Thursday, 18 November 2010

Posted by Velouria Posted on 13:38 | No comments

Wines2Whales 2010


For the first time since my second Argus way back in 1998, Yolanda and I were going to ride together, and this time it wasn't just going to be a little trip around the Cape Peninsula. It was going to be a 3 day stage race from Lourensford in Somerset West to Onrus. That's 230km of bonding. Craig and Bonte (Team Finding Vino) would be doing it as well, and the event promised to be a great weekend away. Wines2Whales, here we come.
A bunch start!
That was until we got word of some competition. Our spies had been busy monitoring the Western Cape cycling scene, and something big appeared on the wires. Another couple with high ambitions had entered, and neither Yolanda nor Bonte would tolerate losing to this couple. And so the intelligence work began. Many favours were called in, information was gathered, Facebook accounts were monitored, results were scrutinised, acquaintances were interrogated, and plans were formulated. We knew when and where the opposition would be riding, how far their training rides were, their mental state, their strengths and their weaknesses. All this was done in absolute secrecy - something any intelligence operative would have been proud of. After several refinements and iterations we had a plan to beat the Wakefields, aka Team Heading For A Divorce.
All smiles
With our Plan safely locked away behind triple reinforced stainless steel doors, and two killer guard dogs employed on 12 hour shifts, we set about getting fit for the challenge that lay ahead. For Yolanda, this generally included looking out of the window, seeing a threatening cloud in the distance, and going back to bed. With only a couple of weeks to go she upped the training, both quality and quantity, and actually got on a bicycle. This was all part of The Plan, in case the Wakefields had infiltrated our cycling group and had spies reporting on her progress. While Yolanda was busy training, I was frantically trying to discover the race commissar's weakness. While I am not at liberty to discuss these details, the results speak for themselves, as both Finding Vino and The Bizweni Benders managed to get an A seeding.
A hearty meal for a stage racer
Race day eventually arrived, along with some rather foul weather, but mountain bikers are a tough lot and welcomed the thick sticky mud and slippery conditions with open arms. After a hearty breakfast of chocolate Pronutro at the Bokomo Breakfast Zone, we headed off to the A bunch, hanging with the likes of Christoph Sauser, Burry Stander, Conrad Stoltz and Dan Hugo.
Stage One
Stage One was going to be a bit of a brute with lots of steep climbs, some technical descents, and some tight singletrack as we made our way from Lourensford to Grabouw Country Club, for a total of 70kms and just under 1500m of climbing. Yolanda rode like a star - fearless in the face of some rather slippery conditions and attempted everything. A couple earth shattering tumbles later (and some rather sore looking bruises) we rolled across the finish line narrowly beating Team Finding Vino in a time of 6h22. Our bodies had survived, and more importantly so had our marriage (even if there were parts where we weren't speaking to each other - because apparently it's my fault when Yolanda falls on a slippery root or rock). I had earned massive brownie points by carrying my bike up the wagon trail, and at the same time pushing Yo's bike - this single act possibly saved our marriage.The many months of hard training had paid off, as Team Heading For A Divorce finished in a whopping 7h11. Barring any major mechanical difficulties, the overall victory would be ours.
Chatting to the enemy (mind games at work!)
What a view (except for the half naked cyclist)
With the riding out of the way, Yolanda quickly settled into the chore routine - showering, snacking, getting a massage, mixing juice etc. She especially enjoyed setting up "The Nest" - the tent we would be sleeping in. We would use the other tent to store all our stuff.
Stage Two
Ready for Stage Two
Stage Two had us hooking up all the best singletrack mountain biking in the Western Cape - OakValley, Thandi and Lebanon, into a 75km loop. I was a little nervous because I wasn't sure I would be able to stay on Yolanda's wheel. It turns out that she is quite a downhill maniac, especially when it comes to technical singletrack. Not a single person caught or passed us when she was in full flight, and I had to work hard to keep up with her. We had a couple of issues - an inconveniently placed root resulted in Yolanda having a rather heavy crash (which again was my fault). That was shortly followed by the longest puncture repair ever as I tried to fit a tube. Team Finding Vino passed us after we had been stationary for about 20 minutes, and Team HFAD somehow also sneaked past us. I suspect they did so on their bellies, leopard crawling through the long grass to maintain the element of surprise. It was only much later when we caught them that we realised we'd been passed by them. 
Close to being finished
In the spirit of W2W, we had come up with a rule that said there was to be no pushing of the ladies by the guys. We were going to ride at their pace. However, there was a escape clause, affectionately known as the Nadine Clause - if Team HFAD happened to be challenging for position on a stage, then pushing would be allowed. And that was exactly the situation Yolanda and I found ourselves in. We had started 10 minutes before Team HFAD, and when we recaught them we still had to get a 10 minute gap on them to stand any chance of beating them on the stage. It was like old times again - instead of Russel, I now had Yolanda to push, and we made good progress in the final 18kms, but unfortunately only managed to make up 5 of the required 10 minutes and finished in 5h52. Well done Team HFAD. Team Finding Vino also had a last minute puncture and lost out on the stage victory by a mere 40 seconds. A cynic would suggest that the circumstances of Team HFAD's victory were a little suspicious - both the opposition teams suffering punctures. A complaint was lodged and the race commissar is still investigating.
Up bright and early, ready for Stage Three

Stage Three
Stage Three was the final push towards Onrus, an 85km route with some great downhill, and a bit of a sting in the tail. With Team Finding Vino leading on GC, our two teams stuck together to provide a mental deterrent to Team HFAD. We were a little shocked to see them at the first water point - once again they had ridden 10 minutes into us, and once again we had to invoke the Nadine Clause. That was the last we saw of them as the ladies rode like champs up the many climbs, spurred on by the desire to claim the bragging rights. I was also made to look like an amateur again by Yolanda on some fast singletrack as she raced away from me (Coach - if you're reading this - we need to work on my skills!). With Onrus in sight, Teams Finding Vino and The Bizweni Benders flew past some dedicated supporters , all smiles. It had been a perfect day's riding. Or so we thought. With a couple hundred meters to go, Bonte had an altercation with an unforgiving Milkwood tree, the Milkwood winning and Bonte adding to her collection of scrapes and bruises. We crossed the line in 5h44, and then had the agonising wait for Team HFAD. Ten minutes eventually passed, giving us another stage win, and Team Finding Vino the overall victory.
Finished!
Team Heading for a Divorce - still together and smiling.
All in all, a very enjoyable event - well organised with a great route and fantastic vibe. This race is everything that the Epic is not, and I hope it stays this way. Plans are already underway on how to beat Team HFAD next year - our operatives are hard at work. Owning the Wakefields again will be a challenge, but we're more determined than ever.

The Bizweni Benders and Team Finding Vino - in matching 5339 kit
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