Jolivet to Scottburgh
A fast and furious 73km spin to the coast marks the final day of the joBerg2C. It’s a welcome relief after the imposing distances of each of the previous eight days. But it’s still not quite the “downhill jaunt to the coast” the race village banter would have you believe. An opening section of jeep track, some beautiful singletrack and acres of cane fields hide a few steep climbs.
Still, Andy I weren’t about to start taking the race seriously on its last day. So we donned our board shorts over our lycra in preparation for our trip to the beach. It’s a miracle we found anything in our kit bags. After nine days on the run our morning routine had started to disintegrate.
I’d already started to let my personal hygiene slide. Brushing our teeth meant finding a toothbrush. Needle in a haystack. My day-old riding kit lay bundled up with my clean t-shirts. Chocolate and nougat bars from each host town’s goodie bag were hidden in my toiletries. A disturbing amount of Andrew’s kit had found its way into my bag. Matching socks were a luxury. Nine days living out of a large canvas bag takes its toll. Both of us were desperately keen to get to the finish line. Not that we wanted the Old Mutual joBerg2C to end. It just meant a fresh finisher’s t-shirt… something vaguely respectable to wear on the flight home that night.
We snapped a quick photo in front of the start line. It was the last time we’d be this close to the frontrunners as we were keen to mix it up mid-pack today with the mates we’d met on our way from Jozi. And then we were off. Andy and I lost contact early on but regrouped through the sugar cane fields and cruised with Oli Munnik.
As the end of our journey neared and we could smell the sea salt in the air the pace picked up. Before we knew it we were pedaling over the white sand of Scottburgh beach on palettes, over a scaffolding bridge and onto the grass embankment. High fives under the inflatable Old Mutual banner. Wappo, Farmer Glen and Gary Green were all there to welcome us home and drape a finishers medal over our shoulders (and hand us that crucial finisher’s t-shirt).
We bolted to the surf as soon as we’d crossed the line and watched riders heading for the finish from the Indian Ocean. Soaking in the welcoming warm water and catching a few waves was a far cry from the tough terrain we’d battled over the past nine days. The rolling farmlands and a dip in the sea are a fitting end to the race. They offer a chance to reflect on the monumental migration we’d been a part of.
It was hard to believe only nine days had passed. Heidelberg, and the race start at Karan Beef, felt like a lifetime ago. In the process of traversing this magical route, the joBerg2C had left us profoundly connected to the South African landscape, and intimately allied to our countrymen and women. Through its philanthropic conviction the joBerg2C circus alters the lives and livelihoods of all involved – from organisers, to riders, to sponsors, to local communities. It leaves a fuzzy feeling.
And yet Wappo, Glen and Gary have got the balance just right. The joBerg2C is not a charity event. And it hasn’t sold-out to sponsors. It offers great value in these areas. But it’s reflected in their eyes as they shake your hand, share a joke and hang a finishing medal over your head. You are the reason they organise this crazy race. And the route is king.
What a ride.