolls and rolls, giving you the perfect opportunity to experience the gift that is mountain biking. And just when you think it can't get any better you just look to your side and you have your breath taken away with the beautiful views that accompany this special place. It's a true highlight of this race, and a gift for all the hard slog that came before, over 18km of pure joy!

We arrived to the water point in cool conditions as the morning mist hadn't quite lifted yet. This was my favourite water point of the day, the food was amazing and the vibe incredible, maybe it was me coming off the high of the descent down the valley, but it was just incredible.

It was good that I had these happy feelings because what was coming would strip them all away very quickly! The start of the new route out of the Umko Valley told me that I was in for a rough ride, the new 'Iconic' climb had me ready to cry, as it just went on and on. Every time you got to what you thought was the top, you realised that it wasn't over and there was more brutal climbing ahead. It was tough, I walked a lot!

I was incredibly thankful that I had gotten both my Achilles tendons strapped before starting this climb, the pain was extreme, but would have been a lot worse without the taping! When I finally reached the top, it was with a big sigh of relief. The boerie rolls that they had waiting were incredibly welcome and just what I needed to keep going!

The rest of the stage was spent focusing on one thing and one thing only - getting to the finish! I was granted that welcome sight as the finish finally showed itself before me! The day had taken 6h35, but I finished and that's all that matters. One more day to get to the sea!

The last day, a 89km journey from Jolivet Farm to Scottburgh main beach, is a day for celebration, as riders take on the 'Champagne Stage.' It's a day for riders to celebrate their achievement of finishing while still enjoying the incredible route that the race has to offer!


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