Being from KZN and having spent much time in both Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the AmaShova cycle race is something that I've wanted to do for a very long time. As luck would it have it, this year I happened to be in Durban the weekend of the race - this was pure chance as I working in Durban on the Monday. However, I'd only realised the race was that weekend after I had left Cape Town - so I was really unprepared - no training, cycling gear, helmet... oh and no bicycle!!!!!

5 days to go...
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology and social networking, on the Tuesday before the race I put out a message on the SiyaShova fb page that I was looking for a bicycle to do the race, and by the afternoon had an offer of a bicycle to use! A friend of mine from Verulam called me up and immediately offered me use of his brand spanking new Mongoose mountain bike. Bike sorted

3 days to go...
From JHB, work then moved onto Bloemfontein. On the Thursday after a very long day of work, I went for run around the capital of the Free State. A really pleasant little town. This was to be the only physical exercise I got in before race day. After 50min of running I felt fine so I decided that cycling 106kms should be ok. Physical fitness - check.

2 days to go...
I arrived in Durban on the Friday night flight from Bloemfontein. At my parents place I was happy to find that a bicycle helmet purchased 15 years ago still fit my head. Helmet - check.

1 day to go...
Registration for the race took place at the new Moses Mahbida Stadium - this surely has to be the most spectacular of all the world cup stadiums. On a cloudy Saturday afternoon I took a drive to the stadium to register myself. Now it must be said that having registration at a venue surrounded by closed off roads (there was rugby and soccer on that afternoon!!!!) isn't the brightest idea!!!!!!! After much battling with closed roads, rain, clueless guards, and the ever so wonderful police... I finally made it into the Stadium parking lot to register. Not much to write about registration - it cost R320 and the registration pack included a grocery bag with an envelope containing my race number - they really outdid themselves on this one. Anyway, after getting my race number I proceeded to visit the friend who's bike I was to borrow - got the bike - and went home. In between supper I managed a 2 min ride at night under pouring rain. Bike - check. Bike test - check.

Race day!!!
Whoop whoop. It was here! An early start was required as Verulam (the town my parents live in) is roughly an hour's drive from Pietermaritzburg. My old man gave me a lift. It was cool being back in PMB for this race. Before moving to Cape Town I lived in PMB for 3 years - first as a student in my final year at varsity then for two years where I worked there as an engineer.

Starting point outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall

After starting outside the PMB City Hall, it was kind of nostalgic cycling down the road I used to live on (Commercial Road), past the restaurant/take away that had shitty service, past the first place I ever rented (post varsity)... the race then continued South from PMB to Thornton (distant relations in these here parts too - one of my grandparents came from here)... into Camperdown, then along the road to Cato Ridge Airfield (where I learnt to skydive 5 years and 500 jumps ago)... along the valley of thousand hills... into Pinetown and then down into Durban. To cut a long story short the organisation was a bit of a balls up - metro police decided to stop the race earlier amidst great confusion by both cyclists and the volunteer marshals. A pity as its a really nice ride, very scenic, but unless the organisers start doing their job - I'm afraid I won’t be doing anymore AmaShova's in the near future.

Picture taken from the website - haven't ordered my copies yet

Still, it was a nice day. I ended up cycling around 65kms I think, which included some good climbs, and all this without having cycled no more than 12kms (home to work one way) at a time this year. It’s always fun cycling with others. I enjoyed high-fiving the kids who came out to support and was especially impressed by the school for the disabled near Inchanga, whose pupils sat in wheel cheers along the road cheering the cyclists - thanks guys!

AmaShova Cycle Race - check. (well partially checked...)

Stay safe!