Steve Pike

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

THE hyp­notic sound of breath­ing and a beat­ing heart sent us on our way.

Com­men­ta­tors at the FNB Wines2Whales Ad­ven­ture last week had cheek­ily in­cluded the sound­track as our group as­sem­bled at Lourens­ford.

For­mer Olympian MTB rider Erica Greene and Su­per­Sport pre­sen­ter Ger­ald de Kock chuck­led and teased as we lum­bered over the start­ing line, part of 1 200 rid­ers tak­ing part in this mini-epic.

Tor­ren­tial rain was to make the 76km course seem like dou­ble the dis­tance through end­less waste­lands of sludge.

I never knew you could get so many vari­a­tions of mud.

In the moun­tains be­tween Som­er­set West and Grabouw, the typ­i­cal vari­ant comes from white sandy tracks through the fyn­bos. As rat­ings go, this is mild mud. It is mel­low mud.

The pud­dles barely turn any colour. They are of­ten seethrough or off-grey. The sand stays com­pact, although it sinks with your wheels, creat­ing a wet fric­tion that makes you ped­dle a lit­tle harder.

Along some slopes and jeep tracks, there is red mud. This mud makes pud­dles or­ange and opaque, dis­guis­ing bone-jar­ring pot­holes. This mud is loose and gritty. It flies off your wheels like pel­lets from a shot­gun. This mud pul­verises your brake pads be­fore your eyes and sprays you from head to foot. But you can ride this kind of mud be­cause your tyres grip the firm ground be­neath.

Then there is nor­mal brown mud. This is mud with the con­sis­tency of well, mud. This is the kind of mud you may have played in as a kid. This mud makes pud­dles look like dark cof­fee. This kind of mud smacks you in chunks as it flies off your wheels, splat­ter­ing your clothes in lumps and sting­ing your face. It’s thicker than the other muds, and quite slip­pery, re­quir­ing plenty of stoic ped­dling to keep mo­men­tum.

But the most evil mud – the worst kind of mud in the world – has to be that black for­est mud that has the con­sis­tency of clay and the chem­i­cal makeup of half-set trea­cle. This stuff has been mixed with as much or­ganic mulch as that evil lit­tle for­est goblin could muster in the dead of rain-swept night.

This mud clogs ev­ery work­ing part, hu­man or me­chan­i­cal. This mud con­spires to hit you square on the eye­ball, mag­i­cally sidestep­ping your sun­glasses.

Black mud is the smoothest and most slip­pery of all the muds. Black mud wedges in ev­ery pos­si­ble cav­ity it can find, turn­ing your knobby moun­tain bike tyres into slicks. You are more likely to win the lot­tery than con­trol your bike at speed through the black mud bogs found in for­est don­gas.

When you ap­proach this type of bog, you have to un­cleat one foot to tem­per the yaw and sideslip down a sloshy mud slide. Hit it too fast and you’re wal­low­ing like a warthog at the bot­tom.

Once you get back on your bike to get out the other side – no mo­men­tum here to take you right through – you have zero trac­tion. Your legs spin like a car­toon char­ac­ter. You ped­dle

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.