Wednesday 4 March 2009

Posted by Velouria Posted on 18:41 | No comments

Argus MTB 2009

Argus Week is officially here, and the Argus MTB is the first event in the series of bicycle-centric events to happen in Cape Town. The Giro del Capo follows, and then it is the big day - the day 30 000+ cyclists get to take over the streets of the Cape Peninsula - the Argus.

But before the skinny wheeled, lycra clad, speed loving roadies get their chance, their hairy, tar hating, mud loving bretheren got the chance to make Boschendal Winefarm their giant race course. And more than 4000 of these creatures turned up for the occasion.

The weather report all week had been for a hot and windless day, with temperatures peaking in the high 30's. It certainly makes for a change compared to a couple of years ago where we rode this race in the pouring rain.

The hot shots

This was to be our last hard effort before the Epic (the Argus hardly counts as a hard effort - even if we do do two laps). I wasn't sure what sort of state my legs were in after having a tough ride the day before. We arrived at the venue, got our numbers, put our kit on, fiddled with the bikes (this was going to come back and bite me later), and already the temperature was 30C at 7 in the morning. By the time I got into the start chute the sweat was pouring off me.

The race started in its usual frantic high paced, testosterone filled, argy bargy manner, and for the first time in a long time I actually felt quite good, and was able to make good progress early on. I am not known for my fast starts, and tend to get better the longer a race goes. I caught and passed a couple of familiar faces, including my Epic partner which worried me - was I going out too fast? I eventually caught Sara Muhl, and since she usually beats me in these sorts of races, I thought I would slot in behind her, slow down a little and ride a bit more conservatively.

Eventually, Craig caught us and passed us, and I decided that Sara's pace was going to cost me. The only problem now was that we had got into a mildly technical section, and between my semi slicks and absent technical skills (I think I left them at home in the rush to be on time), I could only watch as both Sara and Craig rode away from me. We eventually got onto the wider farm roads and I could put my head down nd try to catch the bunch of riders with white jersey's up ahead. One by one I would catch them as they dropped off of Craig's group, and each time I would be dissappointed that it wasn't Craig. My pre-race fiddling had resulted in me pumping my tires harder, and with all the soft sand about, that was just a recipe for disaster.

The sand claims another victim

On the foot hills of the climb the gap would close right up, but as soon as we levelled out the gap would increase again. I just couldn't get it under 40 seconds. By now it was hot - very hot, and the sweat was pouring off me. Good thing I had filled my 3l CamelBak. Our route had merged with the route of the 36km riders, and they were strewn all over the place like victims on a battle ground. Some stumbling alongside their bikes, some sitting under whatever shade they could find shaking their heads, some lying down mumbling things about being crazy and rather taking up golf. It was hot, and it was tough, and this is certainly not a race like its tar namesake in a week's time that you could just rock up and ride. I think several people learned that the hard way.

After gving up all hope of catching Craig, my attention was focused on not being passed by anyone from behind. Yet again my technical skill let me down, and in the last singletrack of the day I heard a rider approaching. It was a swiss rider - the first lady - and she seemed to be about a million times better than me on the technical stuff, so I let her past, and tried my best to hang on. I did so, and once again on the flats I was able to put my head down and paid her back by giving her a nice tow to the line
The first lady - I was just behind her

All in all, it was a good day - hard, tough and just what the coach wanted. I finished in 26th place in 2h36, 1:35 behind Craig, and with an average heart rate of 175 bpm.

Yolanda also rode, and did the long route, and although she was slower than last year, she did admirably well given her lack of training and mechanical mishaps.

All photos from the HubSA
(except those of Yolanda)


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