Wine2Whales: Soviet Succeeds

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Participating in the Wine2Whales Mountain Bike race doesn't just require physical strength; it is also a mental challenge as you take on the hills and vineyards of the Cape Province. With an arsenal of fitness training, trip planning and riding strategies, our six heroes from Soviet took on the 3-day race on 6 November 2015 in a bid to inspire and motivate. We take a look at the race through the eyes of Ashraf Kathrada: Day 1: Start: 07:00 - 08:30 Distance: 72 km Route: Lourensford Polo fields to Oak Valley Wine Estate Sport Field Elevation Gain: 1620 m The first day was tough, very tough. Especially for us rookie riders. We started with big climbs up the mountain near Lourensford, and headwinds making it even more challenging. We also hit a sandstorm, which limited our view of the trail. It is difficult to stay on course when you don’t know where the course is taking you…

After the sandstorm, we continued our climb, this time on Jeep tracks and private roads, making the trail a little easier on our tired bodies. But the most inspirational part was the cheering from neighbours, township kids and people from the various farms. It is amazing to see so many people come together to inspire and excite complete strangers, racing on bicycles. It is definitely a sign that South Africa has come a far way since our apartheid days. The compulsory portage took forever to conquer, and we had to do most of it with bike on hand, and feet on ground. The rocky single tracks after the portage brought a whole different type of challenge, and it claimed a lot of bikers with accidents and injuries.

As a “reward” for our determination, the last part of the trail was fast and flat, and we were honoured with a welcoming cheer, and much needed relief when we reached the race village in Oak Valley Wine Estate.
Day 2: Start: 07:00 - 08:30 Distance: 66.4 km Route: Oak Valley Wine Estate Sport Field Round Trip Elevation Gain: 1366 m While the first day tested our fitness and strategy, the second day tried our skills and techniques. With mostly single tracks throughout the 66.4 km, we had to keep our heads and focus as we faced tricky obstacles, cliff edges, bridges and switchbacks. 

The mix of taxing climbs and vicious downhills put a lot of strain on all of us, but with persistence and teamwork, we made it back to our camp at the Oak Valley Wine Estate Sport Field, with injuries and all. 

The team enjoyed a nourishing dinner and a good night’s rest as we got ready to face the final leg of our race. Just making it this far has made us proud and has given us a sort of “motivated energy”. We were all excited about the concluding leg of the race, more so knowing that our efforts would bring hope to the children of Alpha School. Day 3: Start: 07:00 - 08:30 Distance: 74.3 km Route: Oak Valley Wine Estate Sport Field to Onrust Caravan Park, Hermanus Elevation Gain: 1300 m We started the final day off slowly as my partner was nursing a torn tendon injury from the challenging route of the previous day. In order to avoid penalty, we kept the pace slow and steady at the back end of our group, so we would stay together.

However, the challenge did not stop there. To test my endurance even further, I was flung off the front-end of my handle bars, at the first Downhill challenge, when I made the mistake of taking my eyes off the road for a split second - it just shows how you should keep your eyes on the road ahead when facing your challenges. To make matters worse, I then got a punctured front tire, slowing us down even more. My partner was great in his support, and eventually we raced towards a heartening cheer from the crowds at the Onrust Caravan Park in Hermanus. 

All six of the Soviet riders pushed through to the end, and as we celebrated our victory with fist-pumps and smiles all-round, we realised how lucky we have been to complete this race. There are many people who aren’t able to put in the effort and resolve to complete a challenge such as this. And by putting our hearts into it, we have been able to bring some joy to some very deserving children.
Soviet would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all the contributions you have made, as well as your support and assistance towards our charity effort.

If you would like to contribute to our on-going efforts, please feel free to make a donation of any size to the Alpha School for Autistic Children in Woodstock. Please note that all funds collected will be handed over to the school after the event. 

Banking details below: 
 Alpha School for Autistic Kids 
First National Bank 
Account Number: 50130041010 
Branch Code: 201909