March 20, 2012
I didn’t do much preparation for South Africa. Josh, my partner, had been training for the Absa Cape Epic for almost six months and watching how much work went into that, I figured that was enough preparation for both of us.
I feel like I must state a somewhat obvious: A common mis-conception is that when you say, “I’m going to South Africa!” people assume you mean the wild safari of the African continent. South Africa has wild safari areas but Western Cape and the areas we were in were definitely colonial Dutch, very settled and developed. Cape Town is a modern metropolis and the surrounding suburbs are gorgeous with gated communities and multi-million dollar homes along the coast.
Don’t get me wrong, there are dangerous areas, poor areas, wild safari areas – we just weren’t really in them.
It was a non-negotiable topic that we would both bring our bikes – mine, a steel stallion singlespeed Bronto and Josh, a fancy full suspension Anthem 29er. We needed to pack light so, beyond our bikes, I brought an Arcteryx pack with about six days worth of clothes, all the media gear I could shove in, and toiletries – all for a two week long trip where I had no clue what the conditions would be or where we would really be staying.
We departed a wet and dreary New York City for sunny and warm South Africa. The flight was a long 14 hours to Johannesburg where we then had to switch over to a new airplane for the final leg of our trip to Cape Town.
Dodging the red-shirted “assistants” who were hoping for crazy amounts of cash to walk you to your next gate (don’t do it!!), we made it to our connector and found ourselves planted in Cape Town, South Africa. We shook out our legs and grabbed our bags to head through customs. We met up with Jackie, Josh’s race partner and went through the challenge of fitting all of our gear into a modest-sized SUV.
We could have gone all out and rented the larger truck…it would have been double the price. We made this little guy work. With very little space, we head out to Stellenbosch (about 30km from Cape Town) for some pre-race riding and relaxation.
Arrival in Stellenbosch was exciting. I had no idea how beautiful this town was. We settled into the Bonne Esperance and immediately started building bikes.
Settling into South Africa up until this point has been incredibly EASY.