Squeaks, creaks and MTB geeks at joberg2c
It all starts with a gentle toot. Toot, toot. Like air gently escaping from an inflated balloon, so the balloon shaper can transform the pliable rubber into a bemused blue dachshund.
The man in the tent – though could be a woman – thinks he’s quietly and surreptitiously released a build-up of overnight intestinal gasses.
But in a tent, no secrets can be kept, and with 800 well-fed, nervous and excited mountain bikers at joberg2c, the morning symphony starts with this delicate flatulence.
Next comes the cellphone alarm, set with up to five snoozes to ensure rows 0-300 all know that Phillipe in tent 125 is ready for his morning calisthenics.
From there, the chorus of coughs, snorts, sighs and tent zippers racing up and down reaches a crescendo with Mikey calling out to Nige, 32 tents away.
“Bru, Nigey. Bru, you awake bru? Gonna grab chow nah bru, then fetch the baik. I’m dressed hey. You got the bum cream hey?”
And so starts your day at the world’s longest mountain bike stage race, the 900km, nine-day joberg2c, an eventful, energising, life-affirming ride that comes complete with it’s own soundtrack.
Standing in the starting pen, the joberg2c MC calls out into the misty morning, holding his microphone to his cellphone, hopeful for revelations from the route.
It’s tradition, you see, for one of the organisers to always leave 10 minutes ahead of the riders to check the morning conditions of the course – a warm, hospitable touch that makes participants feel the event really cares. And it really does.
“Hello Farmer?” says the MC, questioning the cool air and the farmer down the crackling line; the expectant crowd is breathless with anticipation.
“Hello. Yes. Yes, I’m here,” answers back Farmer, like he’s just been discovered on the dark side of the moon by NASA class of ‘64.
With a raised eyebrow and a knowning glance at the riders, the MC responds, “Tell us about the trail, Farmer. How’s it looking out there.”
Crackle, buzz, buzz… silence and action! “Yes. I’m here. Yes. The trail is good. A bit wet, a bit muddy. Stay left, then go on the right, but stay left. But it’s just mud. So stay left. You might get wet, there’s mud. But the trail is good. A beautiful morning for riding.”
And then we’re off, a cacophony of clicks as cleats crack into place, a rising tide of groans as worn out bums touch saddle for the first time that morning, and 800 deep breaths as riders attune their minds on the 94km challenge to come.
The racing at joberg2c this year is all in the Amabokke-bokkie Global Mixed Category. The only sound from that part of the race is the woosh and swoosh of pro mountain bikers flying through water points and down the exceptional single track trails.
In the race for the R100 000, Amy McDougall and Mike Posthumus claimed first blood, winning the first racing stage in a time of 3:29:53. Second in the category was Yolandi du Toit and Ben Melt Swanepoel at 3:51:47, with the Swiss pair of Corinne Overney and Vincent Flueck finishing third in a time of 4:11:18. Whoops of delight no doubt accompanied their crossing of the finish line.
But for the rest, for the 700 riders or so who are at joberg2c to stop, look around, take photos and revel in the beauty of South Africa, day two’s soundtrack included the satisfied smack of lips being licked thanks to the boerewors rolls en route and the soft squelch of mud underwheel.
Squoosh. Squelch. Squash. Then the whirr of wheels on district road. Then the shrieks of delight on singletrack descending.Then the ahs of accomplishment as the finish line is rolled over.
Day three of joberg2c is the “big one”, 120km from Reitz to Sterkfontein Dam. The route will take riders along fast stretches of district road, through larger than life farms and up the momentous Mt Paul climb.
First though, joberg2c riders will be treated to a nighttime concert of draft taps gushing, tonic bottles cracking open, and the quaint morning toots turning into rumbling roars as the reality of the next seven days comes into focus.
Joberg2c results day 2
Amabokke-bokkie Global Mixed Category
1. Amy McDougall and Mike Posthumus (dormakaba) 3:29:53
2. Yolandi du Toit and Ben Melt Swanepoel (Garmin) 3:51:47
3. Corinne Overney and Vincent Flueck (Ekibike Dupasquier Sports) 4:11:18
1. Matthys Beukes 3:12:54
2. HB Kruger 3:12:55
3. Philip Buys 3:33:59
1. Andrew Hill and Shaun-nick Bester (Darkhorse wheels insured by TIB) 3:18:49
2. Gavillet Julien and Ecoffey Sylvain (Cycles Passion Bulle) 3:29:38
3. Luke Evans and Craig Uria (Sage Racing) 3:29:51
1. Sandra ‘t Hart 4:06:13
2. Monica Glover 4:20:12
3. Yvette Roberts 4:28:02
1. Sarah Hill and Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk Ladies) 3:40:36
2. Auralia Edwards and Gina Wills (Seattle Speed) 4:32:15
3. Marlene Andersen and Kirsten Engsig Jensen (Team Hakuna Matata) 4:32:29