Last weekend was the 3 Reserves Classic – the final event in the Swazi mountain biking calendar, and a great way to end it all with the track that makes its way through three game reserves: Hlane, Mlawula and Mbuluzi. After the success at Nkonyeni, and with my cycling friends saying the route was flat and not very technical, delusion got the better of me and I signed up for the longest route – 73km. This was before I had spent 5 days in Johannesburg eating my weight in seafood, cheese and desserts. So, when it came time to start the race, I put all my faith in my new Inyatsi cycling jersey that my friend Vitor had managed to sneak to me. (The jersey is for Inyatsi workers and family members only, although Vitor did jokingly(?) suggest I become his second wife).
I’m not sure if the jersey helped or not but, five hours later, I came last. Or as I like to see it, I came fourth. Yes, it seems there were only four women stupid / hard core enough to take on the long route, and I was one of them. The winner was a young girl from South Africa who has won it the last three years, so I don’t feel too disappointed. Plus, I managed to beat a handful of men – we’ll just ignore the fact that most of them fell behind due to punctures. I had also managed to do it on a single chocolate bar, as all the food tables were cleaned out and almost packed up by the time I got to them.
Despite the placing, the race itself was as people suggested: flat. Yet, with the recent two weeks of rainfall, it was also extremely green, picturesque…..and muddy. Cycling /sloshing through water crossings and temporary marshlands had a rather cooling effect on the 30+ degree day, fortunately, and by the end of it, my skin almost blended in with the Africans’.
I cleaned myself up with just enough brain power left to get myself to a welcoming dinner for our new Australian Volunteers: Myles, Tegan, Bill and John. Just like that, our Australian contingent has tripled and I have some new potential yoga buddies. Only time will tell how willing they’ll be to get roped into my other shenanigans, but in the meantime, I’m happy to take advantage of their offer for Sunday drinks around their pool.
It seems my celebrity status continues to grow in Swaziland, as during the week I was surprised to have a friend comment on my picture in the national paper. To my shock, there I was, being described as the “Visionary: Jenny Thorne”. Jenny is, of course, the founder of Gone Rural n who, sadly, passed away a couple of years ago. As much as I’d love to take the credit for being a visionary, it is clear the Swazi journalist in charge did a slap dash research job when searching for images of Gone Rural and Jenny on the web. My blog is obviously a hit, though, so to the journalist who found it: enjoy the read!