Karkloof Classic 2013

So, I owe you all some race reports. First up is the Karkloof Classic. Which was half rained out. And the half that was not was as muddy as a muddy thing.

The idea was that this was a whole festival, with numerous races, including a night ride on the Friday, an enduro on the Saturday and the feature event, your choice of 60km, 40km, 20km or 10km on the Sunday. I entered for the enduro and the 20km event.

Arriving at the site, I immediately wished for the gumboots I had left at work. It was muddy and wet, and the rain was still coming down. I would have been even more worried if it was coming up or sideways, because then there would have been some truly horrible winds. I squelched over to the registration table and did all the required stuff.

The enduro was to start a short distance away. Except, being non-local and with the direction sense of a… Well, actually my sense of direction is pretty decent, but there were no signs and no indication of where to go. After wandering around the back roads near Howick I decided to pack it in and laugh off the enduro. I went and sat in a pub with a glass of hot chocolate and a book for the rest of the day. There was also a trip down to a club in Pietermaritzburg, so all was not lost.

Sunday looked much more promising, with the sun actually shining. The start area was still wet and muddy, but was firming up some. I arrived just as my batch were setting off, so slotted into the first I could get. The announcer seemed surprised that this loon only had one wheel, but got the crowd to cheer, which I milked a bit (because I can, more than anything else).

The riding was nice and easy for the first bit, along a grassy bit, then crossing the district road and heading into the Sappi plantations. Shortly after getting into the trees, I realised I had a puncture. Again. So, I headed back to the start, which was luckily not too far away. I felt like I was passing hundreds of people, all of whom commiserated with me. The guys at Jowett’s Cycles quickly fixed it (it was the same thorn as at Maweni) and I set off. By now the 10km race had started and I was totally dead last in the 20km. Some hard pushing got me caught up with the 10km riders. A number of parents used me as an excuse to make their flagging offspring push harder.

On reaching the split, I veered off onto the 20km route. This was largely jeep track, with some rather muddy patches. Luckily it was not too up and down, so I was able to make good time. The water table was placed stunningly, with an excellent view across the Karkloof valley.

A view of the valley below the water table. A lovely photo actually.
The Karkloof valley from the water table.

I had managed to catch up to a few riders by now, and the rest of the ride was fairly non-eventful. Most of it was along jeep track, but there were some stunning sections of single-track interspersed. I was able to finish ahead of a few people, keeping my record of not finishing last intact.

Arriving at the finish line on my 29
At the finish. Photo by Kyle Gilham of Gameplan Media

Shortly after I finished the rain started coming down hard again, so I headed off home again. I did try and do my usual evangelising about how much fun it all is, and some people seemed intrigued, so maybe there will be one or two more unicycles next year?

Thanks to the organisers for a great day out, even if the previous day was a bust.