Wednesday 1 December 2010

Posted by Velouria Posted on 08:42 | 3 comments

Double Century 2010

Once again, the ragtag collection of riders that form the basis of Team got together for the first time the night before the Coronation Double Century in an African themed guest house in Swellendam. There were computer nerds, cycle industry executives, UIF receivers, surf apparel consultants, and a soon to be pro triathlete. We had Poms, Saffers, a Swiss, and a guy from Nam. There were some tall cyclists, some tanned cyclists, some short cyclists, some pale cyclists, and pair of ginger cyclists. Anyway you look at it - we made for quite a random collection of people. But we all had one common goal - to finally go under 6 hours for the 202km.
Marius, Russell, Dan, Sarel, Zayin, Pascal, Craig, Karel, Dane, Jarryd, Gavin, Hector
There was a very different vibe in the air on the evening before the race, compared to previous years. While everyone seemed nervous and a little introspective, there was a quiet confidence that we had finally assembled a team that would be good enough. The person most nervous was our backup driver - James. Twelve cyclists proceeded to give him often contradictory advice, and then let him know in no uncertain terms that the fate of the whole team rested in his hands. Possibly a little overwhelming for a guy who had never done backup before, let alone the DC. Rumour has it that he never slept that night, and spent the entire evening going over the race rules again and again, pacing up and down, while mumbling words like "pressure", "responsibility" and several other words not suitable for this blog.
Awaiting the start
After eating a surprising amount of pasta for dinner, and hashing out the plan for the next day several times, the riders slowly headed off to bed. Except Marius. He had been in bed since before the sun had even set (being newly wed, we forgave him just this once). I am not sure about the rest of the team, but I didn't sleep very well. I think I must have cycled the entire route at least three times in my mind, going over the smallest detail, running through checklists, and hoping that this wasn't going to be a repeat of the 2009 disaster. I, along with the rest of Team were put out of our sleep deprived misery when we were rudely awoken at around 4am by a stray herd of wildebeest that ran through the guest house several times, occasionally stopping to use the toilet.
One straight stripe
With everyone up and ready, and Hector being closely monitored by three assigned chaperones, we went over the plans one last time. The backup car was packed, the bikes were lubed and tyres were pumped. We were ready once again to tackle the DC. Our 7am start meant we had missed the worst of the weather, unlike the poor teams that had started at 5am. The light overnight rain had cleared, the wind had dropped and the clouds were lifting. A perfect day for bike racing. I was a little disappointed that our team captain didn't get us into a huddle and give us one last team talk, and when I saw the team behind us doing this I thought we might be doing something wrong. Although, with our fancy looking 5339 cycle kit, we didn't need a team huddle - we already looked like we knew what we were doing! As the start gun for Team went off, all thoughts left our heads, and we got on with the task of riding 202km as fast as we could.
Synchronised feeding under the watchful eye of the captain
There isn't much to report about from the actual race. I was either behind someone, focussed on his wheel and bum, or taking my 2 minute turn on the front. As we started catching people, the view from the front became quite unpleasant (much like the view of a certain Swiss bum in see through shorts) - there were riders spread out all over the road, backup vehicles squeezing into gaps that didn't exist, busses overtaking on blind rises. Often, we were left with little choice but to attempt to pass in the right hand lane. How no one got hurt, let alone killed, is amazing.

By the top of Op de Tradouw we were down to 11 riders, but still flying along under the steady, and often excruciatingly painful, pace set by Sarel the See Fiets Monster (for the youngsters on our team reading this, ask your parents about the Sarel the Seemonster reference) and Dan the Triathlete. Montague, Ashton, Robertson, Bonnivale all passed by in a blur of sweat and energy juice as we slowly started to lose riders. With 40kms to go, we were down to 9 riders, but more importantly, still had 1h30 to play with.
A friendly Dan the Triathlete, warmed up after 160km and ready to lead the way.
Then came The Incident that we'll debate for years come. Five of us were on the front of a rather big bunch of riders consisting of at least 2 other teams. We were setting a good pace, but somehow lost sight of the rest of the team, and proceeded to ride them off the back of the bunch. By the time we realised we were just 5 riders, it was too late - the damage had been done. We lost several minutes as two riders went back looking for a suitable number 6. Everything was eventually sorted out and we got going again - no one could drop off now as it was down to the 6 of us to get the sub 6 hour we had been aiming for.

Sarel on the front, dashing for home.
With great team work, determination, gritted teeth and aching legs we made our way over the last couple of hills which felt like mountains by now - all the while receiving encouragement from the backup vehicle. James had clearly found a manual or something on the internet the night before, and was putting his new found backup knowledge to great use. I almost felt like a pro. White line fever took over and with speeds well over 60km/h on the flats we steamed towards Swellendam, cresting the last climb and crossing the finish line in an unbelievable time of 5h47:10 and an average speed of 34.91km/h. It was surreal. In an instant, all the pain and suffering vanished and it had been worth it.
A rather chuffed looking Team
The customary post DC Team braai took place in the rain, again, and it wasn't long before we all drifted off to bed with full stomachs and big smiles. We awoke early the next morning to the news that we had finished 6th overall - not bad for a bunch of mountain bikers, triathletes and bit-part roadies.

After a breakfast of scrambled ostrich egg, bacon, mushrooms and toast we packed up and headed back to reality - already scheming about DC 2011 and how we could go even faster!

Watch the video 59 times for the full 5h47 DC experience


  1. awesome 3minute video of my ass

  2. nice one pansie, but are we not 5th over all now?

  3. Marius, are you asking because of the AT debacle of their results disappearing off Racetec's website?