With advertising by-lines like RIDE THIS ONE YOU WILL REMEMBER IT, and ARE YOU TOUGH ENOUGH?. The annual Steeltek race at the Lurie Ruskamp promised to be at the very least a tough one.
Now Jamie and the Steeltek race have a history, and not a happy one ……… he has yet to finish a Steeltek with both himself and/or his bike intact …….. in fact …….. he has yet to finish a Steeltek race full stop.
Add to the mix this will be his last ride on his beloved Merida 29’er (its got to go up for sale on behalf of the sponsor to make way for the new …… to be announced). Boy did he love this bike.
Add to this there is only one race this year, no kiddie dash, no family ride, no 30 kay – only 60 km and on a new course set to challenge the riders to their limits. There is 2000 meters of climbing (more than the Karoo to Coast). You are asked to check out the race profile before the race so that you dont start too fast.
Add to this ……. the Mountain Events, Fat Tracks and Steeltek have dangled a once off cherry to the participants. Finish the race in Sub-4 hours and you will get a special T-shirt. Oh there was a nifty amount of prize money, but the T-shirt was the real cherry.
Add to this the weather has been playing up as normal.
All the riders wanted that T-shirt. Top local and not so local riders started entering the race.
As we set off, Frans shouts to us, still under the comfort of his downy duvet. “There is enough petrol to go 120 km – it will be plenty”
As we hit the J-bay turnoff it was as if the petrol tank started sucking its own juice. 50 kays left it said. Crossing the Gamtoos – 30 kays (impossible! its not 20 km from J-bay turnoff to Gamtoos. By the time we hit the Thornhill turn off it said 10 km. We limped into Lurie.
Now, Lurie is cycling heaven, all the names are there. Lots of really nice bikes. Lots of bike talk. Eventually the cyclists set off.
Did I mention that Lurie Ruskamp is in the middle of nowhere, except, close to Lurie. To my horror I find out that Lurie does NOT have a petrol station and somehow I must get petrol in Hankey .
“How far is Hankey?” I ask .
“20 km” the oke says.
“Oh dear” I say “I only have enough petrol to go 10 km”
“Ag then its about 10, but dont worry its all downhill” He retorts.
I decided since its a four hour wait I will try my luck at getting to Hankey, and if I get stuck I will phone a friend at the race.
Off I go, as I start the car the light starts beeping ………. 0 km’s it says. I decide to see it through.
Now next time someone says to you “Its all downhill”, dont believe them. I have never been so happy to see Sarah Baartmans grave in my life, I think I made hankey on fumes in the Ford.
Anyway …….. The car and I get back armed with 300 bucks in the tank and now I can relax.
The race has started claiming it first victims. Last year, at this race I saw one oke limp home with s SQUARE wheel, I kid you not, it was square.
After 2h31 mins Jason Meaton flew in ….. “Shew that was tough”
Ten mins later Conrad Viljoen ….. “Tough”
and a mere 4 minutes later Jason Reed ……. “Toughest Ever!!!!”
And these guys are top top riders at the peak of their game.
More casualties came in, and still Jamie and his friend Nick are out there.
The riders start dribbling in, each of them heaving a sigh of relief as they come over the finsh.
At the 3 hour 40 mark I see Jamie in his Custom Bike shirt comming up the big finish hill. He had made the 4 hour cut off AND he had got the T-shirt. A few minutes later Nick came in …… he also got a T-shirt.
The last sub 4’s dribbled in, and then the wait began for the rest of the field. The question on everyones lips as they rode in was “Did you get the T-shirt?”
The T-shirt was important, 4 pieces of white cotton sewn together with some printing on it became a major aquisition at the Steeltek. I proved that you were Tough Enough.
Which all got me thinking. Sometimes we need these physical reminders that we are good enough.
Rosie and Jamie gave Frans a mug which says # 1 DaD, he knows he is a good Dad, but boy does he love his mug. Many years ago ……… many many years ago, Jamie painted Rosie a mug saying “MY BEST SISTER”, that she is his only sister is irrelevant, after he gave her the mug they were nice to each other for about two minutes and then the bickering started again. I keep the mug in memory of those two minutes.
I have a sticker …….. yes a sticker saying “MOMS TAXI” ……….. mmmmmm, I wonder …. does this mean I am tough enough?