Durban Dash Up 2016 Race Report
After last years record temperatures we were worried about what the weather would throw at the riders this year. So instead of 45C we had 2c with mist and rain!
The riders set of at 05h00 from the Station Masters and just after they left the drizzle and mist came into the Valley of 1000 Hills all the way up to Currys Post making the ridding conditions less than ideal. But the riders used their lights and reflective vests and could be seen.
Paul Erasmus suffered a bad cut to a tire at Camperdown which slowed him down a bit and despite plugging and tubing the tire it was to continue to plague him until he was forced to retire just before the Border Post checkpoint.
1st into Old Halliwell was Mike Woolnough followed by Ted Fountain, John Loos and Heather Watson, Kenneth Wilson, Kevin Meier, Dave Bell and Paul. Riders dried off their gloves and wet gear as best they could. Mike meanwhile had his tea and was off, showing his clear intent to better his UP winning time from last year.
All of the riders enjoyed the hospitality provided by Mike and Jane Uys of Old Halliwell. Dave Bell had been nursing a cold and decided that he would withdraw at this point in the race. Making the smart move. Kenneth who was worried about the dirt road on his skinny tires headed back to Howick to go around to Nottingham Road. This would prove to be a mistake on Kenneth’s part, costing him a 60 km detour and 1000 meters of ascent. Worse was he rode in the rain all the way back to Mooiriver and received no respite from the rain and mist. Kenneth eventually missed the cutoff time at the Border post but continued on to Petrus Steyn where he decided to stop. Great effort but the detour mistake, broken dynamo hub and having to sit on the side of the road and wait for daylight all hindered his progress.
Meanwhile Ted had overtaken Mike on the road and was first into CP2 followed an hour later by Mike. Ted however was opting for the sleep strategy whilst the endurance expert Mike smiled, told me “ I have work to do “ and rode off into the night. John and Heather arrived just after 23h00 and left just before midnight to cycle through the night. Kevin had played smart and had stopped at Bingelala for the night and would arrive after a good sleep at 05h00 the next morning. Ted after only around 1 hour sleep left at 00H50 to chase Mike.
The next morning the riders were hit with the mist and cold through the Free State, Mike had 2c ridding into Reitz. We caught up with John and Heather at Kestell and they were all smiles but had spent a horrible night cycling and trying to sleep in the bush. While the strategy was sound it would bite John at Petrus Steyn later in the race.
Ted was seen with 20 Kms to go to Reitz and he was freezing, the mist was not to bad but riding through from the Border Post had seen him in mist all the way and it was cold !
Mike stopped at the KFC and had a breakie ahead of last year’s time by at least 2 hours. The wind at his back mike was determined to break 36 Hours for the UP. This is no easy thing to do, its 7600 meters of ascent and 620 kms.
As a group of Mikes supporters waited at the finish it was with 2 minutes to spare that Mike crossed the finishing line in a time of 35 Hours 58 Minutes. Mike was defiantly in better condition than last year when he crossed the line with Paul after suffering in the heat. Mikes Blog is called Adventures of an ordinary cyclist. Well once again a really tough race was ridden with integrity and class and won by an ordinary cyclist doing extra ordinary things!
All of the riders left on the road were tiered and Ted, Heather, John and Kevin all booked into a B&B in Heilbron, ironically the same one. Kenneth stayed at the Border Post for the night and left early the next morning.
All of the riders left Heilbron early and were putting on a cracking pace trying to finish at Thaba Trails. Kevin backed off the pace with around 30 km to go. Fate is a fickle mistress though and Ted, Heather and John missed the turn up to the Rand Water Board and had to double back or they faced a long detour around the R82. Kevin nearly got back in front of them at this point but he made the same mistake just missing the turn and had to turn around.
Heather became the first lady to finish the Durban Dash UP and a worthy winner. Ted and John rode in with her and the supporters who had come down to the finish to meet them cheered them in.
Kevin rode in some 25 minutes later and it was bacon and egg roll time with some strange beer!
The Durban Dash UP and DOWN are intense races. The racing snakes have set records that will be hard to beat without some hard work and planning. The adventure cyclists have proven that the UP and Down can be ridden in the time allowed providing an adventure and a challenge.
Unsupported Adventure Cycle Races are growing worldwide. Trans Continental, Trans Am and the Trans Afrika set the standard for these types of races. The numbers in South Africa may not be large but the sport is growing and has become an economical alternative to expensive stage races.
We look forward to presenting the races next year and seeing ordinary people doing extra ordinary things on a bike !
From us here at Massive Adventures, happy cycling!