Mountain biking nut Alistair Schorn is having some serious déjà vu as he counts down the sleeps before his third Old Mutual joBerg2c. Read all about it in this year’s first instalment of Confessions of a Weekend Warrior.
Only one sleep until we start the great adventure known as the Old Mutual joBerg2c.
For first-timers the past week or so has probably been when it starts to get real, while those of us fortunate to come back for more have probably spent some time thinking back on the good (and sometimes not so good) memories of previous events.
Either way, the excitement has definitely started to build.
Until a few months ago, I wasn’t expecting to be back at the joBerg2c in 2016. I was chasing an entry for that other stage race that happens in the Cape in March.
But, then, as a result of being in the right place at the right time, and courtesy of a few well-timed phone calls, I found myself on the receiving end of a mixed team entry courtesy of Avis Van Rental, who are of course one of the loyal long-term sponsors of the event.
I also had the good fortune of finding a great partner in Michelle, who I’m sure is going to make me chase her up most of the climbs on the 900km course.
Overall, preparation for this year’s joBerg2c has been pretty different from the previous times that I’ve done it.
This year there are probably about 10 to 15 people from my local training groups that are doing the event, meaning that there is plenty of motivation to get out and do the necessary miles, both on the weekends and in the early hours of weekday mornings.
I haven’t had the same time flexibility as in the past, so I’ve been compelled to drag myself out of bed at just after 4am, as the mornings have steadily been getting darker and colder, to get a couple of hours in.
Michelle and I have also spent a lot of time chasing a few big diesel engines around the mielie fields to Heidelberg and the east of Pretoria, and up the hills on the eastern side of Johannesburg.
As I’m sure is the case for most of the riders, my house right now is something of a whirlwind of spares, cycling kit, casual clothes, bedding, bike and so on – all in various stages of readiness and awaiting the arrival of the (hopefully) giant joBerg2c kitbags.
On that note, a quick word of advice for first-timers. Pack enough warm stuff, even though from what the last newsletter said, it looks like the weather might well be pretty kind to us.
Also, make sure you have enough of two absolute essentials: ziploc bags and stomach bug medication.
As always, one of the most appealing elements of the joBerg2c is the community engagement aspect, as well as the fundraising activities that riders undertake for causes that are close to their hearts.
This year, for example, I believe that one of our regular foreign riders, Danny Vogel from Germany, is sending a complete container library – which was partly prepared by the kids from the primary school where he lives – to South Africa to be installed on the route.
Danny is also riding his singlespeed, but that’s another story.
Two of my training partners are riding for the CHOC Cows, raising funds for the care and treatment of kids who have cancer, and are auctioning off space on their arms and legs for (non-permanent) henna tattoos, so riders and spectators might well be treated to the sight of two walking billboards in cow kit along the route.
In a similar vein, the race is as always also actively supporting the communities along the route.
This year, in addition to the regular causes, they have asked each rider to bring along a five-litre bottle of water to registration.
These will be distributed by Operation Hydrate to drought stricken areas along the route.
To my mind, this type of initiative is part of what makes the Old Mutual joBerg2c unique, and what brings people back to the event year after year.
Now, back to the packing.
Alistair Schorn has been racing bikes since the mid-80s – before most of today’s mountain bike pros were born. He bought his first mountain bike in 1992, but only took up stage racing after coming back from overseas in 2004. In early 2014, he was bitten by the singlespeed bug, which is still firmly entrenched in his system. His favourite places to ride include Mpumalanga and the Berg (definitely not on a singlespeed though!). As an escape from his day job as an economist, Alistair moonlights as a writer for publications such as In the Bunch.