The week leading up to the race was very strange for me. Usually, I’m excited and nervous and shed a few tears along the way. This time it was totally different, I was scared and not sure if I even want to do the race.
Race weekend arrived and we made our way to Willowmore for the race. We registered and the nervous started to set in. Having my beautiful partner, as well as my coach JD assuring me that everything will be fine, and I am ready for the race. I did expect the vibe at registration to be more upbeat and festive.
The morning of the race was also not as I expected as there were no food stalls
or anything like that available. That was a bit of a low regarding the organisation.
The race started at 10:00 and the temperature was already high. We started with a bang and made our way to the front where we joined some of the faster bunches. About 5km into the race both my gluts cramped for the 1 st time ever in a race. Maybe it was the nervous, excitement or just my body telling me to slow down there is still a long way to go.
The first Aid station was at about 50km where we had some peanut butter roosterkoek. I did some stretching and tried to get these gluts relaxed. The body felt ok and JD just kept on telling me Eugene you are looking good keep it up. Tiaan our teammate got a flat tire around 70km into the race and that set us back about 10min. Riding through scenic routes and getting cooled down by the water running off the mountains made me forget about and cramps or pain. We got to Smitskraal where we were met with some singing of the blinkpotte and some amazing venison sosaties. At this stage I knew that the worse is yet to come. The toughest section of the race is here. The climbs are starting. We got to the Fangs and I just had to get of my bike and push the first 100m. JD stopped and said “Eugene just push through it, focus on your breathing”. So I got back on the bike and pushed through the pain. Made it to Mac but had to push the last two hundred meters.
The weather changed and it was cold and rainy at the top of Bergplaas. I was done, tired felt sick and just fell of my bike at Bergplaas. JD dressed me, put dry socks on, filled my bottles. He also brought me soup and bread. I didn’t want to carry on but JD kept on telling me that I’m fine and its all downhill from
here (my body yes not the mountain). From Bergplaas to Pakhuis was amazing. We kept a good average and the body felt great. Must have been the soup.
We had some chip rolls at Pakhuis and started the last section home. But the race had some more pain for us to endure. The Never Ender felt like it will never end. Battled our way up the mountain till we reached Zuurbron. Had some jaffels and we knew we are home.
We raced the last 28km home. We forgot about the sore muscles and tired legs, all we wanted to do is ride over the finish line like champs. I must give a special thanks to a special coach. If it wasn’t for JD I don’t think that I would have made
That night, after the race, my body felt broken. I knew I had accomplished something far greater than what I imagined it to be. I knew it was going to be tough and extreme, but in hindsight, Trans Baviaans reminds me of a JRR Tolkien quote: "It is not the strength of the body that counts, but
the strength of the spirit."
By Eugene Van Tonder