Ride the Rock 07/02-10/02

Trip Start Dec 26, 2012
Trip End Feb 16, 2013

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Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Thursday, February 7, 2013

After the haircut and a deluxe breakfast it was about time to hit the road! Stopping at Pick n Pay to buy enough water and bananas and at 13.00 I was on my way to Cederberg. The last 50 km are on dirt road which slows you down a lot. Around 16.15 I arrived at Sanddrif!
First thing to do...register at the RtR-office and getting the race pack which includes a nice backpack! When I mentioned my surname Frederickx the staff replied immediately with the words "oh welcome Tom". Without looking at their papers they knew in which cottage I was gonna stay the next 3 nights! A very warm welcome I have to say.
After installing in the cottage I went to check out the main area (start-finish-bar-restaurant-...). I ran into Nicolina, the rider manager, and had a chat with her...now I realise why they got my name, there are only a few Europeans: 2 Suisse, 1 Belgian and a couple of Germans but these last ones are living in South-Africa. So only 3 Europeans made the long trip to here. In total 130 participants! During this chat I met also 2 men (Brian and Rob), which I had met 4 days ago after my last training at Jonkershoek. Once again: it's a small world!
The bike is ready, everything is prepared, now it's just having dinner and briefing. Tomorrow it starts for real!!!

Day 1: 83 km, 1550 climbing, 5.54.29!
Waking up at 5.00 in the morning to get breakfast @ the race village. Preparing myself for this endurostage...it's gonna be a hot long day!
6.30h, and of we go. I decided to start with Brian and Rob completely in the back. I found out pretty fast that these men have more or less the same riding level. So we were more or less together for 50 km, but then I got some cramps and off they were. I was drinking a lot, but not enough unfortunately in this heat! Temperatures went easy up to 32-35 (that's what I thought, but saturday they told us temperatures went up to 43 degrees) in the shade and while this race takes place in a rocky area, there was almost no shade. The roads were very bumpy, even organisers told the evening before that the men on a hardtail had better been productive to make children, while after this day it will be over :-).
I recovered from the cramps and could continue my way. From that moment on every waterpoint I drunk 4 cups of water and 2 cups coke. But the last climb cramps came back and made it a tough climb. But I made it after 5.54.29 to the finish. The longest time was 7.45h. Rob and Brian did 5.45h.
First thing to do, was to book a massage, while my legs felt really bad...first thought was: how can I start tomorrow like this?! Done deal, massage at 18.00h. So I had time to shower, to have lunch with a well deserved and a 3h nap.
So I went to the race park around 17.30h and had a laugh about the massage I was gonna get with Rob and Brian during drinking a Gin Tonic. The joke about the massage I'll tell in Belgium when we have a drink @ the bar. The massage was great and Belinda and her team are very nice people...we need to have a drink with them later on! And once again my t-shirt (F*** salad, ...) brought a smile on people their face :-), so I promised the massage team I would change at least every day!
Time for dinner and the great Cederberg wine...around 22.30h only 5 riders were left over at the bar: my new mates Brian and Rob and my 2 roommates Keith and Graeme and myself! Time for bed around 23.00 while the next day start was gonna be at 7.00h.
At the daily price giving, an ion camera was given away randomly, Rob won it and his mate Brian told me he wins everything...
Average temperature: 43 degrees!

Day 2: 62 km, 960 climbing, 4.26.39
Waking up at 5.30 to prepare myself for another heavy day! Today there were gonna be lots of technical singletracks (Organisation told not to be embarrassed when you had to carry the bike) and the weatherforecast gave possibilities for thunderstorms :-(.
Right after the start we had to climb 5 km (230m up) before taking the first very technical rocky singletrack. On the singletrack I got support from the organisation shouting my name. ...After 15 km the first waterpoint and you could see it was gonna rain :-(. At that moment Rob and Brian were still with me. But now 'my part' was coming...15 km on dirt roads! It started to rain and when Brian and Rob decided to take their rainjackets out (i didn't have one), I thought by myself, this is your moment to make a gap...and of I went, 15 km against 25-30 km/h, taking over some other riders. After those 15 km we had to go on singletrack in the burned area (bushfires around christmas)...lots of sand and slippery rocks!!! At the last waterpoint again organisation was supporting the Belgian.
Finally I did arrive in 4.26.39 and beated Rob and Brian.
While not all people did start, I could change my massage from 18.30 to 13.00h...and as I said, it's a wonderful team. Carla-Rae decided not to have lunch and give me a massage...thx for that! Again we will need to have a drink in the evening :-). Life can be hard!
After the massage a nap of 3 hours, just to make sure I could have enough drinks in the evening.
During dinner there was the daily pricegiving again and yes I have to believe Brian...Rob did win a KTM mountainbike!!!
Time to celebrate that...more wine and when Rob and Brian decided to stop drinking I switched to Gin Tonic...at 1.00 it was bedtime, I was the only rider at the fire/bar together with some people of the organisation and part of the massage team. With Eduan and Carla-Rae I made an appointment...they will guide me next wednesday through the Stellenbosch student nightlife :-).
Today I also found out 2 other Belgians are taking part, but both of them live already for many years in SA.

Only 89 persons did start today!
Average temperature: 17 degrees!

Day 3: 52 km, 1080 m climbing, 3.36.04
After 4,5 hours of sleeping it was time to get up for the last stage...I was surprised I didn't have a headache and together with me some more people I guess ;-).
Breakfast, coffee and at 7.00h of we went! Oh my god, today all of them decided to take a fast start, wow! After 18 km the heavy climb (7km) started! Oh my god!!! All went well up to 35 km, that was the point I regretted that I had so much GT and didn't go to bed earlier. The next 10 km I was suffering, the dirt road was sandy, bumpy, slowly going up, ... Pfff, I thought I was never gonna make it. Then the last waterpoint, only 8-9 km left but 3-4 km more climbing. But the road became better and I took more speed again. So yes, after 3.36.04 I finished the last stage of Ride the Rock! Woohoo, I did it! I deserved a beer to celebrate :-).
The weather today was good, no rain and cool temperature!
Showering, cleaning up cottage and packing...before the price ceremony! At 12.30h I was ready to leave the wonderful Cederberg behind. I hope to come back here!!! I really enjoyed it.
Time to leave to Paternoster to B&B Farr Out where a hot tub is waiting for me to recover from these 3 hard days!
Arrived at Paternoster I relaxed a bit, went for an early dinner and by 19.00h my hot tub is ready!

Tomorrow back to CPT for the last 5 days of this great trip. Oh I love SA!!! I'll be back, that's for sure and I'll do another 'more days MTB race'.
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