Today 25 July 2015 the Tour de France goes up the legendary Alpe d’Huez, 13.8km, 1100m ascent to the top. The 21 hairpins are numbered in reverse and each one has a plaque of a previous Alp d’Huez winner on the corner.
In 2006 I had the privilege of riding up Alp d’Huez to see Frank Schleck take the win in a sprint from Damiano Cunego. I wore my special T-Mobile shirt Anya Gous), rode my red 26″ Specialized Epic up the climb and positioned myself at the T-Mobile corner (#2). It was the year that Floyd Landis broke my heart. Since my childhood I had dreamed of riding up Alp d’Huez and to this day I can still see the sights and hear the sounds when I close my eyes.
I will never forget this day.
Doing race sweeps for the CHOC Cows helps to combine my passion for mountain biking with an attempt to do make a small contribution to the lives of children with cancer. I get to enjoy privileges they don’t and that has not escaped me. We ride at the back of the field in cow suits helping fellow riders with mechanical problems, feeding them hydration and nutrition and often just moral support. We recently swept the Van Gaalen 100km Ultra and Mabalingwe Marathon, both times riding in with the last riders and at Mabalingwe riding most of the route in 25C with a winter fleece cow print onzie.
I feel blessed to be able to perform this function in a scorching hot cow suit so if you want to show your support, please visit the GivenGain site and help make a difference for the CHOC kids.
I entered this race last minute after I had heard very good feedback from several friends. We drove there wondering how much fun it could be riding around in sand and dry bush. Were we in for a surprise! The past 3 days have been some of the best mountain bike riding I have done and many others concurred.
– The bulk of the route is single track, lots and lots of single track, winding through the bush, I felt like a kid again, playing with my bike from one corner to the next, one challenge to the next, not a single dull moment.
– The route is carefully crafted by people who clearly understand how to make a mountain bike race that can be enjoyed by both advanced and entry level riders. Whilst it is by no means an easy race, it is suitable for all levels of riders. I did not hear a single complaint about the route, everyone was just smiling from ear to ear.
– Yes, there was sand, yes, there were plenty of thorns and punctures of both tyres and body parts, yes there were lots of rocky sections … but the fun factor outweighed these challenges by a mile!
– The race village is constructed in the middle of nowhere which brings some challenges, none of which were an issue. The team pulled out every stop to make the experience pleasant and memorable. Where else would you get a massive warm blanket, a thick mattress, a warm water bottle before bed time and a chair and a light in your tent?
– On a personal level I rode with Christie Engelbrecht and we combined wonderfully well and flirted just outside the top 10 every day. Positions and times I guess matter sometimes but tonight my happiness cup runeth over and no matter where we finished or how fast we went in the final results, we had an incredible experience and made memories that will last a lifetime.
– Special word for the Rescue Unit & Medics. What a cool bunch! Bumped into them at Mokolodi Backpackers the night before the race, became instant friends, shared a few chats along the way and the final night they invited us into their inner circle and shared some of their precious coffee liqueur. Hendrik and team, thank you for looking after us all.
– Seamus ONeill you and you team put on an event which deserves every accolade it gets, your attention to detail in every aspect make the Botswana Kalahari Challenge a MUST DO for every mountain biker out there! Very well done!