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Roche Smit May 2013
Been spending endless time in the Loerie bush on the Loop for the Rocky Roads Enduro Funday. Little did I know that it would be such a huge task. Finding your way over mountains, through valleys and crossing donga’s can demotivate you rather quickly when after hours of work you come to a dead end by means of a cliff or impossible river crossing. What’s more is doing this all on your own and and being aware that leopards, baboons, snakes and other wild animals are watching you. Getting trapped in a small raduis with a fully grown bull was my most daunting moment in the middle of nowhere and needless to say I walked on air as I found my way to safety. In the end it is all worth it. Knowing there is new riding terrain for yourself and others to enjoy. There a few others out there that brave the elements to create these Enduro paths and want to take my hat of to you….or should I rather say my helmet!!!
THE 37TH CASTROL WINTERBERG ENDURO
from the perspective of a novice (Roche Smit)
Ok, so exactly 16 months ago my brother-in-law invited me into his garage to witness the exhilarating experience of a YZ 250F at full revs in a small confined space. I had never been on a motorbike before and was super intimidated by this loud aggression and quickly departed, saying “You will never find me on a thing like this!!!”
My words were hardly cold, when just a few months later, I made a deposit to his account, and the YZ had a new home - my garage!
Entering the Winterberg Enduro as an inexperienced novice rider is a daunting experience. Simply making it to the start line has already seen a complete enduro take place in our lives. From convincing our partners that “it’s safe”, understanding the entry procedure, dealing with over active nerves, standing in line at registration next to Chris Birch (apparently a descent rider) realizing that your R800 helmet is the cheapest thing in the room, to being worried that your Makro gazebo at your so called “pits” is going to blow away halfway into the loop and naturally having exhausted your credit card, you are already halfway into the race! And then standing and waiting in row 65 you realize: ”I should have bought a bike with a darn kickstand.
After 13 kicks my bike decided to start (man, was I relieved) and off I went only to face what all the novices had feared: ”the MX special stage”. I was a little confused thinking that an MX track is made out of ramps and soft sand. It should be simple… cruise over the ramps and make sure you have a little momentum through the sand. To my surprise I had never seen tires and tree stumps in the middle of a motocross track, so what was going on? Did they forget to remove them after the recent floods? Anyway, I remembered someone once said… “momentum is everything,” but unfortunately I forgot they also said ”keep your front wheel light.” After a roller coaster ride through the special, some guy by the name of Mike Glover became every novice’s best friend. Polite me still turned my head to say thank you when I hit those criss cross logs…Couldn’t they decide which way to lay them so covered themselves by doing both… and on top of each other. Exhausted after that and looking for the mouth piece of my camel pack I headed one handed down some unexpected drop into nowhere and barely holding on I made it out into the open thinking: only 32 km more to go! The Castrol Winterberg Enduro was on!
We had to do two B loops and I was “gunning it” on the first. Never fell once and overtook many riders (because they were having a smoke break). The riverbeds turned into a rock dodging affair for me with my MX suspension that might have looked something like a heart rate monitor on paper because of all the “zig zagging”. A “Flat Liner” would have been far more appropriate under those circumstances.
I entered main control full of confidence, but 10 minutes over regularity time. In my head, the race was on and I am halfway to achieving my goal-finishing in one piece (me and my stock standard 2006 yz).
My wife and mother-law jumped up with relief and the expression on their faces said it all… he’s still alive!!! No wonder she questioned me a few days before about our insurances.
One bite of chocolate and I was off. Full of confidence I completed the MX stage and shot off with the plan to better my first loop.
All of a sudden the trail changed. I was sure there was no mud here before. Mud has a way of spoiling your day. I got stuck for a few minutes and after freeing my bike, I shot off making sure I stayed on the tall grass. But with tall grass come tall anthills… you guessed it - there is a reason why you don’t go fast in tall grass. I paid the price… my bike decided to stay with the anthill, while my body preferred to go for a mud bath a few meters further. After getting going, I distinctly remember making a decision to take it easy and concentrate on finishing this race.
