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2011 Rhodes Extreme


Rhodes Extreme
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Hi Guys,

 

This past weekend saw a couple of us going down to Rhodes for the Rhodes Extreme (15km night ride Friday night, and an 85km monster along the southern Lesotho border). The race is famous for being the highest stage MTB race in SA (2,678m at its highest. That’s nearly 9000 feet, higher than most planes fly!). I had never heard of the Rhodes Village before, and when I got there, I found out why! The village has a population of 36, has about 20 buildings in it, has about 5 streets in total, and the main street is dirt! BUT, what a BEAUTIFUL part of the woods, and village! Fell in love with the place. I haven’t seen a more beautiful part of SA ever before!

 

The race was small this year (usually has about 150 entrants, but this year, due to 4 other major races on the same weekend (they are moving it next year), and the organiser experiencing a personal tragedy in his life, only had about 30 entrants), but (a testament to the quality of the event) many of the entrants were hard-core veterans, having done the race all 19 times since its inception. The night ride was promising to be a great experience, until Tony decided he had had enough, and threw himself over his handlebars whilst travelling downhill at about 25km/h! We suspected fractured collar-bone, and the race medic retired him to drinking beer on the couch (Man! I have never seen someone so grumpy before!! [Tony, not the medic…]).

 

The 85km race started in town on Saturday, and then headed straight up the mountains to Tiffendell ski resort. The “road” up included some concrete strips at a 33% gradient! (and that went on for kms!). At the top of the strips, I stopped at the first water point (just to check if my legs were still there, and to shove my lungs back in their cavity!). At that point, the lead group of 3 riders (which I think I managed to hang onto by clipping my camelback onto their saddlebags!) left a minute or two ahead of me (it’s hard work getting lungs back into cavities, and then cleaning up the mess…), and THAT WAS THE LAST TIME (UNTIL THE FINISH 5 HOURS LATER) THAT I SAW ANOTHER RIDER!! I slogged along the mountain tops for 50km, and came all the way back down Naude’s Nek (some of the best downhill dirt road riding I have ever done!) to the finish in Rhodes, completely alone! The terrain is very rugged and barren, which added to the whole “solitary” experience. The 3rd place rider was 4 minutes ahead of me (but I never saw him), and the 5th place rider 5min behind me (and closing, I think, but he never saw me).

 

In short, the race was amazing, and I will definitely do it again next year! The mountain biking is very “pure”, as there are just mountains, tracks, snow, rocks and trails, and zero hand-cut single-tracks or paths. It is extremely high, with views like you cannot believe. At one stage you actually ride along the Lesotho border fence, and at many stages you ride within a couple hundred metres of snow (which makes clothing selection a challenge!).

 

Tony’s independent race report below masks his frustration and irritation (we travelled a total of 22 hours to get there and back, and he only rode for 20min! And, this race is so important to him he has done it 9 times before!):

 

“Hi, Just an update about past weekend. Bruce and I took up the challenge to do the Rhodes extreme this past weekend. Weather fantastic. I only completed the first 20 min on Fri evening before I was laid low by a fall. Unfortunately that put me out of action for the weekend as well as for the next 2 weeks. No blood but a sore shoulder and ligament damage.

Bruce did not finish the night ride as he saw me into the village. The next morning dawned and yes, ‘Rocket Speed Machine’ Foulis was ready to tackle some remote high altitude riding. Nathan wanted to take over Dad’s position and was not happy when told he could not do the 85km ride with Bruce.

Field of 30 riders set off at 07h30.Bruce was up with the lead pack – okay only 3 riders- straight away. I next saw Bruce after 20 odd kms as he was about to turn onto some rugged jeep track. He was looking a little grey but the legs were turning!

5hrs 36min later Bruce rode in(theme tune For a Few Dollars more should have been playing in the background) in number 4 spot. Well done Bruce.

Although field was small a great atmosphere prevailed. I am already keen on next year – I need to do the ride this time. Hope we will have a greater ASG presence next year!

Please excuse me from the rides the next few weeks. Hope the fines committee will show some compassion! Cheers, Tony”

 

Sorry, Tony, the Fines Committee didn’t take the matter lightly when I explained your intentional handlebar excursion!

 

Words can’t describe the beauty of the course, so I put together a quick video (however, even the video doesn’t do it justice, I am afraid!). Check out: Video

 

Cheers!

Bruce

 

 

Dr Bruce Foulis | Director | ASG Performance Solutions

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Anyone concerned about the previous organisers "personal tragedy" Pete Dippenaar changed careers and was unavailable to do this years race! ... mind you that could be the tragedy I suppose :lol:

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  • 5 months later...
  • 2 months later...

yes 2012 event? i know that region very well, have friends that has a house there!! have gone up those hills ALOT of times, killer race probably but definitely worth it!! :clap: :clap:

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