Below feedback from Mike Clarke on the experience:
The start was the usual mix of excitement and nerves and there was some additional juggling that was going on in my mind prior to start….
Ummm – we were about to embark on the longest MTB race either Jeanine or I had ever done, how would our body’s handle given we’d both become vegans in the last year – would our nutritional plan stand us in good stead, we had a game plan on how to ride the race but would that play out or would a completely different plan playout and how would we match up as a mixed team with our formidable partners Francois and “I always win” Kotie. Oh and we were doing the race on a tandem and Jeanine and I are married and we’ve raced with male tandems before and the power differences between a mixed tandem and male tandem is as big as the Transbaviaanskloof itself – certainly on the flats – would we be able to keep up and how familiar would I need to become with their back wheel and cassette. How long could my ego last looking at their back wheel. Oh and we’d just moved house a few weeks earlier. You can see I was certainly ready to get on the bike and ride my mind clear. Clear it would become but first all the rackets/demons bottled up in my mind had to get out and that they did over the first 80 odd kilometers.
If you’ve seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit or The Mask then you’d know what my eyes and face looked like as my internal rackets came out onto the court as my ego tried to keep our mixed tandem up with the boys as they blew past one group of single bikes to the next. Another male tandem that we caught along the way didn’t help things either as our boys did some chest bouncing with them for a while, while my tongue dragged even further behind our bike. Oh and of course I kept asking the boys what their heart rate was and all I ever got was oh something around the 130-140 and cruising which was in complete contrast to mind which was never below 165 and often above 170 – heck my ego was getting hammered left right and centre. No matter which way it tried to go it kept getting put back into its place. Even when we said we wanted to do some pacing on the front to get our rhythm, the boys ended up going so easy they even stopped every now and then to sort a few things out before riding back to us and casually looking at me as if to say, please can we go to the front now because we’re in danger of falling asleep at the back 🙂 and falling off our bike. Whether this was actually the case, is not the point, this is what my ego was having to deal with. All the while my ego knew that my darling wife was watching the show and letting me get on with it knowing that everything was going according to the “antitheses plan” – in other words nothing like the plan – as she has expected and as I had assured her it wouldn’t. Grrrrr…
Then something happened…..
I’m not sure why but my ego ran out of steam and cashed in and Mike arrived. Somewhere around 80km’s I gave Francois a hug and my darling wife a kiss and looked at our Springbok Tug of War champion Kotie and said, I’m going to ride at our planned heart rates until I can find my rhythm. In some funny way by putting the responsibility of the pace on my HR I wasn’t responsible for how fast or slow we went anymore – quiet weird but it worked.
Suddenly I started to notice the beautiful surroundings we were riding in, the amazing feeding stations and supporters, a baboon in a tree, the amazing river crossings and the extraordinary team I was having the privilege of riding with. Mike was back and together with the boys we created a whole new approach to riding together blended with special calling signals, one of which we owe to Finding Nemo which the boys used to check where we were at and how we were doing – one call from Francois or Kotie saying “Mike” followed by a quick reply from us saying “Mike” meant we were right on their wheel and in fine shape whereas two “Mike Mikes” would mean that we’d fallen a little back and Francois needed to back peddle against Kotie to slow them down and of course many “Mike Mike Mike’s” meant we were no where to be seen or heard and that the boys could have some tea and wait for us. But it worked and together as a team we just got stronger and stronger and faster although I’m sure it was the boys who may have just been getting more and more tiered (oh dear that’s my ego coming back 🙂 let me put it in check again.
We finished eventually as a superb team and the war stories continued in the 6 hour trip back home. Always a good sign. What a life experience.
Team Tandem Manic Cycles – thank you Francois and Kotie for being such amazing guys and for making our ride not a good one but a truly great one !! The back up support and our second Leon brought a whole new meaning to the word “amazing second” – he is truly not from this world….what a gentleman and his work effort – extraordinary !!
For those looking to do the Transbaviaans on a Tandem – it comes highly recommended and I can say that Francois is an expert on tandems and top notch in his support of the growth of tandem riding. Thank you Francois for introducing us to the world MTB Tandem riding – fun, safe, fast and with the latest technologies they run as smooth as any single bike and in some areas even better.