Starting at the beginning, I have to say how impressed I was with the super speedy registration process on Thursday at the Cyclelab in the North Gate Island centre near Milnerton. It took less than 3 minutes to pick up my number at one counter and then my T-shirt at another.
Due to the incredible heat in 2010 and the fact that the long ride was actually stopped last year, I decided to participate in the short, 32km race this year.
This took place yesterday, 6 March 2011. The weather was absolutely perfect for riding with no sun in sight as it was totally overcast when I arrived there and stayed that way until the end ( of my ride at least).
The parking at Boschendal was moved to a different area, making access to the start very easy. The start area itself was different from that of 2010 too. I guess the organizers regroup after every event in order to learn what worked well and what didn’t in order to make the event even better the following year.
Our start was delayed by 8 minutes due to slower riders at the end of the 55km route. I did not really have an issue with that.
A neutral zone was set-up until we crossed the tarred road onto the dirt. The dust was a very fine powder and this together with medium sized loose stones made the riding difficult in sections where the riders were grouped closely together. This happened on many flat areas and uphills as well. In general the course was very relaxed with no uphills to talk about, no serious down hills and no major obstacles of any kind.
My one major gripe: a bottleneck of note, about 10km into the ride. At the bottom of a downhill, coming down through the vineyards, we could see a whole bunch of riders all waiting….for something.
Once there, I realized everybody was waiting to get into a piece of forest to ride a section of single track. Let’s face it, there is very little terrain as exciting as single track for a mountain biker. Having to wait 15 minutes however to get into the forest and to then do a mere 200m or so, at the cost of 15 minutes is just not worth it.
The bunch became bigger and bigger and whether the guys behind me waited longer or eventually found another way around it, I dunno. Suffice to say I had a chat with Meurant Botha once I finished my ride in order to share my frustrations. This is not the type of thing you expect from an experienced course builder at a well known event that aint cheap to enter either. What’s worse was the the 54km riders as well as the Grape Escape riders had to go through the very same bottle neck.
The finish area was well set-up with bedouin tents, a picnic area, decent seating, food and drinks and portable showers.
All-in-all I had a good day out, though I know now that I should’ve done the long route. Oh well, there’s always 2012…
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