by Michael Vlismas
Any mountain biker worth his or her locknut will tell you that balance is an essential component of riding. Apparently it’s also an essential component to staying in trees. Especially if you’re a baboon. And especially on a stormy night in the Tsitsikamma Village.
Last year, during the Glacier Storms River Traverse, an almighty storm rocked our little tented village. I was safely ensconced in my white linen duvet (more about this later), so I knew the shrieks I was hearing were not mine this time. The next morning I was told by one of the locals that the noise was made by the baboons falling out of the trees because of the strong winds.
That goes to prove that you never know what will happen in the tented camp, and that’s where we start a completely subjective top 5 list of things you have to do or experience if you are riding this weekend’s Glacier Storms River Traverse three-day stage race.
- The Luxury Tent
At least once in your cycling life you need to experience the luxury tent. I had my first taste of it at last year’s Glacier Storms River Traverse. I can assure you, this is not veldschool people. You sleep on a bed with cosy white linen and a fluffy duvet and with electricity. And the tent withstood everything Mother Nature threw at us that night the baboons fell out the trees. And she threw a lot at us. Believe me, somewhere there were animals walking two-by-two in anticipation of the flood. But not a single drop fell inside my tent.
- Stop at the waterpoints
In any other race, you are welcome to whiz past the water tables and chase your personal best. But not here. The Dryland water points are an experience all their own. Savour it. Chew on the magnificent ostrich fillet. Drink a craft beer. Snack on biltong and all manner of fabulous foods. And you can have your wingnut tightened, your chain lubed or your cleats cleaned by an expert team while you catch your breath.
Apart from the fact that your entry is supporting the Smile Foundation, you have loads of other reasons to smile at an event you don’t dare take too seriously. This is all about fun, and preferably with your whole family if you have one. This is the race where people stick birds’ feathers in their helmets and stop to take selfies.
- Have a drink in the Hunter’s Pub
Unlike the Tour de France, where all the action at the end of every stage is in the medical tent, The Hunter’s Pub at the Tsitsikamma Village Inn is where it gets seriously festive. Think of it as like the Wimpy in Secunda. It’s where you go to be seen and catch up on all the action and gossip from the day.
- Throw yourself off a bridge
The Bloukrans Bridge bungy is a very short drive from the Tsitsikamma Village. So, if seeing your best mate in a pair of tight-fitting lycra shorts first thing in the morning wasn’t enough of an adrenalin shock for you, then this will definitely do it.
And finally remember, this is the one stage race you will do all year where finishing last is actually a badge of honour because it means you had the most fun out there. Even the baboons will cheer to that.