Barely a week had passed since I disembarked from my European flight before I took to the skies again. This time the journey didn’t include any international destinations, ‘only’ a local visit to the beautiful Eastern Cape for the 4th edition of the Isuzu Trucks PEPlett.
The event is run between Port Elizabeth and Plettenberg Bay, changing direction annually. This year the race started at Kurland Hotel outside of Plettenberg Bay and finished at Crossways Farm Village just west of Port Elizabeth. During the 4 day trek through the Tsitsikamma forests and along the Garden Route coastline we stopped over at the Tsitsikamma Falls Adventure Village, the Soloko Game Farm and finally at Zuurbron farm.
Last year I participated at the event for the first time and the heavy floods before and during the event proved to be the biggest challenge for both rider and event organiser. Despite the challenging weather conditions I enjoyed the event and was excited to be back this year alongside Anriëtte Schoeman as we set out to defend our overall title in the ladies category. I mean surely it can’t be a muddy affair two years in a row…
As it turns out, lightning can strike twice! During pre-race registration and briefing the weather turned from sunshine to grey skies, with drizzling rain spells throughout the duration of the event only to clear up again at the final prize giving on Sunday afternoon after the race. Really???
Racing in the rain and mud is hard enough for us riders, but I couldn’t help but feel extremely sorry for the event organisers, Red Cherry Adventures, who had to deal with the same challenges all over again.
Needless to say the rain turned the 310km course into a muddy affair which was unfortunate as we couldn’t enjoy the scenic route and hospitable race villages to the full. Had it not rained, the whole experience would have been completely different. Not that it was all that bad either – there was plenty of delicious food after each stage and some good company to share it with.
Weather changes the dynamic of a race completely and in wet or muddy conditions you rely much more on your equipment. My gear proved to be dependable in the challenging conditions and I’ve posted a picture below of my Merida Ninety Nine bike to show you the equipment I used during the event as it played a big role in the outcome of the race. This all helped Anriëtte (who was on the same bike) and me to have a successful PEPlett, winning all 4 stages and the overall in the ladies category.
A big well done to Red Cherry Adventures for hosting an enjoyable event in unfavourable conditions. I really hope that the event will have better luck weather wise next year as it deserves a break. It has the right recipe with a scenic route in a beautiful part of our country, warm hospitality and a vibrant atmosphere. Flavourable, agh I mean favourable weather is the only ingredient missing from the mix.