Testing for symptoms of Stage Race at joberg2c

By David Moseley

Day seven of joberg2c was a blast from start to finish – just like it always is. Riders woke to frost-covered tents, clear skies, a still day, views of the Drakensberg, and the promise of some free-flowing single track.

With an 8am start, there was a festival air in the Glencairn camp with riders milling about the Seattle coffee truck and generally acting like the previous six days had been a doddle.

It helped too that the rising sun quickly raised the temperature from zero to something far more palatable by the time the A batch riders were zooming out of the start chute and on to the tar then district roads of the day six route.

The district roads soon became short, steep climbs into forest paths and then finally, what the 800+ riders had been waiting for all week, sweet, sexy single track. Glen Haw and his crew somehow worked a minor miracle in getting the trails into shape after months of seemingly non-stop rain along the route.

There were still patches of mud, but the 2022 joberg2c field is now expert in handling muddy conditions, with any one of the riders at the event probably able to arrive at the next World Cyclocross Champs in mid-winter Belgium and able to walk away with the crown such are their wet-weather handling skills. Apart from the unavoidable wet spots (that sounds dirtier than it needs to be), the stage was an absolute hoot.

That being said, it’s also day seven of a nine-day event, and at this stage of the race, to borrow from a practice that is still being used while covid lingers world-wide, riders are also “testing for symptoms of Stage Race”.

Stage Race – when you ride more than you need to and end up suffering just a little too much but carry on any way because your pride won’t let you quite but also because you actually like it – is a common ailment amongst mountain bikers.

Roadies never suffer from Stage Race because after a one-day event of going full gas on a 100km course with 800m of climbing, they need their mommies to hold them. Mountain bikers, on the other hand, suffer from frequent waves of Stage Race.

Symptoms of Stage Race include:

  • Wincing every time you sit down because your backside is raw from saddle wear and tear
  • Groaning every time you stand up because you backside is raw and your legs are heavier than the weight of telling your parents you’ve lost another school blazer
  • Forgetting what you’ve packed five minutes ago or wondering where you’ve left your toothbrush when it’s still in your hand (also separate ailment known as Stage Race Brain)
  • Watery eyes in the morning because as you wake you realise you have another 127km to ride
  • Waking at 4am in the race village and opening and closing your tent zip 17 times because it’s 4am in the morning and you have nothing else to do but wake up the people who don’t want to wake up at 4am
  • Getting fully dressed in cycling gear at 5am even though you’re start time is 8:30 and having breakfast wearing your helmet. This is the most serious symptom of Stage Race, and anyone displaying these symptoms should have their mountain bike taken away by a responsible adult and encouraged to take up road cycling
  • Finishing a stage race in an absolute state of disrepair and promising never to ride another stage race again, immediately suffering from Stage Race Depression and checking the race calendar for the next stage race to enter.

Anyone displaying any of these symptoms should be locked away until common sense prevails. But that’s unlikely.