Ever seen those old Cape Epic TV highlights packages of Roel Paulissen riding a rim to the line while in the yellow jersey? After today I can confirm that it is far from a pretty sight.
Stage two of the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek started off in earnest this morning as TIB-Contego were keen to make amends for yesterday.
They laid down the smack from the gun and soon the split was made for the day as we rode away from the field with them.
A brief mishap when Andrew’s wheel lost pressure and they had to stop to ‘bomb’ it gave us the lead and we set about a steady tempo with a tough day to still be negotiated.
Andrew and Adriaan caught us at the top of the first major climb and were going a gear too fast for us.
We set back into our own rhythm as we left the Addo bush descending into the arid Karoo. Dylan was the hammer today and I was the nail, for now at least.
We negotiated the rough terrain, ticking off the kilometres. The route profile had not suggested an easy stage at all, but the surface perhaps made it a bit tougher than what many may have expected.
After an exceptionally rough and technical descent, we had one more steep climb to negotiate and then 10 or so kilometres along mountain roads to the finish.
It was certainly no walk in the park, but the Zuurberg Inn was almost in sight and we were looking at a solid second on the day and GC.
That was not to be.
I hit a rock on the technical descent and in the process cracked the rear rim. It lost some pressure, but was still rideable.
Our troubles started soon after when the tyre exploded off the rim. Two kilometres later, the repair job tube also blew off.
While the view was quite spectacular, it was not a spectacular situation when we started the 13km run/walk to the line. This was the only way home now.
As we approached the top of the climb, I suggested to Dylan that I try ride the rim home as we were now on the gravel road and the rim was in any case cracked.
The crunching sound of gravel and rock on carbon was not pretty, but it only lasted a kilometre before the wheel collapsed. I was now the hammer and the wheel the nail.
Run/walk it would be. We alternated between riding Dylan’s bike and the other carrying and running with mine and I think it is safe to say neither of us will be switching to Xterra any time soon.
With five kilometres to go, a saviour arrived on the horizon. Dylan’s Dad, Wayne, also our super mechanic, drove out to meet us with a spare wheel.
We could take the wheel in exchange for a time penalty but we were okay with that. The overall race was now well and truly out of our grasp and blisters were starting to form on our feet.
Carbon S-Works shoes are fantastic for power transfer and all but, running, not so much.
It was a character-building day of note. Perhaps one not to remember for the end result, but we finished safely and in good spirits.
Tomorrow is another day – let’s see what it brings.