Stage 2 – Ramabanta Trading Post Lodge to Roma Trading Post Lodge (with a couple of local lodges along the way too, ?. I am not far off the mark in all seriousness. At the top of one of the climbs, I complimented a gent standing alongside his house on the view he had set out for himself. His grin was one to behold).
Last night, I knew exactly what I wanted to say and how I wanted to start this post but it is all lost upon me now, ?. Sadly, all I can write is that I felt that it was a good introduction.
I crawled into my tent early last night but no amount of good will or intentions was going to get me to fall asleep. I was thinking about this section and what I did there and could have done otherwise. But then there was that piece and the part just before it and how about this moment and, oh-yes, there was that bit too. All of it flashing through my minds-eye over and over. It was ridiculous and had no end. When I calmed those string-of-thoughts, the words I heard during race briefing got set in the starting blocks and then bolted through my brain. I needed to sleep but that other traffic controller had an entirely different view on the current state of affairs. I was wishing time away incredibly because all I wanted was to get on the bike and ride. At 2:00, I woke up, convinced that it was time to rise and shine but I was the only soul with that idea so I conceded defeat and tried, once again, to fall asleep. It was an aimless tussle all night.
Yesterday was fantastic. Today was phenomenal. Let us not even try to measure the one day up against the other. Partly because it would be an injustice but more honestly because I have a poor recollection of what we encountered today. It was a blur and so bizarre that when we hit fifty kilometres (with the realisation that only one kilometre remained), my heart sank with disappointment. Where had all of two hours and forty five minutes dropped through. Lunch reaffirmed this stance. As everyone recollected various sections, I was at odds placing myself in those exact situations. Did I do the same route?
The combination and proportions of up versus down was perfect. The climbs were again unique in that there was always something else to focus on besides turning the cranks over (whether it be loose rocks, loamy gravel, ledges, soft ground, grass banks or all of these at once) and the descents were things of dreams. Many lengths had almost everything jumbled together, ?. Can we not do some of these days twice or will I be forced to do a u-turn at the bottom and head back up.
Besides Grant Usher nearly castrating himself with the aid of his blunt saddle, our ride was flawless and with every passing metre, we rode quicker and more smoothly. So much so that we pulled back all the time and positions we lost while Grant was wreathing on the ground, speaking in tongues and catching stars. It was terrible to witness but, man, was I glad that this cup passed me by.
I adjusted the rebound on my front fork last night and the change worked a treat. At times I felt that I was on Merida rails. No drop appeared to be too high or ledge too steep. Everything was sticking like glue. I love cross-country racing and these two days have strung together hundreds of cross-country tracks that I never knew existed.
I think that you are able to deduce that I am having more than just fun in these mountains! The official #MountainBikeKingdom sounds like a cliche. Be assured that it is not. The no-hype atmosphere one picks up from the race is an injustice to the routes, but the unassuming nature that fills the off-the-bike moments are welcomed and appreciated by all hundred odd of us spoiled riders.