Friday 21 November 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 22:41 | No comments

My first road race

The last road ride I did was the Argus - a whole 8 months previously. So, in an effort to seem motivated I entered the Klein Joostenberg Fun ride. I reckoned that this would be the perfect ride to make a comeback on, as it is the week before the Double Century, so everyone should be resting, thus making my life a bit easier. It was also the same day as the 94.7, and I was hoping that many people had gone up-country to race. Just to be safe, I thought I would ride in E. Imagine my nervousness when, in the start chute, there were at least 5 other guys from B. Russell had also made an appearance. It looked like my gentle slow ride just wasn't going to happen.

From the gun things were quite racey, and I slotted into my usual position in the peloton - right near the back somewhere. Russell kept me company, and apart from hanging onto my pockets up the rolling hills, I was quite comfortable there. But I had a feeling something was going to change, and when got to the bottom of the biggest rolling hill of the day, several guys hopped off the front. Suddenly my plan to hide at the back was out the window, and I found myself chasing down the break, and towing some other riders across. Once things had settled down, 12 of us had ridden off the front, and we had the group of C/D in our sights ahead of us.

Yo sneaking back the snacks

After making a meal of the chase to C/D, we finally caught them with about 20kms to go, but into a rather nasty head wind. By this time I was starting to fade, and had to dig deep to hang on in the gutter. Over one of the rollers someone ahead of me got unhitched, and that was that. I had a 5km ride with a couple of other stragglers to the finish. All in all, it was good to get out to race again, and to see just exactly where my fitness is (or isn't).

How was the ride?

This was also Yolanda's first ride since the Argus (and pretty much the first time on a bike since then as well). Mike and Fee made their SA road riding debut, and from the sounds of things, they all had a 88km time trial, finishing off into that terrible headwind.

Let the snacking begin

With the ride over, it was time for snacks. And let's be honest - that is the real reason we ride. We had a lovely picnic under the trees as we watched the prize giving, hoping our lucky numbers would be called out. They weren't, but it didn't matter - we had some good snacks, several cups of tea, and a post ride half-snooze.

Horse rides for the adventurous

Let's hope things get a little better for the Burger in just over a week's time. I have been seeded in the SubVet bunch, but I am a little worried of even making it over Helshoogte with them!

The real snacks!
Posted by Velouria Posted on 00:09 | No comments

Double Century Weekend

As everyone gets ready for the annual pilgrimage of pain and suffering, I sit at home, sick. Looks like the cycling gods don't even want me to do backup.

Good luck to all the riders, fast and slow - I am jealous of everyone.

The most talked about subject all week has been the weather for Swellendam on Saturday, and it looks like it could be rather good for bike riding - a little bit of rain, but at least the wind stays away.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 17:45 | No comments

Botrivier Barrel Race

With all the secret training I have been doing, I thought it would be a good idea to test my legs in a real race. My plan was to ride the 15km Botrivier MTB race, claim an easy victory, boost my ego, and keep my sponsors happy. Unfortunately, we had a rather big night the night before the race, and I was worried that I would not be able to beat the under 12 girls who I would be up against.

The Madagascar Reunion - Yo is still awake

It is all fine and well beating the girls, but imagine the damage that would be done to my ego if I were to be beaten. So instead I opted to blend in with the back markers on the 30km race.

The other competition - Gavin and Michelle

Old habits die hard - as soon as the gun went off, instinct took over, and I found myself on the front of the bunch, pushing hard. Behind I could hear a bit of a scramble as the young racing snakes jostled to get on my wheel. Any worries I had about my knee went out the window, and my next worry was how long I could keep up the pace over the rolling hills, straight into a head wind.

Always stay hydrated

Spectators should stay hydrated too

I reckoned I had about 10 minutes in my legs and my lungs, and in that time I was going to make the youngsters earn the win. It was good to ride hard again, and for about ten minutes I lead the 30km ride. With my legs and lungs aching, I sat up, pulled over, and waved goodbye to the racing snakes. Mad panic ensued, as one of them would now have to go to the front and face the gusty breeze.

Heavier than they look

The locals turned out in force

I waited for Brenton, and from then on had a great ride - stopping at all the watering points, taking a wrong turn in my eagerness to pass slower people (I almost ended up doing the 50km), and chatting to the people around me (which normally doesn't happen too often). As the ride settled down, Brenton and I found ourselves in the company of a young boy, who couldn't have been more than 13 years old. While he struggled into the wind (the lack of body weight can be a killer), he had no fear on the downhills. I was still quite nervous on the downhills, as two days previously I had fallen off my bike (again), and hurt my shoulder. I could see the youngster wanted to race to the finish, and so I made him work hard, eventually letting him "out sprint" me to the line.

Pre-race strategy discussions


Craig followed a similar tactic to me in the 50km, but instead of calling it quits after 10 minutes, he just kept on going - riding away from everyone to win another race. At least one of us is doing well. I might be the guy getting pushed all over the Western Cape next March ;)

On your marks

Get set...


The bike race was just the warm up to the days events, as the real highlight (probably of the year for the locals of Botrivier) was the barrel race. This involves a team of 4 rolling an empty wine barrel up and down a course in a relay. The top 4 times went through to the semi finals, with the winning team walking away with new wine barrel (and if you think that is a cheesy prize, a barrel apparently goes for around R8000!).

Ten out of ten for accuracy....

After studying the technique of the teams that went first, Team Snail Farmer (or something like that) made their barrel rolling debut against the professionals. I think they were the only non wine farm entry. And the wine farms take this competition quite seriously - I think the bragging rights of being the Barrel Rolling Champions are quite valued in Botrivier.

Post race analysis...