Thursday 20 December 2007

Posted by Velouria Posted on 14:07 | 3 comments

The day I almost drowned.

Caution - Viewer discretion required

Gross pictures at bottom

The team

My personal professional photographer (bonte) managed to convince me to enter a team into the JailBreak Triathlon held at Brandvlei prison. I was the weak link in a mixed team consisting of Jayne (a regular member of Team 4x4), and Gareth, and we had high hopes of doing quite well.

There had been talk of unseasonal overnight rain in Worcester which I hoped "they" had got wrong. When we awoke at 4 in the morning it was still raining, and it didn't look like it was going to clear any time soon. It was going to be a long, hard, wet day.

Waiting for the start

The start of the race was delayed by an hour, which just meant we spent more time standing around in the rain, getting wet. Jayne wasn't too phased by the rain - she was about to get very wet with a 2.2km swim.

Jayne after the first lap

Jayne had a brilliant swim - she was the second lady out of the water, and about 8th overall.

On her way to the transition

Run Jayne run

See Jayne run

Brenton managing a smile - sort of

Craig wondering why everyone chose to wear wetsuits

I had the rather daunting task of doing a 100km time trial, in the pouring rain. The route consisted of two laps of an out and back course to Slanghoek, which was thankfully rather flat. The headwind on the way out did make it rather tough though.

"A Maverick rider in the second team"

Looking mean

One lap done

Towards the end of the ride I was praying for hills for two reasons - I discovered that I could climb faster than the guys on proper time trial bikes, and the fact that my back was killing me from sitting in the drops for almost 3 hours.

At last - a hill

What great photography

At one point I thought I was going to die - a massive bolt of lightning lit up the sky, just as I was going under some power lines, and the whole earth shook. I was saved a quick and painless death, and instead was slowly tortured to near death over 100km.

The support team staying dry, and getting friendly with the gate guards

I lost about 20 minutes to the leading team - William Robinson was going so fast the leading motorcycle was struggling to keep up.

Warm and dry, for now

After almost 3 hours of suffering I handed over to Gareth to make up some time on the 25km run. While he was able to close the gap on the individuals, the was unable to make a dent in the lead of the leading team.

Proof that running kit looks worse than cycling kit

Almost there

What? No dancing girls?

We were soundly beaten into second place, with each of us being beaten in our own disciplines by the leaders, but we had a great day out - despite all the rain. And we got some prizes which made it all worth it. Like most events, I am already scheming about next year.

A happy team after the event

Give us our medals Gareth!

Caution - Viewer discretion required

Jogger's nipple

Why white is never a good colour

Wednesday 12 December 2007

Posted by Velouria Posted on 13:51 | No comments

Fun rides

The last two rides of the season have come and gone, and after the Double Century, no one really wanted to be racing anyway.

First up was the Burger. A great ride - well organised, a "nice" route, and great weather. I chose to ride in the Sub Vets (I was still a little worried after the implosion at the DC), but really shouldn't have been. The race started off by taking us up the old Helshoogte pass. That was great, and before we knew it we were at the top - I love those sort of hills. I got over the top in the first bunch of about 10 riders, but on the downhill on the other side, most people were able to rejoin the bunch (everyone except Tim - don't know where he went - he was looking good up the climb - well placed in the bunch one minute, and the next minute he was nowhere to be seen.)

From there on in it was a cruise through Pniel, past the prison, round some back roads in Paarl, and finally on our way to Wellington. After we had crossed a massive trench in the road on the way out of Wellington, the racing started. With every acceleration we lost a couple of riders, and the bunch got a little smaller. I was feeling good, and even took a few turns on the front to try to close a gap to two adventurous riders who went on the attack with about 30 kms to go. The big move came on the hill outside Liefland wine farm on the R44, and I was able to stay with the leaders, closing the gaps as they opened. About 7 of us got away, and we desperately tried to open the gap on the rest. On the next hill, 5 of us got clear at the front, when another attack came in, leaving two riders off the front. Several chase riders joined us, and we slowly closed the gap to the leaders with about 5kms to go, all the while the chasing riders were rejoining the bunch.

It came down to a bunch sprint, and I watched it all from the safety of the back of the bunch - happy with my time of 2:38.

