Balancing your boogie at go2berg – Day 1
At a multi-stage mountain bike event like the Old Mutual go2berg, the riding is the easy part.
You get on your bike, ride, try not to hit a cow, sheep, inquisitive farm dog, or other animals as listed by Old McDonald in every parent’s favourite road trip song, stop every 25k or so for a boerewors roll feast, ride some more, chat non-stop to fellow riders till they race away from you for some unknown reason, and eventually finish. Stage 1 of the go2berg – Frankfort to Reitz – done. No problem.
The hard part(s) come with all the sideshows that combine to make the event wonderfully welcoming; like the Nottingham Road Brewery Pig Rig, which dutifully drives from race village to race village in service of the riders, pouring ice-cold ‘Notties’ lagers, pilseners, porters and G&Ts for your pleasure. If you’re incredibly unlucky (that is, fit) and you finish your daily ride around lunchtime, the Pig Rig becomes a tougher obstacle than any rocky descent or singletrack switchback could ever hope to be.
Or the mobile Seattle Coffee stall, that cranks to life every morning at 5am and pumps out more cortados for thirsty ous in three hours than a Cape Town southern suburbs cafe does all Saturday. Tearing yourself away from the chatty baristas and their caffeine concoctions is virtually impossible, creating the awkward situation where the only riders lining up in A batch each morning are the three decaf drinkers who have never lived a full life.
It gets trickier still when you arrive at a race village (in the case of today’s stage 1, Reitz) and the enthusiastic locals have not only prepared a braai feast for lunch but have also clearly been baking since last November.
Sweet treats like fudge, crunchies, brownies and koeksister balletjies (or ‘deconstructed koeksisters’ for fans of fine dining) are strategically placed throughout the dining area to ensure that by the final day of riding, no rider will be able to fit into the kit they’ve packed for the event.
Of course, these are all surmountable issues that can be easily overcome with a modicum of focus.
Something not so easy to defeat at the go2berg, which tests all riders hardy enough to stay in tents for six nights, is the Changeroom Cha Cha – the changeroom, in this case, being your tent and the Cha-Cha being the increasingly complicated manoeuvres you need to perform to get dressed in a confined space as the ride start time draws nearer (and when your brain is fried from five pre-dawn flat whites).
Some wise riders booked into hostels or B&Bs last night in Frankfort, but this rider, hoping to absorb the full go2berg experience stayed true to his tent booking – forgetting over the past 400 days or so just how little space there is in a tent for a large gentleman to dress comfortably for a mountain bike ride.
The Changeroom Cha-Cha starts by zipping up your tent door (don’t omit this crucial step) hunching over, like you’re trying to inspect the lint in your belly button, and pulling on a moisture-wicking undergarment without putting your arms through the roof of the tent.
Undershirt securely placed, the next move involves slipping bib shorts over the feet and then kneeling in the manner of praying in front of your television for a match-winning Springbok try during a Rugby World Cup final to pull the bib shorts up and over your shoulders, struggling for a while as the stretchy material battles your enormous… quads.
Naturally, as you complete this move, you remember that the bum cream has to be applied, so down go the shorts, and in, well on (only in if your aim is bad), goes the cream.
Rider jersey and socks are relatively easy; socks are somewhat trickier if you don’t want to step outside into the morning chill and need to plonk yourself down somewhere inside the tent, stretching hammies unwittingly as you lunge towards your toes.
Dance recital and inadvertent warm-up complete, the day can begin by looking around for someone to talk to for the duration of the ride, in the hope that they’re a lot weaker on the bike and can’t speed off to avoid you…
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