Wednesday 16 January 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 11:44 | 3 comments

The Defense.

I had been dreading this day for 365 days - the defense of my 24hr title. The week before the event I was a nervous wreck - I couldn't sleep at night, and it felt like I had a death sentence hanging over my head. When Saturday finally did dawn, it all seemed to disappear, much like the worries of a person being led off to the gallows.

Once again the Cape weather played along, and it was a scorchingly hot summer's day that greeted us as we arrived at Wiesenhof at 9 in the morning. We unpacked the car, put up the Maverick gazebo, and then waited. And waited.

Finally 12 o' clock came, and the defense of my 24hr title began. I had planned to ride my own race, take it easy, be consistent, listen to my body. That all went out the window when I heard that I was lying down in 7th or 8th place after a couple of laps - how could the defending champ be so far off the pace. I got caught up in the race, and was riding way too hard, and doing some stupid things out on the course. On the third lap, at one particularly horrible little bit of single track I went into the corner too quickly, went over a bump, and plopped over the handle bars. I was fine, but in the process my front wheel had burped. I tried to catch it with my pump, but I was too late, the tire had deflated too much and was no longer sealing against the rim. Time to put in a tube. This little incident only added to matters, and I tried to make up for the 7 minutes that I had lost by riding hard. What a stupid idea!

The first six hours were terrible. Nothing felt right - I was hurting, and unable to get into a rhythm. If I had had an excuse there and then, I would have quit, but cruelly none was forthcoming. And I didn't get much sympathy from my backup crew either.

As usual, Yolanda was my backup (or pit bitch as they are called), and Jayne (of JailBreak fame) had volunteered her physio services. In addition, they had met up with the paramedics that had hauled Yolanda and her broken femur off the mountain in the Stellenbosch MTB ride. I had a whole little fan club cheering me on lap after lap. The backup team were brilliant, force feeding me, massaging my legs, ignoring my moaning, mixing countless bottles of juice (I think I drank in excess of 35 bottles of juice), and sussing out the competition.

This year's course was a bit more technical than last years, and a bit tougher on the body, but this year I was riding Svalbard, so things probably equaled out. Meurant had added 3 rather large drop offs in the middle of the lap, which threatened to catch me out each lap. This was a course where you had to concentrate for the entire lap, otherwise something bad was going to happen, and did happen. Gavin (of 24hr World Champs fame) lost it on a piece of single track and gashed himself up quite nicely and buckled his front wheel. At around 2am, I rode into a tree I didn't even see, and before I knew it I was lying on my back in a cloud of dust, having bashed my knee and elbow quite hard.

By about 8pm I had taken the lead, much to my surprise, as my strategy is to make up the laps on people while they sleep. Being in front so early on gave the others a target, and I was a little worried. Thankfully by this time I had gotten into a rhythm and was riding nice consistent laps - not the fastest lap times, but metronomically consistent.

I love riding at night, particularly the early hours - it is so quite and peaceful, most of the other riders are sleeping, and it is just you and your thoughts, going round and round and round. You can't see your computer, so you have no idea of lap times or heart rates - you just focus on the little pool of light in front of you, and forget about everything else.

The lap I enjoyed the most was the last one before sunrise. It is still dark enough that you have to use your light, but there is a slight glow in the sky, and everything looks crisp and fresh. It doesn't last long before the sun is up, and along with the sun came the heat. I got a recorded temp of 47C, but that must be wrong. I reckon the temperatures got up into the high thirty's - 38C or 39C.

By 8am on Sunday morning I had a 6 lap lead, which pretty much meant that I had to do one lap to every three that the guy in second was doing. I didn't take any chances, and ended up doing one lap for every two laps of his, riding with Yolanda. I was most impressed - she rode the entire route, dropoffs and technical bits, and was riding away from me on the climbs.

I comfortably won this event, completing 34 laps, 3 laps more than 2nd place, and possibly made it look to easy. I am considering retiring from competitive 24hr racing - those first 6 hours were terrible. Also, everybody just expects that I will win.

Some stats: I burned 17154KCal (or 71772 kilojoules) - the average of a person my age is 9000-16900 kilojoules per day. I climbed 5650m, or 166m per lap. I drank about 20 liters of fluid (and only went to the toilet once).



  1. I know i am repeating myself here but once again.. you are fracking crazy, batshitcrazy in fact!

    nice photography by the way. was it yo on the new camera or bonte on her new camera?
    i dont know about the merits of the "artistic" photo though.

  2. Well done again, Epic is going to be interesting. Promise I'll try to keep up !

  3. Hey Dude

    Awesome as always! Nice pics and great editorial too. Maybe you can think of a job in journalism if this computer thing gets boring...