The top of Helshoogte

The Maverick tandem at the top of Helshoogte

The last race of the season was the Tour de Winelands. I was not supposed to do this ride, but I had had such a terrible ride the year before I felt I had unfinished business.

A and B started together, and it was clear to see that this wasn't going to be a fun ride. The A boys were out to prove a point, and the surges kept coming. I hung on to the back of the bunch for the first half of the race while I waited for my legs to get going. We had ridden to the start of the race in Brackenfell, and so my legs were feeling a little lazy.

On the AgterPaarl road the moves began to happen, and I was quite comfortable keeping up with the surges. A few gaps opened up thanks to some Club100 riders, and I found myself in a 4 man group about 30 meters behind the lead bunch of about 12 riders. We chased for about 12 kms, before I decided that we were getting nowhere and decided to wait for the chase group. When the chase group did eventually arrive, it was rather pedestrian, and there was no way we were going to catch anything. I took some long hard turns on the front, and couple other riders helped out. I really was quite impressed at how my legs were coping. The run in to the finish was over a couple hills, and I was able to easily stay with the leaders of the chase group. It always amazes me how people jump out of the woodwork when the finish comes into sight. For 40kms 3 or 4 people had shared the work on the front, and suddenly there were 25 people racing for 12th spot. I just sat up and watched...

Just chilling at the back of the bunch (along with Marius)

Cobus and "friend" riding in the lower groups

Now it is the Jail Break to come, and lots and lots of Epic training.

Thursday 29 November 2007

Posted by Velouria Posted on 15:36 | No comments

DC 2007

Craig and I had initially volunteered our services out to the Wannabees for this year's Double Century. The idea of riding 200kms slowly with a bunch of old guys didn't really appeal to us, and so Craig decided to make his own team (he wasn't good enough for the Hermanus teams - apparently).

We managed to cobble together a team consisting of all sorts of odds and ends. We initially had 11 people - 2 Poms, two Gauties, the Maverick Racing Team (all 3 of us), a Durbanville local, and 3 left over Hermanus riders. As is always the case, some people dropped out, and we were left with 8 riders - the 2 Gauties and the Durbanviller dropping out.

Craig had set his sights on doing a sub 6 hour ride. This was always going to be a tough task, and now we only had 8 riders who had never ridden together before. The only thing unifying us was the free Litespeed kit Chris (one of the Poms) kindly donated to the team. Our team name was FLAT OUT, and that was pretty much how we were going to have to ride if we wanted to get that sub 6.

But we weren't the only ones facing a challenge - the ladies were also competing, and several months of training was about to be put to the test. Just for the record - no one convinced them to ride - they volunteered on their own. Pretty darn hardcore!

Still all smiles

Bike racing is serious - no time to smile :)

We started our ride at 6:23, which, if according to the plan, would mean we would be finished by 12:22 or so. We quickly left Swellendam behind us and headed off towards Suurbrak. Craig was leading the team from the front, and took a long 7 minute first pull on the front (I was quite worried - if we were all going to have to do 7 minute pulls we would be dead by 9am). Shortly after hitting the N2 we passed the Wannabee Social team containing our wives. They were still all smiles (I am glad they had a checklist otherwise it could have been a different story!)

Ready? ...

Steady? ...


Tradouw Pass made for a pleasant climb - loosen the legs up and get the heart going. Everyone was still looking good, although I was feeling a little sorry for Anton - big men don't like going uphill. We were continually passing teams, and having the carrot dangling in front of us was good motivation. At the top of the Pass we turned left at the Barrydale intersection, and headed towards Montagu, via the only other serious climb of the day - Op Die Tradouw Pass. This one is a bugger. It is one of those hills where you can't see the top, and every time you get to a corner you get to look up and see still more climbing ahead.

Sticking with tradition - I gave Russel a push up the Pass again - not that he needed it this year. We got to our first feed stop at 66km in just a little over 2 hours. We had another 70kms of riding with the wind to Robertson, and then another 70kms into the wind back to Swellendam via Bonnievale.

