Enduroman SA, the MTB course loop 1 recce ride

BlogESA-MTB-Loop-1

So we did the 1st loop of Enduroman SA on Saturday. Very, very interesting. As you all know, Enduroman SA is an ultra-distance off-road triathlon hosted in the scenic Franschhoek mountains. The bike and run course were designed by local resident, Geddan Ruddock, MTB supremo. The race starts with a 2.5 km swim in the Berg River dam, followed by 80 kms of mountain biking. The MTB route consists of a 45 Km and 35 Km loop. The run leg is 7 Kms x 3, making it a half marathon distance trail run. 

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About the MTB course: the fun starts right off the bat. As you start the bike section, (A) you are faced with a steep climb, as the route profile will testify. And here’s the thing, half of it is fist sized loose rocks under the wheel. If you get your line wrong or spin out, you are going to walk it. You can’t mount and get going again. 

The flat table top section (B) is actually very nice. This contour runs along the mountain surrounding the dam. Enjoy it. Because it is the only nice part of this loop. The view is spectacular, but one wrong line and you’ll roll down the mountain. Enjoy the view at your own risk. Also, at this point already, I want to state it in capitals: USE LUST TYRES WITH LOTS OF SEALANT! 100 ml per tyre. Even at this stage it is “side-wall cut city”. There are lots of side-wall cutters and many sections are overgrown. You won’t see it coming. Personally I’m gonna pack a gator as well. 

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Now onto section C. This is the kind of terrain I detest: two downhill jeep tracks sections, strewn with loose rocks. There are millions. Size-wise, as big as eggs, to baseballs, to half a rugby ball. It looks like a hail storm that just fell, only it was rocks. Braking is risky, lines are crucial, and any fall will be painful, race ending, and beyond. I would not risk anything here. Rather lose a minute but get to the bottom in one piece. Walk if you must. 

Now the painfull part starts. That is the rather flat D section. Expect uneventful criss-crossing, beach sand and other weird stuff. A word of advice, if it feels like fun, pretend it is not, because this section will drain your legs more than any preceding part. Once you hit the endless sandy camel humps you will know that only a steady rythm will get you through this race. After all, loop two contains the most climbing and it’s waiting! We could not cross the dam wall. The yellow line on the GPS map is kind of where I assume the route will lead. The black “X” is a definite portage of about 100 meters through the river. Wet shoes for all. 

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Section E brought out the real racer in me. I liked this bit. It is a mutha’ of a climb. When you think it’s over, it is only half way. I like! Then it is another bit of criss-crossing (F) to finish loop 1.

Some other noteworthy points: if water levels are gonna be high, mud will be your enemy. The knee-deep kind. Pack lube, a chain breaker and master-links. We only rode 38 Km’s and climbed 500 meters. 7 km’s were off-limits on the day. 

In a day or two I will post my views on the run loop. Stay tuned!

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