Dirty kit

Day 8 and the fan caravan is starting to look and feel a little threadbare… We are all ready to go home now. Everything is dirty – even the poor car has never seen this much dirt: the mud is actually dropping off in places.

Caught up with Mac and the Techies at the Cycle-Lab tent. They are finished. Many nights they barely slept and sadly many customers (who are taking part in the Sunday fun-ride here in Lourensford) are choosing today to show the monster side of themselves. Sometimes wonder if the pounding music the organisers play to try and generate “atmosphere” does not contribute mightily to the stress levels.

The lady in Blue… The most faithful of the faithful fan caravans : she stood at the fence for over three hours – just as she stood at every water point of every stage – and most days both her and her husband were on walking sticks…

Learning from the snarl-up in 2011, decided this year we wont try and get to the waterpoint, just came straight to Lourensford. Already parking is almost impossible: and the sheer dedication of some of the fans: Kingpos has to take the prize : an elderly couple (one of them with a walking stick) braving the dusty roads, helping each other through the obstacles – and they see it all as a huge privilege to be able to make the journey. Day after day they wait – sometimes for hours – for their team to arrive at all the waterpoints.

One of the banners some of the kids painted

Goodness me, Lourensford is beautiful. Cannot image what the upkeep on the place has to be: there is not a leaf out of place. By now have learnt the way to tell a well run farms is to walk past the irrigation. If all the sprayers or drippers are working, tied down and pointing in the right direction, things are being taken care of. These are the little things (“the keeping your stapler full”) that often makes the success difference.

In some way its weird to think that tomorrow we can sleep late : we don’t have to get up at 5:15. This is the first time in what seems like months the bicycle can sleep in too.

epic-cycle-tour- dawn wing
The Dawn Wing Girls – one last time – this time on the podium

Interesting side benefit of being on the road: you really learn how to use your equipment: turn the cell phone camera to the front lens to check your make-up in the absence of a mirror. Have learnt how to make the Garmin and the iPad jump through their own hoops and back again. This is the time one should actually write an operating manual – and start it with ‘this is why you bought the …’

Interesting thing about crowds – for a time they are all individuals, gathering for some vague common purpose – sometimes something rare happens – for a brief space in time they become one organism… A single mind concentrated on just one thing. Such was the level of unity when when Cerise and Burry’s brother crossed the line.

The lads – dirty and worn out, but totally relieved to have done it : again – they are now officially amabubezi

Being the last stage of the last day, there were wheelies galore – guys rode in waving flags, pictures of their families, banners and pulled all manner of stunts. Pick of the pack: Owen Hanni had to push Joel Stransky in – his derailer broke 1km out, a man rode in with his lady parter riding on the front of his bike and holding her bike: another broken derailer, one chap got on his knees under the arch, pulled an engagement ring out of his back pocket and proposed to his partner (awwww- sweet!!!), two sets ran in carrying their bikes and another pair did stunt hops over the line.

The lads came in a few minutes behind the Dawn Wing Girls : well within sight of them – which is almost as good as beating them.

And suddenly it is all over – after months of planning and training and all the stuff that goes into making something like this happen – the Tour de France of mountain biking is over for 2013. It is time to go back to real life, with a heap of astonishingly dirty kit and fabulous war stories…

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