Crater Cruise... the National Series end of year party..
So, my first Advendurance MTN National Series - Ultra Marathon, I was scared and all sorts considering all the scary stories I'd heard, mostly about how corrugated the route is and how tough it is.. and that it was a roadie race.. hmm.. this makes me think, a lot of the boys are youngly girls.. led me to thinking how people limit you with their fears and stuff.. nervous as hell I still went.. I even considered wearing 2 cycling pants but luckily that crazy thought was reassured by my trusted Asg F-Tech kit!
What happened out there.. well I’d never been happier to see the finish line that’s what..
Firstly I was batched in A, I don’t know how that happened, 2ndly it wasn’t just A, we were taking off with the Elite racing ladies- let me break it down- Ariane, Robyn, Amy.. should I carry on? Freaking out, heart rate at 140 before we even took off, no prizes for guessing what happened from there.
Started out onto road in a cute single file happening being paced by a car, otherwise, I’m certain, Robyn would have owned the day as we were on tar for quite a bit.. quuuuuite a bit.. eventually falling off this train, and the A batched men came past, bit of wind, I was irritated.
We went on to our first bit of gravel.. and corrugation.. for a bit, little long climbs.. this was the order of the day, stopping at every 2nd WP about, it was a hell of a hot day, thank heaven for those Ice cold USN drinks at each water point.. I’ve never been more grateful! Temperatures touching on 46 degrees.. Crater was tough.
We went through a little bit of single track, with a fun bit that had that loose sand, and steep little climbs.. I love single track!.. then we back out again baking in the sun..
they had set cut off times at the different WP’s, probably cause someone could die from that heat but the overall cut off time was around 3pm I think, this would give you about 8hours to finish 103Km’s of heat and climbs and corrugation and find happiness in that little bit of single track if that’s your kind of thing, I was certain the cut off was put in place to ensure I had adequate time to get to the finish but turns out I managed a decent attempt.
The end was the most interesting, going through a grass burnt patch in head wind, while seeing other riders going up on the other side.. WP stop, it was so hot, the biggest factor was keeping well hydrated, and luckily I did, heading towards the clear finish, spot the finish line banner ahead while Suunto reads 97 odd Km could get frustrating as you get taken back into track.. that type o stuff can give you extra legs or make you throw your bike over the fence and walk to the finish but luckily it gave legs J lots of them too J and sense of humour J and a thrilling steep metal ramp finish, just when you were unsure if you had legs too.. I enjoyed the last 60Km.. legs only arrived then, not complaining though, hella happy to have finished.
The recovery USN protein drinks & water at the finish were boss! I treasure my medal for many reasons and so proud to have been part of this event. I always say the National Series, more than the fact that they deal pain on every climb and awkward bit, we get to see our beautiful country.. places we can bike outside of JHB, in the greater scheme of things, uplifting communities.. warms my heart proper!
A note : because we all on the trails for different reason- be it in-front, the middle or the back, some for fun, some a good training session, some looking to better their times, others racing and whatever else blows your hair back.. when another rider asks for track.. it’s only polite to give way.. chirping ‘who you racing’ or ‘you’re not gonna get podium’ is not polite.. figure where you fit in the greater scheme of things and let others be.. hell give support!! J
… don’t let other peoples fears become your own.. I was so scared for Crater but wanted to see for myself how bad it could be and looking back past the heat and corrugation and wind and thirst.. I enjoyed it.. a different challenge, a mental challenge.. were you gonna let the heat get to you? The corrugation? The hard grass? The wind.. no.. instead you rise above the physical, time and time again.