Finding balance at joberg2c

By David Moseley

On the nine-day, 900km joberg2c your greatest asset is not your fitness or your mountain bike handling skills or in fact your mountain bike. The most important thing is balance or finding the perfect balance during the nine days to enjoy the ride, conquer the ride, and enjoy the views while having fun along the way.

Go hard too early in the event, and you risk the chance of blowing up during the latter stages. Focus too much on the riding, and you miss the entire purpose of being here – to enjoy the hospitality of the communities along the way.

Enjoy the hospitality too much, and you run the risk of suffering on the ride. Balance your e-bike up against your tent, and you might be crushed while you sleep, which is probably preferable to trying to sleep next door to my lumberjack neighbour.

Day eight, the last day of racing, and the penultimate stage, is the perfect example of the balance required to maximise your fun at joberg2c.

The first half of the stage is the famous descent into the Umkomaas Valley. The second, less famous second half, is a climb out of the Valley. Obviously, the descent is the fun part – but if you attack it with too much relish, you’ll have nothing left in the legs for the climbing.

My new friend in mountain biking, Alberto, tells me he also overheard some e-bike riders last night in the tents discussing their strategy for the day – when to crank up the power and when to hold back. Balance!

Riding into the “Umko” is also so jaw-droppingly beautiful that you really should stop and take photos. But after you’ve worked so hard on the district roads to get ahead of the less than capable descenders, letting them back in front of you is not always desirable.

In my head, I knew I needed to take it easy on the descent so I would have some juice left for the climbing. Once in the valley, the route is a constant series of ups and downs over bridges and up steep trail sections before you reach the main climb, Iconic. Glen Haw named it that because it’s so tough he knew it would become an Iconic part of this event and Sani2c. A more fitting name would have been WTF. An even more fitting name would be Let’s Not Have This Climb.

I knew all this was coming. I knew I should just chill and enjoy the district road out of the Mackenzie Club start and float gracefully down the singletrack. But as most people know, once men start thinking with the thing between their legs, all common sense goes out the window. From the start, I was immediately alone at the head of my batch.

I was soon reeled in by a little group, where the jostling for position began. At the start of the Umko Drop a gap opened, and I was away. My legs pedalled harder and faster as my head said “take it easy. Slow down. Enjoy the view.” You only live once, they say, but on a nine-day mountain bike stage race you die many times. That was my fate.

I died first at the water point at the bottom of the valley – from gluttony of course. Did you know you can fit droewors, cheese and Marmite sandwiches, egg mayo sandwiches and a cup of Coke in your mouth all at once? Well, you do now!

Once resurrected, I died soon after on the first small trail climb because my stomach was churning like the Umko river rapids I was riding alongside.

My final resting place, of course, was halfway up Iconic, where my lack of day eight balance and lack of balance on my bicycle combined to produce an earth-shattering implosion. I’m still on the hill as you read this; my ghost just came back to finish the work because it’s part of the contract. Rest in peace, me. At least you had fun on the descent!