joBerg2c 2011 Day 2: Frankfort to Reitz
Morning Has Broken (or Who Turned on the Damn Lights?)
Day 2 began early. We were woken by fellow riders rustling about in their tents at around 4am, which is the same time that the floodlights on the field were turned back on. Despite my best efforts there was no avoiding getting up and we began preparing and packing up not too long after the first signs of life in the race village.
Today sees us heading 93km towards Reitz, a small farming town that is located in the northeastern part of the Free State. Janine and I rode this stage of the race earlier in the year when we came through for the Bielie Mielie race. The Bielie Mielie had been a wet and muddy event, described aptly by one rider as a ‘bog-and-snorkel race’, but the poor weather had not been able to fully detract from what we believed would be a great route in the dry. And today was dry, so we had high expectations.
No Neutral for the Tractor!
Once again the start begins behind the huge Massey Ferguson tractor. The start takes us out through the town’s main road and is intended to be a neutral zone. However, the driver of the tractor was clearly very enthusiastic to be leading the peloton and raced out of the town at top tractor speed, leaving all the riders straggling behind. (There was a lot of clapping and laughing about this at the race highlights later that same evening.)
On the Trail on Day 2
We exit the town by riding along next to the Wilge River, and then up and across and back into the maize fields of the Free State. Crossing the bridge presents the riders with an amazing site of a tangled mass of decaying gum trees that have been swept down the river by previous storms, and have collected up against the concrete pylon that support the bridge.
The day offers up more sections of mouth-watering single track. One early section in particular had riders whooping for joy as they chased down a hill towards a water crossing. The last section, getting down to the water crossing, was reasonably technical and saw some riders opting to walk the obstacle instead. Although slippery no riders managed to tumble into the drink getting across the stream; at least not while I was making my way across.
Further into the race we found ourselves riding along a ridgeline with fantastic views of the countryside. One really gets a sense of space in these wide-open places!
Much of the race takes us along forgotten district road and remote farm track. Although the terrain presents no real climbing, the rolling hills keep us peddling in earnest. The last 10km makes the entire ride as it presents us with some superb sections of flowing, fun and in parts testing single track that leads us down a hill and into a huge expanse of veld. To top it all off we ride through the HuskyRomi Rescue and Wolf Sanctuary and are received by baying cheerleaders of the furry variety.
Overnight in Reitz
The Reitz show grounds are our overnight venue and I overjoyed to discover that Itec are sponsoring free beer, which really makes my afternoon. For dinner we are treated to a mouth-watering lamb on the spit.
We hit the tent after dinner and get our housekeeping done quickly so that we are ready for Day 3, a monster of a day that gets us to Sterkfontein Dam.