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How to do the PE to Plett group ride properly

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Manage the pace is key to keeping the group stable and together (Photo: @GrandGroupMedia)
Manage the pace is key to keeping the group stable and together (Photo: @GrandGroupMedia)

The trip was born out of frustration. Frustration that events we were training for kept getting cancelled as the country continues battling the COVID-19 pandemic. So, we renewed our minds.

"Why don’t we ride to Plettenburg Bay," Madoda asked? The idea was born. A 220km ride from Port Elizabeth to Plett. 

A few of us have a Facebook Messenger group where every week we discuss who is faster than whom. Feelers were put out on the group to choose a date for the ride and things quickly became serious. 

We needed more riders, ones who were stronger than us. This was strategic. The predominant wind in this area is the Westerly which would mean we have a head wind all the way to Plett. We had to bring in reinforcements, just in case. 

It wasn’t hard to convince more friends to join in as guys are hungry for the outdoors after a year of lockdown regulations. 

One of the riders is a sponsored athlete and was already committed to another event up country but was praying for her event to be cancelled. She knew this ride was one not to be missed. 

The week before our chosen date, the group did a training ride and sat down for coffee afterwards to discuss final logistics. While doing that, we analyzed the Strava files of another group who’d just done the same ride the day before. A Westerly wind and rain meant it took them more than 10 hours.

We started getting nervous but luckily for us, a week out from the ride, the forecast showed a tailwind. Needless to say, we checked every day and cheered louder each day as the forecast stayed the same. 

The day was finally here and 5am was the set departure time. We had 15 cyclists and 3 following vehicles. As we set off, you could feel a nervousness in the bunch. For some of us, we’ve done IRONMAN’s, Transbaviaans, Double Century, the Munga - but for others, the furthest they’ve ridden was 150km.  

As we descended Van Staadens pass and started to climb out on the other side, trouble started. Luvuyo punctured and struggled fixing the valve. Then shortly thereafter, Birdie snapped his rear derailleur.

Is this the start of one of “those” rides we wondered out loud? Determined not to miss out on the adventure, Birdie hopped in one of the support vehicles and raced the 50km back to PE to fetch his mountain bike while we carried on. (Side note: Birdie is a former professional golfer but his nickname has nothing to do with golf. The things you learn on long rides).

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