2000 Meters Is Just A Number
Unless You’re On A Bike
The monthly Gran Fondo (long group ride) for East Coast Cycling Club in April was a doozy.
There were two groups following the same route. The more ambitious group went 20 kilometres longer and added an additional 600 meters of climbing to an already hectic track.
The totals were hefty.
- Long ride: 130 kilometres, 2600 meters climbing.
- Less long ride: 110 kilometres, 2000 meters climbing.
Originally the plan allowed for two follow cars, one for each batch (A and B) but the A batch had a puncture in the first 15 or so kilometres and the B’s carried on, making it senseless to keep both cars in tow.
The A’s did catch the B’s and the group spread out quite a bit but the follow car managed to keep an eye on the riders.
I only got to the 46 kilometre mark before turning back. The climb was just too much and it isn’t over when you turn. From Verulam to Gateway the road travels only up. On tired legs, it’s a killer.
The one drawback – other than climbing – was the sand. It’s rural and a light sprinkling of rain made sand stick to everything. Fortunately, my bike was due for a new chain and cassette so it wasn’t a problem but I think everyone booked a service immediately after.
Following is the route profile and directions.
- Starting at Suncoast, the group followed the regular route north to La Lucia Mall. From there the course takes the riders up Armstrong to the top of Umhlanga Ridge and onto the M41 to cross over the N2 highway.
- All groups then take the first left (Mount Edgecombe CC turn-off) for the first checkpoint at the Spar and to receive a safety briefing for the second segment of the route.
- Segment 2 continues along the M41 to Verulam. After Verulam, a long straight downhill takes us to the Umdloti River. Just over the river (and before you reach the old concrete train bridge), we turn immediately left onto Vincent Dickenson Rd. This is the turn-off to Hazelmere dam, and the start of segment 3 of the route.
- Segment 3 is the long climb to the top at Ndwedwe (topping out at 660m above sea level). Once through the small town of Ndwedwe, we drop down to the 110km turnaround point and a drinks break while we take in the magnificent views of the Umdloti river valley and Noodsberg mountain range beyond.
- Those who want to go the full distance (130km) continue with segment 4, which is the thrilling drop down to the valley below and the final turnaround mark on the bridge at the Umdloti river.
Because it’s rural Africa, it isn’t unusual for houses to front on the road and pedestrians to call out or keep pace as you ride by. Very social and the scenery is nice, although I doubt anyone was paying attention.
If you’re thinking about getting fit, check out the ECCC website for member details. You won’t find a friendlier more accommodating group.