“I Flew To Joburg For A Cycle Race, And Here’s Why I’d Do It Again”
- World Bicycle Day
- Heading to Joburg for Joberg2c
- Day 1: Karan Beef to Frankfort
- Day 2: Frankfort to Reitz
It’s the 3rd of June and while I’m completely shooketh that it’s already June, it’s also an important day: World Bicycle Day. As a fan of two wheels, I had to take this opportunity to honour my sport and preferred mode of transport. What better way than by sharing the ultimate way to get from Joburg to Durban? Joberg2c: one of the best races I’ve had the privilege to ride.
When I heard that Amy Hoppy, our managing and food editor plus insane triathlete, was down with the flu, I was sad, buuuut a little bit excited. Why? Because it was the week before Joberg2c and Amy had been offered an opportunity to take part in two days of the race. Who would be filling those cycle shoes? That’s right, lil’ old me. Here’s what went down…
The thing is, when you find out you’re racing Joberg2c about two days before the event, it’s a bit of a rush. I was already heading up to Joburg for work, so that tied in nicely. Plus, I had help. The amazing guys at Pyga Mountain Bikes organised a bike for me! All I needed to bring were my pedals and saddle – for familiarity’s sake and so my bum wouldn’t die.
Packing is always a lengthy process for me and naturally, I’d left it to the last minute, having gone shopping for a Jozi-worthy outfit. I had been warned that it would be cold, so in went all the layers, all the gear, a sleeping bag for the race village… The only thing I forgot: a pillow. But more or less organised, I booked my sunrise Uber trip and headed to bed.
Meeting the team
First stop, work obligations. Then I headed in the direction of a Fitch & Leedes G&T mix, and equally importantly: the race briefing. I arrived just in time to meet the team behind the event. Ten years ago, three friends who shared the common passion for cycling started this incredible event. Affectionately know as Farmer Glen, Wappo and Gary, this trio (with their wives’ support) have created something special. I didn’t realise how much of a treat I was in for…
Next, I headed over to the Pyga stand, where I was introduced to the love of my life: The most beautiful bike I ever did see. This Pyga Stage would be mine for two whole days of riding, kindly lent to me by Hilton Frost. Hilton, you better know how much I love that bike (also I’d keep a close eye on it whenever I’m around #justsaying).
The race briefing covered all the details about where, when, who and how. But being the indecisive person I am, I was still debating transport options as I ventured out with my Joburg buds for a delish Mexican meal. I settled on catching the shuttle which would leave early from Kingsmead School where registration had taken place. Another 5am Uber later and I’d be on my way to the shuttle and then – the race of a lifetime.
Day 1 Joberg2c: Karan Beef to Frankfort
I was up at 4:30am. Into some warm layers, hot coffee into the bod and out into the cold to meet the Uber. We both agreed it was way too early to be up. Ntando dropped me off and helped me carry my gigantic bag of essentials to the Avis trucks that would transport all the bags to Frankfort. Once on the bus, I finally relaxed and got comfy. It was around an hour’s drive to Karan Beef – the start.
8am Day 1 is a warm-up day. It’s neutral so there’s no need to race. The time of the first rider to cross the line becomes everyone’s time. That way, we’re all winners. The air was buzzing with anticipation and pent-up energy, then 3,2,1 and… Go!
10am Also known as the Flat Spin day, Day 1 is as the name suggests: flat. My strength is more technical than flat, hard spinning, but I loved exploring the farmlands by bike. Around two hours in, I arrived at waterpoint 2 which is also where a water crossing of epic proportions takes place. The problem: how do you get 800 cyclists and their bikes across the Vaal Dam? Solution: boats (of a wide variety) plus school kids, who help load each bike onto ‘bike trailer’ boats. Cyclists then hitch a ride on a separate boat and make the crossing. Once safely on the other side, bikes and cyclists are reunited and the journey continues.
12:30pm Waterpoint 3 and the snackage was real. What a loaded waterpoint: everything from fruit skewers to boerewors and potatoes. I stocked up and began the home stretch to Frankfort.
One thing I could get used to is having my own back-up team ready to clean and service my bike. The Pyga guys wouldn’t even let me take my bike to the cleaning station – and it needed a hectic scrub down, I’m tellin’ ya. They promised to have it in perfect working order for Day 2 (also my last day).
I was shown to my tent by the lovely Lara who had the insane job of making sure the event ran smoothly. After a shower and good nosh, a nap was in order. I have to talk about the food tent: it literally blew me away. I’m talking a snack zone, a food zone, a hydration zone, even (get this) a windpompie that pomps sherry. We were treated to the best steaks braaiied by the Frankfort farmers themselves and, yes, my food baby had a food baby. Fed and watered, I headed to my tent.
Day 2 Joberg2c: Frankfort to Reitz (my last day)
7am This is where the racing begins. What’s more, there are a few singletrack sections (yay) and climbs. The mist hadn’t yet burnt off and the morning sun never looked so good. It was a cold start, but we warmed up quickly.
10:30am From waterpoint 2 until the end, I adopted a partner. Brett, another solo rider, had a pace that matched mine. I told him I had a plane to catch, so there was zero time to chill. The kays flew past with some great company and banter. Before I knew it, we were done.
12:20pm From the moment I crossed the finish line, it was a race against time. I wasn’t lying when I told Brett I had a plane to catch – I really did. Wash the bike, wash the bod, food in the bod, find the bag, give back the bike (a tear may have been shed). Joberg2c had organised my lift to the airport so once I’d completed my to-do list it was into the shuttle and back on the road. I made my flight with time to spare and spent it updating my Insta with the memories of a lifetime. What a race, what incredible people. Needlessly to say, I’ll be back for the rest of the race next year (and my Pyga bike).
Joberg2c 2020 entries open on 11 June 2019 so get ready to sign up for the adventure of a lifetime.