Philies Chronicles – Sani to Sea 2015 Day 3, 14 May. Written by Philip Burring

11214074_10152801681516121_3616072809921113535_n[1]Philie and John at the finish in Scottburgh

And so it came to pass that Day 3 of the Sani2C flew by in a whizz, like two little Angry Swamp Birds on Red Bull and Vodka. Actually, I think we were on Vodka and Red Bull. My apologies for the late update but alas my phone got wet and ruined (but more of that later). The downside for you all is that typing on a PC means many more words. 
Twas yet another magnificent day in the KZN midlands as we soared through the canelands of the interior, down towards the stunning beauty of that hidden coastal gem, the Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve. A few steep climbs challenged the Birds but mostly, it was epic downhill racing and single-track through the lush, indigenous forests so green and dense it resembled a scene from Lords of the Rings (talking of which, we all were very impressed that Mottram survived the long 3 day ride with his … ailment. Give that man a Bells … and an adult nappy). The Angry Swamp Birds, John Ross and me, let it be said for the record, gave it horns and dominated the day again, much like the pounding Wildebeest, unashamedly doing the dirty, that we passed in the Reserve. I suspect that the soundly rodgered Team Roundhouse Snap, Milton John Osborn, and the Crossmans must have felt a bit like that lady Wildebeest as they sipped their afternoon beers last night. The gentleman in me prohibits me from wondering if that’s how Team Lactic Acid, Lee Macpherson and Robin Gowlding felt as well. After three days and 295km of hard riding, through some of the hilliest and most challenging terrain of our cycling lives, it was perhaps inevitable that one of us would have a mishap. And we did. 294.9km into the race. Or, to put it another way, 100 meters from the finish line. The floating bridge (all 600 meters of it) swayed and drifted across the Scottburgh Lagoon like a famished crocodile awaiting a little Angry Bird. It was, mostly, maneuvered with all the skill and style for which the Angry Swamp Birds have become renowned until Philthy stood up on his pedals to acknowledge the rapturous applause of the masses like the conquering heroes the Birds had become. On such a narrow unsteady surface it was to prove a fatal mistake as the sagging bridge steered my little birdy wings into the water. Elegant it was not. Done with no style at all. Executed with all the finesse of a Game of Thrones slaughter. And beheaded I nearly was as first I face-planted onto the bridge, followed by my elbow and then my shoulder, before plomping into the murky depths of the lagoon still attached to my drowning mount. Painful it was. Blood flowed. Embarrassing, most definitely. It was an ignoble way for this Bird to end his race, resembling in that short space of time, less the soaring Fish Eagle of yesterday, but more the regurgitated carcass of the croc’s last meal. It also means no photos from today’s stage as the phone was ruined. But the video was kindly supplied to me so here it is for your benefit and enjoyment … and my eternal humiliation.
Finish we did, though. As soon as I had rescued and remounted my steed and chased after my loyal and caring team mate, John, by now far in the distance, determined as he was to uphold the Fish Eagle image of the Birds that so many of you have ingrained in your minds. We crossed the line together, hands held high in the victory salute so deserved of our efforts. A total team time of 16 hours 31 minutes, with which we’re very chuffed being our first stage race and considering that 3 months ago, I didn’t have a mountain bike and John didn’t have any talent. A remarkable performance by John, it must be said, whose sporting achievements thus far in his adult life have been limited to motorbikes, bikram yoga and pie-eating. I wouldn’t normally tell you the times of the other teams, not being much of a bragger as you know, but since you’ve all asked: Roundhouse Snap staggered into 2nd place in 18h12 (yip, that’s 1h41 later, one hour and forty-one minutes slower, or, to put it another way, almost 2 hours behind. You could also say 101 minutes behind but I think 1 hour and 41 minutes sounds more …. official). Anyway, the Crossmans were next in 18h51 (comprehensively but graciously dethroned from their 2014 victory), and then the amazing team of ladies, well the two tarts, Lee and Robin, of Lactic Acid in about 20h05. Solid performances by all and sundry and congrats to us all, I say (it’s easy to be magnanimous when you’re the winner). John and I absolutely loved the event. All we need do now is convince Doug to let John take 18 days off for Joburg2C and the Cape Epic next year and for me to win the lottery to afford the entry fees.
If any of you are even toying with the idea of doing this race, don’t be a Rolf Harris …. stop fiddling! Get to the start line, for this truly is the most remarkable event, with superb organisation, great food and booze, excellent camping and ablutions and truly, the most beautiful scenery in the entire damn world. And it really is do-able … even on a training regime of yoga and pies.

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