Monday 8 March 2010

Posted by Velouria Posted on 10:50 | 1 comment

Hell's sweaty armpit

The annual pilgrimage to Boschendal Estate for the Argus MTB Challenge occurs one week before the Fun Ride World Champs (aka The Argus), and this year was no different. The event has grown quite considerably, so much so that it is now spread out over two days.

Weather for this event seems to vary from the extremes - either cold and wet, or hot and airless. This year was another scorcher. The organisers hd made several changes to the route in order to ease the congestion. The big change was the position of the big climb - in previous years it was right near the end of the race. This year the climb was going to be used to split the bunches up.

Click for a bigger image

The race got off to a fast start - possibly a little too fast for many, especially given the heat, and the approaching climb. I tried to ride a constant pace, and figure out how the new bike, now known as Nelly, handled. She climbs a little slower than Svalbaard, but on the gradual uphill drags and flats she comes into her own. She doesn't feel fast, but judging by the rate at which I caught at passed the smaller bikes she must be fast.

At one point I was towing a couple of riders along, slowly but surely catching the targets up ahead. Thinking I was towing all the guys I had caught, I looked over my shoulder to give them the evil eye when I had to chuckle - there were only 3 of us, and each guy was on a 29er. It was like we were hunting in a pack, picking off the opposition one by one. Eventually I managed to drop my newfound friends and go it alone, keeping one eye out for Marius (a challenge that never materialised).

I crossed the line in 2h51, relieved that it was over. I got a maximum temperature of 39C, and an average heart rate of 176 beats per minute. It had been a tough day out on a course that isn't that tough at all. I would have been happy with a top 50 finish, and was quite surprised with 25th.

While hanging around at the finish Conrad Stoltz came up to chat to me. I would like to think it was because of my awesome ride, but the truth is he was coming to ask about Nelly. He had just obliterated the competition, riding to a 9 minute victory on his 29er (I secretly had hoped that I would be the first 29er, but 2nd isn't that bad).

Yolanda looking fresh

Because of the heat, the race officials had decided to cut off the long route a little earlier than expected, catching Yolanda out. She had been looking after herself and was in good shape for the rest of the 55km route when she was sent back to the start after about 35kms. We suspect the Greek might have had a role to play in this - he did look nervous in the start chute about losing to a girl. On the positive side, Team Dulux will be nice and rested for next week's Fun Ride World Champs, while the Greek was put through his paces. We'll have to see if he can recover in time to mount a serious challenge. And don't forget the Runner - he has been resting all week, and could possibly leave the Greek for dead up the first hill. Time will tell.

Yolanda, Louis, and Nelly

1 comment :

  1. ive heard that The Runner caned 90 kms on the road in the sunday heat in just over three hours! It unlikely that the greek will manage to match The Runners' pace and stamina evn though The Runner will be starting at mid morning on a mountain bike (29er of course) some 20 000 people behind the greek!