100 Miles of Nowhere Race Report – African Edition

06.20.2013 | 3:01 pm

A Note from Fatty: Want more reports? Steve B wrote a good one over at his blog. Check it out

by Raymond D

I am reasonably fit – I have just finished a 9 day 600 mile stage race so my legs were ready, but 100 miles was still intimidating as the longest ride I had ever done was 80 miles!

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I had decided to do 10 laps of 10 miles in a park in central Johannesburg, the biggest city in South Africa. The amazing thing for us mtb riders in Johannesburg, is that there is a protected green belt in the city which allows you to do rides of up to 50 miles, crossing only a few streets. This is right in the heart of suburbia and sandwiched between major commercial districts. Not for nothing is Johannesburg known as the “city in a forest” – the city has the distinction of coming up on satellite vegetation maps as one of the largest man made forests in the world. The route is a great blend of single track and jeep track, and has around 600ft of climbing in the loop.

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The day started at 7:00 when I met a mate of mine who had agreed to do the first lap with me on his single speed, this turned into a lap and a half with a bit of a detour of the normal route because he wanted to show me where someone had built around 2 miles of new single track. This thing happens out here fairly often – riders figure out a way to add something new in and tend to go off and built it themselves. Its a bit of a frontier mentality. I decided that if he could do it on a single speed, I would join him for a lap without changing gears either – probably not the thing you should do at the start of a 100 miles, but it seemed a good idea at the time. I regretted it in the last lap.

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The ride took me just under 10 1/2 hours to complete, and I finished riding at 6:30pm. Some of the highlights for me were:

1) Just chilling on a route that we normally race around; trying to look around and enjoy things with new eyes each lap. Its amazing how much actually changes during the day – if you were looking out for it. Seeing horses, parrots and bird life, people walking dogs, kids flying kites. Watching the colors / temperature / amount of people in the park change with each lap.

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2) Having my mate Vernon not pitch for the laps he was going to join me for (given that I had told him on the day we registered this was a bit poor) – but having him donate 1/2 my entry fee to a local charity who raises money for kids oncology.

3) Some light banter from my friends – one who wanted to have me skip the ride to go kite surfing and offered to pay the entry fee if I would skip it, and one who thought this was a bit crappy and offered to pay the entry fee if I finished. Needless to say I took the finish and get the donation option, not the skip it one – and raised another 1 1/2 times the entry fee for CHOC, childrens oncology.

4) All the guys who followed me on facebook and sent encouragement during the day.

5) Super stoked when my family brought me a burger for lunch and I got to see my three kids – at ages 1/3/5 they were pretty excited about the whole thing.

6) Finishing in the dark – I had never done the route at night before. Next time i will take a light or start earlier. Awesome to ride it anyway!

7) Meeting a TV bike show celeb half way through the ride, he was using his new cyclo-cross bike and joined me for a lap. When I told him about the whole thing, he was really impressed and will be doing what he can to get some more support for the event in South Africa next year. His whole ethos revolves around bike life, and it was really great to chat about how you could go out and do some totally different things on a bike – he is always off adventuring around the country, so really interesting guy to chat too. A real highlight for me to take a photo of him on the loop.

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8) Finishing, and knowing that I had done something bigger than myself, and had helped a good cause in my own small way. 100 MON will be a really great memory for years to come for me and I am looking forward to getting my t-shirt in the mail – I will be framing it and smiling each time I look at it.

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  1. Comment by Daniel Weise | 06.20.2013 | 3:30 pm

    Good Job and great write-up. Love the views! I can’t believe this in the city!

  2. Comment by Corrine | 06.20.2013 | 3:46 pm

    Great report from South Africa. What a cool place to ride. And Steve B. loved your report also. I think it would have been hard to keep going when your house was right there. We had to keep going on our ride or we would be stuck out in the wilderness in the snow with bears and moose and wolves with nobody to come pick us up! @davidh-marin,ca our elevation gain was 8730 feet. Our ride was just a warm up to the Sluice Box 100 – https://sites.google.com/site/sluicebox100/home – a totally crazy 100 mile mtn bike ride/race which is just a warm up for us to do Leadville in August. If you missed my report go to comments under the Noodleator’s report to find the link.

  3. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 06.20.2013 | 3:56 pm

    You guys that do this on mountain bikes certainly have earned my respect; trainer, cold wilderness, city. Pretty impressive!

  4. Comment by SteveB | 06.20.2013 | 3:57 pm

    This is wonderful. I’m just amazed and inspired by all the different rides people have done. Also, I’m thinking if you’ve done 600 miles in 9 days, doing a century is just not that much of a stretch – but I have to admit to having similar concerns.

  5. Comment by SR | 06.20.2013 | 6:20 pm

    Wow- so much to learn about the world. Thanks for sharing your story- enjoyed it much.

  6. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.20.2013 | 8:04 pm

    @Mark in Bremerton

    We’re waiting on your tandem report? Is your wife still talking to you? Your effort has respect…at least you’re still around to write about it.

  7. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.20.2013 | 8:55 pm

    @Raymond D You’ve set a high bar for next year! Kids in the bike trailer. TV Time. Maybe a Lion or Elephant segment. what! no lions or elephants in town? what has Africa come to?

    Took me a moment to realize finishing in the dark. So. Hemisphere=winter in June. Duh!

  8. Comment by Tom in Albany | 06.21.2013 | 5:44 am

    Excellent ride and report. If I find myself at our Alberton facility again for work, I may have to find this mtn bike park and look for a mtn bike rental!

  9. Comment by Jenni | 06.21.2013 | 7:02 am

    Absolutely FABULOUS!!

  10. Comment by Heidi | 06.21.2013 | 9:49 am

    Way to go, Raymond D!


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