After pretty much eight straight days of heat, the bad weather finally rolled into Jolivet Farm for the start of the ninth and final stage of the Old Mutual joBerg2c.
Cold, rain and gale-force winds greeted the riders on the start line, turning what is usually a pleasant final day cruise to Scottburgh into a fairly unpleasant slog.
Personally, I’ve never gone very well in cold and rainy conditions – something I’ve known since my days of competitive road cycling at school and university.
So I was expecting not to have a good day, but I wasn’t prepared for how badly it turned out. It was by far my worst day of the entire joBerg2c and, in fact, probably the worst day I’ve ever experienced on my bike.
If it had been a one-day race, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have finished. So I’m really grateful to my partner Michelle for helping me pull through to the end.
In the evening after the stage we heard that there was snow falling in Underberg, where the race village had been only a couple of days earlier. So it seems that despite the less than optimal conditions on the last day, we really did finish in the nick of time as far as the weather was concerned.
This was my third joBerg2c finish and, this time, riding over the floating bridge and across the finish line on Scottburgh beach the feeling was completely different – far more relief than elation.
It was also the first time that my wife and son were at the finish, so that was really awesome.
I must once again thank Avis Van Rental for the opportunity to take part in this year’s Old Mutual joBerg2c. And also Michelle for being a great partner throughout the journey, which included everything from crashes to mechanicals and bad days to some awesome riding and plenty of laughs.
So the day after the event finished, with various aches and pains starting to recede and others starting to become more evident, I’m once again struck by the enormity of the journey that we’ve undertaken – and the complexity of taking close to 800 people on a nine-day event across a huge swathe of South Africa.
It truly is a unique race and one that every mountain biker should do at least once.
I’ll definitely be back, but first I need a wee little break.
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.