Our top notch seconders - service with a smile

Our seconders were brilliant - and to think they had only found out what they had to do a couple of hours before. Friendly, understanding and organised. Thanks :)

Craig had calculated that we needed an average speed of 33km/h to do a sub 6, and at the top of the pass we had an average of 31.5km/h, so I decided to take it upon myself to up the average. The rolling hills into Montagu flew by, with our maximum speed of the day coming in at just over 75km/h. There were fewer and fewer teams ahead of us - we had pretty much passed the majority of the 100 or so teams before us.

Just before Montagu we were passed by the Pinnacle Point guys. After much debate we had decided not to stop at Montagu, but to rather push on to Bonnievale at 160kms for our next stop. Just after Montagu we were passed by another team - the SA De Jeaux team, and for the next 60kms had a bit of a ding dong battle with them - us passing them, and them passing us. They were also a team of only 8, and they too were suffering.

I think this was Montagu

The road to Robertson is a long and boring one - not very much to look at, and a couple of rather annoying little hills. Anton was starting to take strain, but was hanging on. On a couple of occasions I thought that he was going to drop off, but every time he would clench his teeth, dig deep, and ride back onto the bunch.

We were doing well, and had managed to get the average speed up to 34.5km/h - was it going to be enough to make up for the trip back into the wind?

We hit the circle at Robertson, and turned into the head wind - almost immediately our speed dropped, as did the general feeling in the team. To make things a little worse - the SA De Jeaux team passed us when Cobus lost a bottle going over a railway line. I took a couple turns on the front, trying to keep the momentum going, but as we approached Bonnievale I could tell something wasn't right. With every effort that I put in, my stomach would start to ache, and I would feel a little nauseous. Sitting on the back of the bunch everything would be fine - until we started to hit the hills.

While I was dealing with my belly issues, Christian was complaining of a sore knee, and had decided to pull out at the next stop. This meant that we would be just 7 riders for the last 40kms. In Bonnievale I grabbed some water - trying to settle the beast in my belly, and hoped I would be ok. But 10 kms later and it had just gotten worse. I waved goodbye to the team, before waving goodbye to my stomach contents. After going to the toilet, I got back on my back and started to tackle the remaining 30kms as I quickly watched my team disappear off into the distance.

The worst road in SA

Chaos at the feed stop

Will the magic water do the trick?

On any other day, 30kms would take about an hour, but those 30kms felt like 1000kms. At several points I was very tempted to get off my bike and walk up the hills, but didn't because there were spectators camped out on most hills. And no amount of cheering and encouragement helps, but it is appreciated. I also noticed that I had a white car following me - not sure if it was someone I know, or, like a vulture waiting for its prey to die, he was getting ready to steal my bike should I pass out or die.

The marker boards were slowly ticking by 30kms, 20kms, 10kms, 5kms, 3kms, 2kms, 1km. That last kilometer was the longest one of the day, but eventually the finish line appeared and it was all over, for another year. Just to rub salt into the wound, the organisers then took us on a round about way through the streets of Swellendam to get us back to the sports grounds where we had started.

Perhaps it was the compulsory zebra feeding stop the cost us?

When I arrived, I found my team scattered across the grass, like soldiers wounded in battle - I think they had suffered way more than I had during those last 30kms. And we had missed out on the sub 6 by 6 minutes. I had finished 15 minutes later...

Russel leading the team across the line

A couple of beers later, and some food in the stomach, everyone was looking good, and we began the long wait for the ladies. Just like Hell and Back, you never know if there has been a mechanical or medical problem, and there is not much you can do but wait and hope. They eventually finished in 9:59:59, which is a very long time to spend on a bike, but they finished as a team, and everyone looked happy, and relieved that it was over. Yolanda has officially retired from the Double Century (at least for next year's).

They finished, as a team, with smiles

The rest of the weekend was spent telling stories about the ride, being lazy, and eating.

An ostrich egg to feed the masses - hurry up Chris!

This is going to be tasty!

Tuesday 27 November 2007

Posted by Velouria Posted on 10:42 | No comments

A kid in a candy store

A mate of mine recently bought Yolanda's brother's bike. Look at the smile on his face (and look at how nice the bike looks)

Posted by Velouria Posted on 10:33 | 3 comments

Assorted Pictures


Hell and Back