i like it when people say i'm scared of nothing - bu reality is that i'm scared of quite a lot of things ... like being lost in a forest in the dark all by myself, as i realised last weekend - i added another DNF to my repertoire this year, and this time, solely because i was scared. But thank you anyway, Eric :)
I do the D&D's partly because of the cool crowd of people that i get to ride with, but mostly because night riding is highly addictive ... up to a point where once a week isn't enough. So i googled every race calendar i could find for more night riding. Seems there's not a lot of night-riding going on in a year - you can take on a full adventure race in the hope that at least some cycling will be on single track at night, or there's the noon 2 moon and 24hours northern farms all on the same weekend, the sabie shenanigans, transbaviaans, and the midlands mystery mally (past weekend) - and that's about it :(
Oh yes, and then there's the non-stop-sani2c and the freedom-challenge if you've got a really bad case of addiction, or the telkom satellite night-MTB if you can justify the fuel & time to go there to cycle 10 kays.
The crater cruise sounded too much like a roadie-ride off road, so paul, jan, elja & i headed to midmar dam for a staged mountain bike race along the same lines as the sabie shenanigans: a rally-style race consisting of a 50 kay day stage followed by a night stage of 45 kays - if you don't get lost, that is :)
The day stage was over varied terrain, a few longish climbs, a hike & carry-your-bike section, a fast downhill through the forest, some rain-relief against the warm humid October-natal-air, some magnificent down hills that still make me smile thinking back, Jan & Paul catching up on us just as I discovered the broken derailleur & then realised that i lost my map - they picked the map up so i didn't have to go back up the awesome downhill, and then sommer fixed the broken derailleur while they were in the area ...
The transition was at a hotel somewhere between the forests & tracks & rivers & waterfalls; hot showers, hot chocolate, coffee, lasagna, even a comfortable coach for a quick snooze...
Anyway - before this becomes a race report - 'cos Frequent Flyer will do the proper write-up - let me come to the point of this email - the part where i opted for a DNF because i was too scared:
All but four teams withdrew from the night stage, and due to circumstances outside our control, the fireflies (elja & i) started the night-stage in the very last position. So now there were 3 (very strong) teams ahead of us somewhere out there, & we trailing behind. Just outside the town, a drunken guy wanted a lift, and when we ignored the request, started running with us. We outcycled him, but could still hear him shouting abuse after us for what seemed like hours... it was about then that we hit a corrugated downhill ... which was when i realised that i never put the brakes back after the derailleur-fixing episode at the hotel. I managed to stop to put the brakes back, all the while knowing that the shouting running guy is catching up on us ... long story short, i felt very uncomfortable and when we missed a turn-off a few minutes later and lost about 50 minutes climbing the wrong mountain, we realised that the other teams were now about an hour ahead of us; and we'll be alone the rest of the night, and that even if the derailleur held, & there were no other mechanicals, we'll have to stop every now and again to look at the map ... and stopping wasn't safe...
So we quitted.
If more teams entered, we wouldn't have felt so utterly lost & alone in the forest - it helps to know there are other people in the area.
And here, finally after all the ramblings, is the point of this email:
Why were there so few teams?
maybe there's just too much going on in a year?
maybe it clashed with the crater cruise?
maybe it's too expensive for gauteng-teams to go down to midmar, but at R420 per team entry (2 or 3 people, which included a hot shower, supper, midnight soup, rolls & hot chocolate, & breakfast) it was excellent value for money for the midlanders?
maybe night-riding is too daunting?
maybe the total distance of just under 100 for the day is too daunting?
maybe ... any other suggestions?