You know that feeling when you haven’t done your homework? Well that is
kinda how I’m feeling at the moment. I was quite a nerd at school and always
made sure I studied for my tests. So you can just imagine how much I am out
of my comfort zone. But somehow, I am strangely enough loving this. Someone
asked me today if I would do the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek next year at a
moment in the race where I was actually pushing my bike up a climb too steep
to even ride and my answer was “why not!?”. For the first time in my life I
don’t have a clue what I’m doing other than to pedal my bike forward and it
feels good. So let me tell you a bit more about my Pioneer adventure…

So after our mudbath initiation on Stage 1, I thought it couldn’t get any
harder… Then it did… Stage 2 started off at the speed of a road race.
The stage would finish at the top of the Swartberg Pass and I kinda realised
we were in for a long, rough day. Then the poo hit the fan… Just as I was
settling on the first climb I got a bad sidewall cut. As I had never really
dealt with mechanicals in a MTB race, I soon realised that would be my first
lesson on how to put in a tube. JL was so incredibly patient with me and
fixed the tyre. We were seconnd on the road at the time when Lady Luck
decided to spoil our day.

John-Lee gives Anriette a helping hand as they ascend Swartberg Pass on Stage 2. Photo: Oakpics
John-Lee gives Anriette a helping hand as they ascend Swartberg Pass on Stage 2. Photo: Oakpics

We wasted so much time that our race was pretty much over from there. We
played catch up for the rest of the day. By the time we hit the Swartberg
Pass I was empty and shamelessly hung onto John Lee’s pockets like a
Christmas decoration. I felt sorry for him, because he climbs like a
homesick angel on any normal day and now he was literally riding with an
extra person on his back! But we managed to finish and thank goodness my
masseur did her magic to glue me back together.

Stage 3… A life lesson in mtb’ing… This was probably one of the worst
days with bad luck I’ve EVER experienced on a bike. And then it hit me…
Mountain biking is all about tyre choice and pressure… You can do all the
training in the world, but if your tyres suck, so do you. Between the two of
us we punctured three times. We walked a couple of kilometers to a
waterpoint coz we were out of spares and I promised half my life away to a
Swiss gentleman that was kind enough to give us his spare tube. So I want to
forget the day… But remember the lesson.

Every day has had me out my comfort zone in a different way, but today I am
convinced I did a biathlon stage, I walked so much! I never knew steep
climbs like that existed! And on a normal day, the furthest I would walk is
to the fridge… But the view was magnificent! But what went up had to go
back down. I saw my life flash past me a couple of times when I tried to
follow JL’s wheel. He rolled down the mountain like a rock! We finished in
one piece and although I feel like I’ve been beaten with a meat mallet,
tomorrow we fight another day. Still loving every moment of it… We’re
almost in the home straight…


Blog: Anriette Schoeman

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