This post should probably be called Mud Sweat and Tears, but that’s been used before and I need to move up the google search rankings with some original’ish content.
So for the record the Daily Crank took on the 75km MTB and the 50km road ride the next day. I should mention that I would’ve posted this sooner, but I’ve been ruminating, (yes ruminating, look it up) on my experiences from the weekend. I didn’t have the best experience and I wanted to let things sink in and work out why, because no one, me included, has ever had a bad word to say about the Knysna weekend and I didn’t want to be negative for no good reason. But a few weekends have past now and having done some fun post Knysna rides and I feel about the same. The weekend itself was festive and the organisation was excellent as always. What I also like about the cycling weekend of the Oyster Festival is that it’s a bit more chilled than the weekend of the half marathon.
The MTB ride itself was a complete slog from start to finish. I’m pretty fit as I’ve been riding regularly in Tokai and doing a long race every weekend, so it wasn’t as if I was unfit and therefore not enjoying the route. Granted, the weather didn’t come to the party and even caning it up the Simola hill didn’t help warm me up and I got progressively colder and colder the deeper we got into the forest. It’s at times like that when you remember why it’s called a rain forest, it says what it does on the tin. But onwards I slogged, up and down, up and down.
By the time I got to the 50km mark, I was cold, cramping and generally tired of going up or down. Weirdly enough I was also bored. Everything in the forest was the same, either you were going up a climb, or you were gingerly trying to come down one. I was thinking about throwing in the towel, but told myself I could walk the 25km and I should at least finish. Well we pretty much did walk the last 25km as it was a complete mud bath. Then just to round it off the last 3km had a lovely strong headwind! So all in all I didn’t enjoy it and to be honest, having done a few of the 75km rides now, I don’t think I’ll do anymore. There’s nothing amazing in the last 25km and you can avoid marshals telling you with 25km to go that it’s ‘mostly downhill’. But I might even think twice about the 50k. For my part, there isn’t enough variation in the route and going up and down jeep tracks for 75km gets pretty boring after awhile. There are also no real flat parts when you can recover, or give it a good go and give your legs a break from going up or down.
And it wasn’t just me, chatting to other guys in the race, I got the same impression. I’ve done quite a few of the races around the country this season and maybe that’s why I was so disppointed with Knysna, it didn’t even come close to some of the exciting and fun routes I’ve ridden this year. I’d love to see some more single track for a start and maybe some more flat sections where you can really get some rhythm going. ( I know some people will be saying, ya, ya, but mountain biking is not about rythmn, if you want that, go and do a road ride).
The next day I rode the 50km with my girlfriend and I must say I wasn’t impressed with the road ride either! On the N2 with trucks and cars flying past while you try to stay on the hard shoulder is not my idea of a fun organised ride. And it’s not a scenic ride either, there’s just forest on either side. On the plus side, the weather was great and the best part is coming down the hill at the end though, good fun. I know it’s impossible to close the N2, but for relatively inexperienced cyclists (like my gf), it’s notthe best course and can be quite scary with all the cars and trucks whizzing past.
So apologies if this is all a bit negative, but I’d love to see some changes to the routes, especially the 75km MTB. Thanks to all the organisers and the marshals though, I really do think you guys put in a lot of hard work and effort and the atmosphere is always amazing!