Poof! Chris fired the gun and then we were off … C Batch with their bikes were off … I gladly waved and noted that I will be back here, on my bike a few hours later! We rode and got to the first major climb on the tar, and I immediately put the hammer down to set up a pace no one could match and it worked as I caught up with the father-daughter duo whom I met the evening before and just joined their train up until we went off the tar onto the trails where we flowed before I decided their pace was just too slow for me and overtook them before the lekker downhill by Tugela River. Flowed down, and as I was about to touch the river going to cross it, a few guys were pushing across the river and I thought … hmmm maybe I don’t need to push over this river, possibly I could ride over it. I rode it right! Until a rock came in front of me and I went over my handle bars right into the water, cooled down a bit but was hilarious for those around me and forced me to lose my gloves as they were wet. No one around me could believe a bloke on a hardtail could go swimming during a race. For a moment I thought my race was over and then I realized all was still well, bike was still well; body was okay … no damage was done.
I pushed out and managed to get back on the trail and started to pedal on the flat-ish Tugela side and I met a very nice lady wearing Sufferfest gear who recognized me from the year before, didn’t recognize me for my smile but for my crying in agony, so she requested I cry a bit so she could remember me more properly. So strange but I agreed and cried in agony a bit and she cracked and chuckled until she choked on air. We had a conversation for a while until she decided to stop and take a selfie. I told her that I couldn’t and that I will meet her again on the finish line for a beer and a quick banter if she finds me. Off again I rode … caught up with the father-daughter duo again and chilled with them, admiring the scenery and taking turns in the front with this train. When climbing out the Tugela the views of the river were breathtaking, somber and something out a sci-fi movie. The duo I was pacing with also gazed up and were so taken by it that the toppie almost fell over a rock. Now back to the course again, we climbed up and were met by local children politely asking us for chocolates and waving at us for climbing out the Tugela successfully and after that moment I decided to blast away from the duo to find another pack I could keep up with at higher speed as I was feeling just mighty amazing.