However, something I have never experienced before decided to reveal itself in a very bold and convincing manner… cramps!!!!! I am an active surfer and have always thought that this favored my arms in enduro riding and therefore never really experienced “arm pump”. Boy, was I wrong!!! Over the next 25 km I was in absolute “hell”. I dropped my bike twice, went over the handlebars twice, got stuck in more mud and even flipped my bike out of a riverbed into a tree!! I saw Alan Strydom get his bike hung up in a tree once before in a free ride and thought to myself… how do you get that right? Well now I know how!
For some reason I never saw anyone on my second loop. I helped one guy in the beginning who fell into a pit next to the trail and later Michael Swannepoel caught up to me. I then passed him again… and I did not to see a single soul until I reached main control again.
With 20km still to go and dealing with severe cramping and fatigue, the term “enduro” started to sink in. I was desperate to stumble upon a marshal for help. Yes I was giving up; I simply could not go further. Realizing that I was out there on my own with no escape routes (I would probably get lost if I went off route anyway), I though to myself: what would that “Bear” guy from “Ultimate Survivor” do? The answer came quickly: Stop! hunt down a grasshopper to munch and swallow it down with your sweat for some hydration. Needless to say I did not stop (no offence, Bear dude!). It was getting serious now, my vision was dazed and I was feeling nauseous thinking to myself; do I stop? Or vomit while riding? I only realized afterwards that I had my helmet on that I would have vomited into my own face with the result of possibly drowning in my own breakfast.
The Truth is I always pray for protection, wisdom and fun before getting on my bike and asked God to get me through this. My thoughts changed from “racing” to “finishing” mode and over the last 10-15 km I took it km by km. I knew from the first lap that there were 3 sections left (riverbed, open mountains and a tight finishing stretch). Barely hanging on to my bike with all the cramping I changed so many different riding positions through the final stretch that I must have looked like a giraffe drinking water - (have you ever seen that? Do yourself a favor and Google it- it’s awkward!)
Arriving at the pits, all I could get out was: “never again! never again!!!” A few minutes after resting, my inexperience kicked in again, my wife asked: “Shouldn’t you ride through that timing arch thingy to record that you are finish?” My response was: “You take my bike!” Anyway, I got up, went through and finished the race.
I feel very honored and satisfied that I finished the 37th Castrol Winterberg Enduro (with a 5th overall to my surprise) but not without a few lessons learnt.
It’s an Enduro: you need endurance, so train!
Get your gear in tact.
Prep your body with the right nutrition.
God comes in very helpful if you add him to your camel pack.
What drives you?
Roche Smit Aug 2012
I was confronted with this very question….What drives you?……When you wake up in the morning, what is the very thing you think about doing today or what makes you get up in the first place? Is it the passion to make money……the drive to help people?……..the hunger to get to know God?…….follow your dream?………or are you the stereotype that needs to do whatever it takes to get through the day, month or year without failing, falling, dying or losing whatever keeps you and perhaps your family afloat……………..Why float, if you can soar. SO TELL ME…….. WHO ARE YOU?
Adventure is out there!
Vicky Smit Aug 2012
Adventure is out there...but sometimes we have to get up...and go look for it!
We spend so much time feeling frustrated with the mundane things in life...I know i do.
Routine is good, but my goodness there are days where I feel so over routine, and I just wish something exciting can happen for a change. And then I look at my husband and he makes adventure happen...there is no sitting and waiting for anything to come to him, he just makes it happen! And he always get's back from his surf or bike ride...or whatever wild thing he did and he is buzzing! So yes, if I want I need to go out and get it. And sometimes it is something simple like going for a walk on the beach or taking my camera, getting in my car and searching for that ultimate shot! Yes adventure is out there!
It's in all of us!
vicky smit aug 2012
"It is in all of us to defy expectations, to go into the world and to
be brave, and to want, to need, to hunger for adventures, to embrace
change and chance and risk so that we may breathe and know what it is
to be free. " - an original quote by me, Mae Chevrette