The 12th of May, mothers’ day. Fittingly, my mum decided that she had nothing better to do, and came along. Also the Greytown MTB Festival’s main race. I had signed up for the 20km race.
Leaving Eshowe early we went the back way, via Middledrift and Kranskop. Our reward was watching the sun rise over the Tugela Valley.
Arriving at the venue, it was cold. Like frost and blizzard cold. Well, not quite, but certainly much colder than a Zululand boy likes. The turn out was pretty good, with a number of people milling around. The coffee stand was doing a roaring trade. The profile showed a relatively non-scary race ahead, with no huge climbs or descents.
The announcer pointed out that I was in flagrant violation of the CSA rules about “both wheels needing to be the same size” or similar malarkey, which I think amused him as much as it did me.
The start was fairly flat and uneventful, going along some good farm roads. The marshalls were generally flabbergasted at my coming through. I managed to stay in touch with the field here, but got left behind on a long, sweeping downhill, so I was soon in my customary early-race back of the pack position.
This bit me badly when I took a wrong turn, onto the return route. Luckily I came across a marshalling team who called someone to set me right. They even gave me a lift back to where I had gotten lost. The marshalls were quite taken by the uni, and gave it a try.
Now came the long catch-up slog. The terrain was easy, and I caught a lady who was really struggling on a long uphill. This dropped down entertainingly steeply to another district road. I took a bail at the bottom of this hill when I stopped pedalling and the wheel carried on in the mud. Nothing serious though, but I was glad for the brake on the downhill.
This led up to the water table, where I saw my next targets disappearing. After a bit of a break, I set off in pursuit. The canefields to the north had given way to timber plantations which meant: singletrack.
This section of the course was dominated by delightful singletrack through the timber, with short sections of access road between them. Here I finally caught up to the backmarkers, and started passing some.
Once through this, the course began to head northwards again. The route was now largely on farm roads, and I soon passed the marshalls from when I had gotten lost. They gave a nice cheer as I came past.
The route home went over some ratger damp ground, but most of it was rideable, depite the complaints from the old guys I was riding with. As I crossed the last bridge and turned the final corner I got a fairly rousing cheer.
To my total surprise, on crossing the line I was given a nice Stihl high pressure cleaner. This is the first time I have been given anything just for riding a unicycle. Maybe they reallocated a spot prize or something, I do not know. Pretty cool though, I thought. I decided to stick to telling people that I had lost two wheels, and it used to be a tricycle, since I got a lot more “you have lost a wheel” comments than usual for some reason.
After hanging around a bit, we headed home again. This was definitely some nice riding, and I look forward to doung it again. I stopped to take a bunch of photos of rocks on the way down to the Tugela, which I think I will put up next.