There is really only on road cycling race in Durban during the winter – the Toti 69er. the race is from Amanzimtoti to Park Rynie and back along some of the most scenic coast line KZN has to offer.
The race was on the list of races to complete in 2012 for “Team Laister” on the tandem. We had trained quite diligently for the Tour Durban and had planned to carry that momentum into the 69er and have a good ride. Well, that did not happen according to plan! Very little training was done which is not the ideal training for a race that starts very cold and is very hilly and quite technical.
Race morning started quite late relative to most race mornings at 7am so I was up at 5am. I started by getting the bike ready – tires pumped up etc. This ended up being a nightmare. After taking the front tire to get a spoke fixed – the tire was not set back in the rim correctly so at 7,5 bars of pressure – BOOM! It certainly woke me up completely and my wife too. Our 8 month old girl, slept through the noise!
Having got everything needed for baby and bike and the support club – toti was the next stop. The is well known to us and not much more than 30 minutes drive. Again, the nightmare returned when I saw the bike come off the rack on one side! I slammed on anchors and pulled over. Surely this is race over due to broken bike? Thankfully, nothing was broken and after strapping the bike securely on the rack again, we were back on the road to toti.
We arrived as the race was starting. While we were trying to rush to get to the start, we discovered the front tyre was flat! That freaked me out! We managed to sort it out but now only had one spare left.
By this time we had the reality of how hard the wind was howling. The route is a exact out and back along the same stretch of the old coastal road. The wind would be a head wind there and tail wind on the return trip. The better combo if you ask me!
We started late but soon started over taking people. I have ridden the route many times so knew how to ride it a little harder. We had to take it easy because 1. We had a softer front tire and 2. Of the severe lack of training. The wind was howling and at time it was difficult to keep the big tandem upright. As per usual, we picked up a couple of riders that tucked into the draft of our tandem. I have come top accept this on rides and find it quite encouraging.
I often say, there is always one! This race proved it! One rider decided to tucked behind us and stayed there for about 40km. Normally, they come up and chat and help out a bit and then fall back. This idiot did nothing. Even to the point of slowing down when we were going 7,5km/h to make sure he stayed behind us. Cycling does not need idiots like this (in my opinion).
At the start we started in 105th place and by the turn around at half way we were 69th. The way back was harder than expected but did have the wind at our backs. All was going well when the dreaded sound came and broke the morning air. Ssssssssssssss! A puncture! In the middle of nowhere with no space to change it but road. Off we got and started to go about changing the back tyre. After getting my hands completely covered in black stuff while changing the tyre – we were in the saddle again. We started to struggle towards the end especially the last 2 big climbs. We made it to the top of the last climb with a long downhill to the finish and really enjoyed it knowing it was over. We had to be careful rounding the last corner on 2 fairly soft tyres though but no more pedalling was done apart from to the line about 500 metres from the bottom of the hill.
It was a long day in the saddle but a good one. Well done to toti cycling club (again) for a very well organised race. I really enjoy races organised by cyclists because they just know what is really needed. This race is still fairly new on the calendar but is very well organized and in my opinion – the best organised race I have ever cycled. Cyclists should organize cycling races (or at least people in the cycling community) not management or event companies.