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!


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