Thursday 15 November 2007

Posted by Velouria Posted on 13:05 | 3 comments

I survived Hell (only just)

The annual pilgrimage to Hell took place last weekend. This is always a great event - some tough cycling, usually some adverse weather conditions, and some beautiful scenery. And this year we had managed to convince the ladies to come along (we had to withhold some of the truth about the ride in order to get them to come along).

As is becoming the norm - I was dreading the start of the ride - and only because Craig seems to think that you have to go flat out from the gun. To add to the mix, Marius was also riding, and I wanted nothing more than to beat him. At 7 am we were off, and Craig did not disappoint - Marius and I just shook our heads in disbelief as he powered away from us up the first bit of uphill.

"They never said it was this long"

I don't remember most of the ride into Hell, as I was hanging on to Craig's back wheel, and suffering all the way. The only comfort I got was knowing that Marius was having the same trouble hanging on to my wheel. We climbed the 18km up Swartberg pass in 1h17. I recovered slightly on the flat middle section, and really enjoyed riding behind Craig on the downhills. He picks much better lines than I do. Marius let us know he was always there because his bike was making a racket - squeaking and creaking on every pedal stroke.

"Or we could just go back to the start??"

With about 10km to go, we had a 4km climb called HeartBreak Hill before the final descent into Die Hel. Craig got a bit of a gap on me, as I tried to ride a steady pace over the climb. Marius was still stuck on my wheel, and with the final downhill coming, I had to get rid of him. I got in front of him going into the downhill, and out descended him. I took a few risks, but when I saw a guy climbing up after having gone over the edge, I backed off a bit. I finished in 3h03, a minute behind Craig, and 2 minutes ahead of Marius.

"You mean we have to ride there??"

Now the wait for the ladies began. We both knew that we were going to be in serious trouble when they eventually did arrive - it was way tougher and longer and harder than what we had led them to believe. And as the time went by, we had to wonder if they had had a mechanical, or even worse, a crash. When Yolanda and Bonte eventually did arrive, we could tell that they had had a long tough day, but I think they were also proud of their achievement. The trouble was that they had to ride out the next day.

"Never mind the heart, my bum is broken!"

We spent the rest of the day in the Maverick camp, talking nonsense, tending to the girls (we looked like such henpecked men!). We had a braai that night, and Nigel and his world class steaks did the trick. The ladies looked like they might be able to ride out the next day.


Making juice for Bonte

Making juice for Yolanda

Sunday dawned, and already the mood in the camp had changed. The climb out of die Hel was sitting heavily on everyone's minds - today was going to be another tough day! We packed up the tents, loaded the trucks, and headed towards the start line. This is one of the few rides where you start the race in your granny gear, and face a 4 km climb right from the start.

A crazy local?

We had been seeded in the top 100, and so the start was not too chaotic. It took us a while to get warm - the heart rate took a while to get into the race zone. Once there, I decided that I was going to ride the climb like it was the only thing I was doing that day, and pushed really hard. We strung along a couple of familiar faces, Marius, John (TransBaviaans), and some other Hermanus locals. Marius started taking strain quite soon on, and just after the descent of HeartBreak Hill we dropped him. I think the hill had neutralised Craig's fast starting ability, and as the race wore on, I felt my legs were getting better, and I was riding in a comfortable suffer-zone.

Very important - the braai!

I also got a bit of revenge on Craig, as he had quite a bad middle patch, although it didn't last as long as I would have liked :) . We had a couple mechanical incidents on the way out - I did some interesting things to my chain, and Craig lost a pivot bolt in his rear triangle. Thank goodness for cable ties. And you don't have to worry, if you think the thought of Craig's bike disintergrating under him would slow him down, you are wrong. It was from here on that he started recovering, and eventually reversed the tables on me.

After descending Swartberg pass we hit the last 5 kms of the ride - on tar, and I got a bad dose of cramps in my thighs and calves. Craig was eager to get the race over with, but I was holding him back. We finished in 3h16, and 30 seconds later, much to our surprise, Marius crossed the line - that had been far to close for comfort!

Ok, enough smiling - I want to eat!

It was at this point that things took a turn for the worse. We decided to drive back to a part of the route and wait for the ladies. Somehow we missed the ladies, and they finished without us to cheer them in. When we eventually did return to the finish, there were two rather grumpy and tired riders. All they had wanted was for us to cheer them in, and we had missed them. A packet of chips and some food later, and peace was restored - thankfully ;)

A good weekend was had all round, although I don't think the ladies will do this ride again.

Craig and I came 32nd and 33rd overall, and 8th and 9th in the SubVets - not too shabby.


  1. freakin low spermcounted, ballcancer-inviting, endorphine-addicted crazy ass cyclists.... you are all crazy.

  2. You are still in trouble!! And just wait - after this weekend's ride there is going to be even more trouble!!!! I am not the pro you think I am.