Yak Attack – Rumble In The Jungle 2014
The weekend prior to registration was spent catching up with old Yak Attack friends around Negombo Beach, Phil & Kate, Steve Edwards, Zoltan Keller, Eric Coomer, Sonya Looney, but our little group continued to grow and we added new ones each day too; Hannah Barnes, Myriam Saugy, Kerstin Kogler, and others, all showed up at meal times in Mr Crab, our favourite little restaurant. We had a new little “Rumble” family growing by the day. It is my experience that extreme events seem to attract a particular type of person; normally laid-back, un-flustered, kind of people that just seem to slot in well. Perhaps it’s the adventurous spirit that makes people easy-going and easy to get on with?
Registration was held on Monday 17th November at The (very nice) Catamaran Beach Hotel in Negombo; Phil & Kate were ensconced in a little air-conditioned office for the day as racers came and went. Andre Deplechin and I rolled up together and I got lucky Number Seven; surely a good omen 🙂
There was also a press conference scheduled for 5.30pm which we were all welcome to attend.
Eric Coomer and I were particularly looking forward to this; Phil organises amazing events but he really doesn’t enjoy the glare of public speaking and Eric and I had been ribbing him mercilessly beforehand, taking great delight in Phil’s discomfort. It’s what friends are for.
Sadly (for us) it all went off very well and Phil managed to get away unscathed despite the pressure.
|Phil Evans looking particularly uncomfortable during the press conference! 😀
Then we all went off to the pre-race party!
As is usual, at the end of the evening, there remained just a few stragglers, Myself, Phil & Kate, Eric Coomer, and Lynch & Ben (The videographers), and that’s when the magic happens!
In Sri Lanka, it transpires, they enjoy a drink or two. One particular chap took great delight in telling us that Sri Lanka has one of the highest rates of alcoholism in the world!
We were approached by a genial, and clearly inebriated, elderly man who insisted we join him with the house band for a dance and a sing-song. Who were we to decline such an invitation?
|Phil & Kate enjoying the impromptu sing-a-long!
Our man, we later learned, is something of a figurehead, a powerhouse if you like, of Sri Lankan media. We were about to be serenaded by Asia’s answer to Rupert Murdoch!
He was actually quite good. Something of a crooner!
Then we all danced.
And then the magic happened all over again!
The house band wanted to go home and managed to deflect our man’s requests for more shenanigans.
One or two chaps slowly tried to shuffle him out the door and bring the evening to a close when, all of a sudden, he tombstoned! And I mean TOMBSTONED!
Pole-axed. Vertical to horizontal in the blink of eye, taking out a free-standing fan in the process!
I couldn’t get my breath! So I held on to it for about 45 seconds.
Everyone fussed around, got him back on his feet, and made sure he was OK.
Eventually I managed to squeak out a high-pitched “Is he alright?”. And that’s when I caught a glimpse of Eric Coomer, clearly in the same condition as me. Red-faced, tears forming, unable to breath, and on the verge of collapse. I nearly fucking wet myself.
The annals of Yak Attack history have another chapter.
Tuesday morning had us all gathering at The Catamaran ready to transfer by coach to Kuda Oya. We were taking the newly built expressway to the historic southern city of Galle then the scenic route around the coast before heading inland to Kuda Oya.
I enjoyed the ride. It was a long day, around seven hours, but I had local lad Mewan, and the ex-pats Simon and Ivan for company, which meant local knowledge and lots of it all the way! We even spotted a big Monitor Lizard crossing the carriageway in front of us.
We stopped for lunch in the fort at Galle and I was impressed enough to stick it on the list of places to properly visit later in my holiday.
An enterprising local had a monkey and a couple of snakes to entertain (and fleece) passing travellers. Sonya enjoyed playing with a big snake, I’ll say no more about that.
I’m not really a fan of wild animals in captivity so when this chap started aggravating his King Cobra in to striking I was firmly rooting for the snake. I know it’s mean but I would have wet myself all over again if it had managed to bite him! 😀
|Seriously, who goads a snake?
We arrived at Kuda Oya late in the afternoon and it saw a flurry of activity as we all scrambled around building up and checking the bikes in preparation for the following days racing.
The evening meal and race briefing took place and then we all went our separate ways. Some of us, the lucky ones, were staying put, the others had to transfer to another hotel some way down the road before transferring back again in the morning. It was a shame to be all split up; initially Phil had been expecting us all to be together, some in lodges, some in tented camps, but the logistics partner LSR had arranged it this way instead.
I was sharing with Zoltan Keller (Hungary). Zoltan really doesn’t like creepy-crawlies. To my great delight our room was full of them! Wooden lodges and jungle are a great combination for creepy-crawlies; the Praying Mantis crawling up the wall put the wind right up him!
Mind you, the lizard that shot out from the back of toilet whilst I was taking a pee, in the middle of the night, put the wind right up me too!
|Phil giving the Stage 1 briefing.
|Zoltan’s little friend!
|Locked and Loaded!
|It didn’t look this clean after four days of racing!
For racing I have a self-built bike based around a 17″ Kona Kula Watt Carbon Frameset.
120mm Rockshox SID XX World Cup Fork
Wheels: 26″ Stans ZTR Flow rims with Hope Pro2 Evo Hubs and straight pull spokes
Maxxis ADvantage 2.1″ Tubeless Tyres with Stans Sealant
Shimano 10spd XT Drivetrain with an FSA BB30 K-Force Light Crankset
Shimano XT SPD Pedals/DMR Vault Flat Pedals
Shimano XT Hydraulic Disc Brakes and Ice-Tech Rotors 160mm rear/180mm Front
Easton EC90 Carbon Seatpost with Fizik Gobi XM Kium Saddle
Raceface Turbine 70mm Stem and Easton 711mm Haven Carbon Bars
Hope Tapered Headset
Odi Ruffian Lock-on Grips
Alpkit Fuel Pods in small & medium for food and tools. The Fuel Pods are great for racing and allow me to keep Torq Bars & Gels handy for on-the-go fuelling during the race stages.
Next up is the race report, look out for it soon.
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