The racing in the mixed category of the DCM Cape Pioneer might just turn out to be one of the big highlights of the six day mountain bike tour in the Southern Cape.
Ischen Stopforth and Marcel Deacon won the first stage from Oudtshoorn to Mosselbay (135km) in 6 hours 49 minutes and 36 seconds. Kobus and Fienie Barnard finished second in 6:52:31 and the Swiss Team of Patrick Griessen and Ariane Luthi were third in 7 hours and 2 minutes.
But the battle is far from being won.
Yolandi de Villiers and Johan Labuschagne who despite finishing 5th yesterday, 45 minutes behind Stopforth/Deacon, refused to accept defeat.
“I know we are one of the stronger teams, we just had some really bad luck. Quite early on during the race Johan had the unfortunate privilege to have his bike’s tyre cut open by a sharp rock.
“Because it was such a big cut, we immediately realized that we were in serious trouble. We did not have a spare tyre with us. There was no way to fix such a big cut on route.
“It meant that Johan was forced to stop every few kilometers to fix a puncture. I just kept on riding at a slow consistent pace hoping that he would catch up with me. It became so bad that near the end of the race I had to wait nearly 45 minutes at the side of the road before Johan eventually reached me. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was for both of us,” De Villiers said.
Listening to her it is clear that the top three teams in the mixed category might have won the first DCM Cape Pioneer battle but definitely not the war.
“We are going to go ‘guns blazing’ right to the end. I know that we are capable of making up ten minutes in each of the remaining stages that is of course barring another serious mechanical setback.”
One of the remarkable stories of the day was the ride of Nathalie Schaeffer and Renate Teller from the Ride for Hearing Team who is the current leaders in the category for women. They won yesterday’s first stage in 7 hours 33 minutes and 48 seconds.
What makes them true DCM Cape Pioneer heroes is the fact that Telser is deaf but keeps on challenging life full on. Scheiffer won the women’s World Cup-race in Switzerland.
Robyn Adendorf and Sarah van Heerden finished second in yesterday’s women’s race. Their time was 7:56:46.
Yesterday’s real heroes were certainly the riders who battled for ten hours and longer on route to finish and for whom giving up were never an option.
Lothar Schar from Switzerland described his ride as “very hard but also very beautiful.”
“Throughout our whole race I was amazed with how the vegetation along the route kept on changing. It was unbelievable.”
Anton Roux from Klerksdorp described his ride as an ultimate challenge.
“It was a hell of a ride, really tough but oh so enjoyable. The scenery along the route made all our suffering worthwhile.”
Sias le Roux from Potchefstroom reckons that the DCM Cape Pioneer might be a slightly easier ride than the Cape Epic which meant that he enjoyed every minute of his ride.
“The only tough part was the last 20 kilometers. By that stage “lekker was not lekker” anymore. I just wanted to get to the finish. I appreciated the wind that was blowing because it helped to cool us down.”
The fact that there is a feeling of “one for all and all for one” amongst the riders is best illustrated by Gary Leeuw and his teammate. About halfway through the race they saw how a rider crashed badly landing full on his head, losing his consciousness. Without thinking twice they immediately stopped and stayed with the rider and his teammate until they were sure that he was in capable hands before resuming their ride.