Sunday, 5 January 2020

Munga 2019 - Part 17 - Ceres to Doolhof

I arrive at the Ceres Race Village to a cheery welcome. While I'm filling in the register I'm asked what I would like to eat. I ask what's available. A list of options is run off.
"That sounds perfect," I reply.
"All of it?"
"If that's okay?"
"Sure thing."
He hurries off to whip up an express custom breakfast. I think I just made his day.

The next inquiry is about what I'd like to drink.
"Tea, coffee and Coke will be perfect, thanks." This time there's no query about my broad selection.

By the time I've filled my bottles coffee and Coke are waiting for me.
"Sorry, we don't have tea."
They look genuinely disappointed.

I ask where Sithembiso is and they tell me he's at least an hour behind. Chat turns to the winners. It seems Benky and Thinus settled for a joint win. That's a pity because I'm trying to imagine what a sprint finish would have been like down the precipitous jeep track to the finish. Especially since there's only space for a single bike down the drop off just before the finish.

A plateful of breakfast yumminess is presented. I wolf it down. I've only got 45km to get to the finish at Doolhof. There's sufficient sustenance to fuel my legs and keep a smile on my face.

I sign out and grab my bike. It's a beautiful morning. It's cool with a gentle breeze and apart from the last 2 km drop into Doolhof it's on tar.
A glance at my watch tells me it's 09:20. I wonder if I can get to the finish in under 2 hours. Apart from Sithembiso creeping up behind me there's no particular hurry. It just seems a fun challenge. There is the small matter of getting up the 8km climb of Bainskloof Pass but the road to the start of the pass is mostly flat and fast.

The breakfast has revived me and I'm up and over Mitchell's Pass in no time at all. I'm on the aero bars and moving well. As I get to the approaches of Bainskloof Pass I'm caught by some Wellington based riders who are heading back over the pass. They are following the race and greet me by name. They offer to let me draft behind them but I explain that I'm not allowed to draft and they slip in behind me. As traffic allows one of them rides beside me and we chat. Some of them have done Race To Rhodes and they are familiar with my Blog.

They are strong riders and I'm riding hard so that I don't hold them up. My legs are burning but it feels great to be riding at something akin to race pace. Approaching the top of the climb I see that a sub-2 hour Ceres to Doolhof ride is on the cards. The weariness of the last 3 days has sloughed off. I bid the others adieu and use my aero bars to full effect. The banners indicating the final drop to the finish comes up quickly and I brake hard and head over the lip. I pick my lines carefully as I don't want to crash this close to the end. The final snake like turns make the Garmin ineffective and besides the arrows indicating the route make it superfluous. I'm glad I don't have to keep looking down.

One final drop-off and the Munga Gantry looms. I roll over the finish line and squeeze the brakes. It's 11:18 on Saturday 30th December and one more adventure has come to a close

3 comments:

CharlvdSpuy said...

I really enjoyed this series of posts Mike, well done on a fantastic effort.

A nice combination of meticulous planning, diligent execution, but all the while not losing sight of the essence of endurance riding.

You writing and sharing of your experience is both inspirational and a joy just to sit back and read.

Keep up the very good work.

Cheers

Charl

Unknown said...

Excellent read. Wish I knew all the details but I learnt my own lessons in the 2019 munga. Firoz. 34th finisher

Unknown said...

Mike what a pleasure going through your blog.... Having played a stunning game of golf with you, chatting to you and be able to read your experiences is humbling.

Looking forward to reading future blogs especially your new adventures overseas in the short term (Belgium??)

Andrew Dutton... Golf partner!