Taking On the JoBerg2C
By: Jessi Stensland, professional endurance athlete
JoBerg2C is an epic 9 day 900 kilometer (550 miles) mountain bike event in South Africa. Sounds like a lot, and it is, but South Africans are the pros at making these off-road events full of fun, camaraderie, good food and spot on organization to ease the long days in the saddle.
When I got the opportunity to participate in this event I grabbed it! I had spent quite a bit of time over there, but never further east than Johannesburg and this race takes you from JoBerg to Scottsburgh on the east coast by Durban through four provinces. Having heard that there is quite different terrain and vibe on that side, I was curious, and what better way to experience it than on a bike! I had been living in Costa Rica working for Pura Vida Ride, commuting four kilometers to and from work each day over two short but very steep climbs as well as mountain bike guiding on the trails at Las Catalinas - so I was pretty fit and strong, though my efforts were short. I was somewhat prepared, but still wondering if or when my style of preparation would lack what I needed to maintain composure along that route.
Speaking of preparation, as we were dialing in our gear, reading race information and updates, we found out that as of last year they have been using GPS for the race route, no longer flagging, spray painting or otherwise physically marking the route. A GPS unit was required they said. While it sounded like a great idea, neither my teammate nor I owned one. I've been living quite minimally for the past few years since racing triathlons full time, and haven't owned a GPS unit or PowerTap for quite a while. As PowerTap's new Joule GPS+ cycling computer had just been released, we were given the chance to utilize its navigational powers in the race. Whew!! As we would be blogging daily for DoItNow Magazine in South Africa, it wouldn't have been ideal if we got lost on a farm somewhere in the Free State midway through ... and the stages were long enough (5-7 hours for us) I certainly didn't want any wrong twists and turns to delay my arrival to the wonderful, relaxing finish villages each day.
At the race briefing the night before the start of the event we caught up with the helpful local PowerTap rep who uploaded the race route to our unit. With Joule in hand I was feeling much more confident in our ability to reach the finish line though the question about my body and mind still did linger…nothing I'm not used to…pushing limits, taking risks ... bring it on!
In the end, questions were answered. I was prepared for the sections with steep climbs, singletracks and the technical descents. It was the longer sections of farm road pedaling that lacked any of the afore mentioned elements that I was not mentally prepared for, and lacked a bit of gumption and purpose and therefore speed. Stage 6 was my biggest hurdle, but luckily stage 7 and 8 were huge highlights and got me back in my groove. Stage 8 being my favorite day of all. The aid stations and finish villages in the farmlands along the way put spirit back in the body every time ... very good times!
And without further ado, our own day-by-day account of this incredibly unique, world class, memorable event can be found here.
Jessi Stensland is a New Jersey native who has lived all over the world. After finishing a successful NCAA Division I swimming career, she entered the professional endurance athlete circuit in 2000. She started MovementU in 2009 and has been teaching movement-based training strategies ever sense. You can follow her @JessiStensland or stay up with her on her website.