Written by a frankly frightened Seamus Allardice, just 5 days before trying to ride 100 Miles.
I have ridden exactly 131,81 kilometres this month. My last ride was on the 7th of September. My first on the 6th. I should really saw I’ve ridden 30 kilometres less in total this month than I’ll be riding in one shot on Saturday, 28 September. But, hey, how tough can the Maloti 100 Miler really be?
Probably, very. It starts in Barkley East and traverses the Naude’s Nek pass to Maclear. The route takes in a whopping 2 966 metres of climbing and tops out at an altitude of 2 590 metres above sea level. That, in case you were wondering, is at least 200 metres higher than I’ve ever done any kind of exercise. And to be honest I don’t count riding a long travel eBike downhill after catching a gondola to the top of the mountain in Switzerland as strenuous exercise. Grinding my way to the top of the third highest pass in South Africa will be a different story.
Why inflict what I am sure is going to be painful on myself? Well why not. It’ll be fun in hindsight I’m sure. And I’ve been worse prepared for other challenges before. Plus, if I don’t do it now, I have to wait an entire year for the change to ride what sounds like an amazing race. It is after all one of the founding events of the 100 Miler Series.
I want to be an early adopter on this one. Something tells me it has the makings of a South African legend. Beautiful location, check. Crazy ultra-endurance, tick. Friendly locals, obviously. Guaranteed Type B Fun, you bet. What’s not to love? It’s going to be an adventure and now I’ve committed I’m all-in, whether I’ve done any training or not.
At least I’m well rested…
The Bike: Canyon Grail
Thanks to Erik Kleinhans and Canyon South Africa I won’t be able to blame the bike for any poor performances at the Maloti 100 Miler. The German brand’s local marketing manager has graciously allowed me the use of one of his demo fleet for the race. For those of you who haven’t taken note of the Grail yet, it’s Canyon’s pretty revolutionary take on the perfect bike for crushing 100-mile gravel races.
I’ll admit I’m a traditionalist when it comes to a bike’s aesthetics. So, the Grail’s hover bar is a bit of a mind bender for me. But when you are going to be riding 160 kilometres on gravel road function trumps form. The theory behind the hover bar is that is allows for a riding position, when your hands are on the tops, which reduces road buzz and thus limits fatigue caused by those vibrations. Similarly, the seatpost features a split which also absorbs vibrations travelling up though the frame.
I’ll have a pretty good idea of how effective both of those are come Sunday the 29th of September. What I am excited by and know I’ll love is the compact gearing provided by Shimano’s 2×11 Di2 (the more gears the merrier for Naude’s Nek I say), the chain retention provided by the gravel specific clutch rear derailleur and the grip guaranteed by Schwalbe G-One Bite, 40mm wide, tyres.
In the meantime, you can watch this if you’d like to know more about the Canyon Grail…