Tuesday 29 November 2011

Posted by Velouria Posted on 13:46 | 5 comments

Double Century 2011

Once again, Team 5339.co.uk had assembled a rag tag bunch of cyclists with the aim of riding 202 kilometers as fast as we could. We're a virtual team, corresponding via email, and meeting up together as a team for the first time the night before the event. Captain Craig and I spend the entire year between events trying to fill the ranks around a core group of riders, always on the hunt for riders who will compliment our cause, so you can imagine our relief when we were able to recruit "The Biggest Cyclist in the World"™ and some of his friends. The team now consisted of some road cyclists, some mountain bikers, some triathletes, a Double Century virgin, a localised Brit, a senior citizen, The Accountant, and two mustache wearing members of the Village People - a cosmopolitan bunch indeed.

Team 5339.co.uk
Ever since our stroke of recruitment genius, I had been receiving updates via twitter from "The Biggest Cyclist in the World"™, mainly about his training, and to say that I was nervous is an understatement. With each update my anxiety levels increased - suddenly my 350kms a week seemed rather pathetic in comparison to the 600kms a week he was putting in. I sensed that this was going to be no ordinary DC.

One straight stripe
We all met up for the first time the night before the big day in a guest house in Swellendam, where we talked strategy and tactics over dinner, while at the same time scared the living daylights out of the DC virgin. The plan was simple - when on the front, ride as fast as you can, for as long as you can, and then drop back into the pace line to recover. Repeat about 30 times, or until you died, which ever came first. After watching the speed with which some of the team members devoured supper I hoped that the same enthusiasm would be present the next morning on the bike.

The team - altogether still
After our great ride from 2010, Team 5339.co.uk had been seeded to start with the big boys of Double Century racing, which meant we started at 6:08am. Of all the teams around us, I was particularly worried about Red John, my W2W partner, who was starting ten minutes behind us. I knew that if and when he caught and passed us, I would never hear the end of it. I needed all the extra motivation I could get. As soon as the gun went we assumed the position that we'd stay in for the next 6 or so hours - one long stripe of men on machines tearing up the tarmac.

Are we there yet?
With Swellendam quickly vanishing behind us we made good progress, lured by the slower teams ahead of us. Nothing like a target or two to motivate a team of twelve cyclists. We whizzed through Suurbrak and before we knew it we were on the lower slopes of the Tradouw Pass, but already we had a problem. We'd lost 3 riders within the first hour, and the race had barely begun. The nice thing about having "The Biggest Cyclist in the World"™ on our team, among other things, was that we got to climb the 14kms of the pass at his pace, and not at the pace of some of the other mountain goats in our team. The same applied for Op de Tradouw pass, where we had our first feed stop. In addition to grabbing new bottles and snacks, Andy, the localised Brit did an equipment change.

The Andy Train
Photo courtesy of Ronelle Rust:TORQUEPICS
"If the speed goes over 50km/h, I want to be on the front"
Photo courtesy of Ronelle Rust:TORQUEPICS
Much like Stanely Ipkiss in The Mask, as soon as Andy put on his time trial helmet he went from being a strong tempo riding cyclist to an insanely fast speed loving yellow-shoed maniac. Not only did his muscles have muscles, but the muscles on his muscles had muscles. Us ordinary folk were going to be in for a ride of our lives. The next 80kms took us 1h55, and in the process Team 5339.co.uk slowly lost a few more riders. First to go was Hector (admittedly it was my fault after I gave him a dead wheel), followed by our time trialing quiet guy Chris with a flat tyre. We were down to 7 riders and I was starting to take strain.

I had to make a decision quickly - drop off now while I still could, or endure another 2 hours of pain and suffering. Just when I was about to put my plan for a gentle ride to the finish into action, I realised that I was too late. Jarryd had beaten me to it, and now I was suddenly number 6 - the worst number to be in a DC team. I persevered to the next feed stop where I hoped that some coke and a Gu would get me going again. If anything, I felt worse after that, and the thought of another 2 hours of this didn't do much to lift my mood. Thankfully Andy had taken off the time trial helmet - with my spaghetti legs we wouldn't be needing that again in a hurry.

Photo courtesy of Ronelle Rust:TORQUEPICS
Hector feeling rather happy to be off the back
Photo courtesy of Ronelle Rust:TORQUEPICS
I went through all manner of pain and torment, gave up cycling 3 times, and vowed to name my second born (I've already promised the organisers of the Swazi Frontier naming rights to my first born) something along the lines of Trevor Andy Craig Warren Andrew (or a combination thereof) should it be a boy, if I were to survive to the finish line in one piece. With some great team work, plenty of pushing, and some words of encouragement the stronger members of Team 5339.co.uk nursed me through the remaining kilometers. As soon as a gap opened there'd be a hand on my back pushing me back into contact with the rest of the team, as soon as I called for water I'd have a bottle right away.

Guess who Warren is pushing?
Photo courtesy of Ronelle Rust:TORQUEPICS
A team tradition is to go for a cool down ride on the day after the race, and as we crested the final sense of humour killing hill I remember telling Craig that he could stick his cool down ride - I wasn't interested. Somehow, I survived two of the darkest hours I have had on a bike and we finally crossed the finishing line in a slightly disappointing 5h48 and 9th overall. It's not a bad time, but we certainly were on target for something so much faster. The only saving grace was that Red John and his Anderson crew had been unable to catch us - at least a small part of my pride was intact.

Guess who Craig is pushing?
And guess who "The Biggest Cyclist in the World"™ is about to push?
As the French say "un jour sans" - a day without. I prefer Captain Craig's take on things though: "It's a bit like us being taken for a walk by a much bigger and meaner dog than we expected!". To Eurice (the DC Virgin), Grant (The Accountant), Russell (The Senior Citizen), Hector (The Gay German), Chris (The Quiet Guy), Jarryd (The Kid), Craig (The Captain), Warren (The Village Person), Trevor (The Beast), Andrew (The Silent Assassin) and Andy (The Silver Bullet) - thanks for another great DC. To Chad (The Chiropractor) and Yolanda (The Wife) - thanks for the brilliant backup - without you guys we wouldn't have gotten very far at all. See you all next year.

The finishing six
I was just happy to still be alive.
The Team and Chad


  1. You made it sound easier than it obviously actually was! Well done to all of you!

  2. Well done guys. It actually brought a tear to my eye, the pain, the humour and the script :-))

    Great DC spirit too

  3. Just to let you all know, Dane was back on his bike an hour or so after the finish - pushing ladies up the last climbs on the route.

  4. Thanx a mil to all of you who broke my virgin real hard... :-) im in for more next year if there is a spot for me on the team!! Thx for the great blog post Dane, its insane!! Well done all and take care!!

  5. With Craig moving to my part of the world, I may just be hanging with you next year (don't tell the wife please)