Thursday 26 January 2012

Posted by Velouria Posted on 16:31 | 2 comments

Oak Valley 24hr 2012

Courtesy of
14th December: Just entered for the Oak Valley 24hr. Solo. I suddenly feel like a prisoner on death row. What was I thinking? I'm getting too old for this. At least I got the early bird (aka cheapskate) discount. On the positive side, it surely can't be as bad as my Double Century.

24th December: Just got back from a 5 hour ride, having bonked spectacularly after 3 hours. It was like the Double Century all over again, except there was no one to push me. Forget about tomorrow being Christmas Day - I'm just glad it's a rest day.

26th December: Another 5hr ride. Didn't bonk this time - I suspect the 7 mince pies and 2 helpings of Christmas pudding yesterday might be the reason. Probably explains why I climbed like a lead balloon. Time for a compact crank perhaps (or a diet).

1st January: Happy New Year. Twenty days until my date with the Grim Reaper. I did a 6 hour ride yesterday and didn't see a single cyclist on the road. Gave all the merry holiday makers on Strand beach me best death stare - they seemed to be having far too much fun. My plans to have a nap in the car last night at the New Year's party were foiled, but as the dedicated driver I made sure we left just after 12. Thanks goodness for spmall miracles - another rest day today. Can't get too excited though - another 5hr ride tomorrow.

2nd January: I hate my bike. My bum hates me. My dogs (and wife) treat me like a stranger in my own house.

5th January: Started stalking potential competitors, while at the same time keeping a low profile. Thank goodness for Twitter and Facebook - it's so much easier being a stalker these days. Found a route profile and am suddenly quite nervous. An 11km lap with 250m of climbing. Really regretting all those Christmas pies right now. Time for us to diet (us being myself AND my bike).

Oak Valley 24hr Lap

8th January: Completed my last big weekend before the 24hr. Saw last year's 2nd placed solo lady out on the road in the middle of nowhere, so at least I'm not the only antisocial person in the Winelands. Also saw the beginning of the Argus First Timers/New Year's Resolutionists beginning their training/get fit plans. I'm glad to see that tekkies and T-shirts are still the apparel of choice for beginners. (Mental note: be sure to destroy all photos of my first Argus!)

11th January: Where. Are. My. Lights??? Last seen just after Trans Baviaans.

12th January: Found my lights, along with a pair of missing (now mouldy and rank) arm warmers and a stranger's pair of underpants. Don't ask - your guess is as good as mine...
Ready to roll
14th January: Earned some brownie points doing backup for my wife at Attakwas. Going to come in handy next week. Looked like a bit of a tit riding back along the route, but when the coach says 3 hours, I do 3 hours...

20th January: Frantic search for new tyres. Settled on Racing Ralphs. Need all the raciness I can get. Bike serviced, snacks bought, kit washed, lights charged, bags packed and bum cream purchased. The 24hr is a go!

21st January

6:30am: It's impossible to sleep more than 10 hours - time to get up. Best thing about the 24hr - double helping of FutureLife for breakfast.

8:30am: On our way to Oak Valley. Can't believe how much stuff we've packed for one night away.

10:30am: Gazebo pitched. Decided not to pitch tent. Didn't want to tempt fate.
Single track heaven
11:30am: Changed into cycling kit, bum cream applied. Had a motivational chat with Nelly (my bike) - she looks after me and I'll look after her.

11:45am: Race briefing. Felt like I was back in high school listening to the headmaster. Meurant may have missed his calling as a school principal - no wonder he channels that authority into some really great, but equally tough trails around the Western Cape. A fantastic turnout - in excess of 300 participants overall and over 100 insane people going solo.
And we're off
12:00pm: Le Mans style start. It's rather easy to spot the solo riders in the crowd - I've perfected the loping amble. Slightly faster than walking pace, but slower than a jog. Anyone faster than that was riding in a team, and anyone equally slow or slower was doing it solo.

12:35pm: First lap done. What a fantastic course. First half requires a bit of hard work up the climb, but you're easily distracted by the climbing single track. The second half is pure smile inducing awesomeness. Fast flowing single track bobbing and weaving between the trees - mountain biking at its very best. Legs felt great, everything appears to be working well. Seems like there is a sneaky photographer behind every tree, jumping out with camera in hand when you least expect it. Modern day ninjas.

16:18pm: 7 laps done, seven bottles of juice consumed. Bum cream reapplied. 37 degrees out on the course. Have had several close encounters with cows. Rather ironically we still have half an Oak Valley cow in our deep freezer. I was tempted to mention this to them next time they got too close but decided against it. Having one of their friends for supper twice a week might just spur them on to attack me.

17:01pm: Near race and marriage ending argument with my wife (or as Meurant calls her, the best technical support in the business) over the flavour of Gu she was giving me. After forcing down several Tri-Berry, Jet Blackberry and Peanut Butter flavoured sachets I lost it when I got yet another Tri-Berry flavoured one. All I wanted was my favourite Double Espresso flavoured Gu. Perhaps I was going to be pitching the tent after all...
Time for a snack
18:30pm: Discovered I had a granny gear at the front. The climbs are suddenly a bit more manageable. The time keepers are playing silly buggers with me - they won't tell me what's happening in the race. Good thing Tree John wrote the timing software and was able to sneak me some race info. Things are looking good. I might be in first place. Or third. In other news, the wind has started to drop - I'm upset for two reasons. It was nice and cooling, and was doing a good job of blowing us up the climbs.

19:12pm: Stopped for supper and a change of shirt. Was beginning to smell like my long lost arm warmers. Applied more bum cream for good measure. Fitted my underpants flavoured lights while trying to touch them as little as possible. Sunset is imminent.
Fresh gloves
21:50pm: JRR Tolkein was onto something with his Ents. Trees definitely move at night. It feels like they've all taken one step closer to the trail. Rather intimidating. Saw several frogs on the trail. Made sure I wasn't hallucinating and they were in fact real. They have a deluded sense of toughness - quite prepared to take on a bicycle wheel.

12:00am: Halfway. 17 laps done. Very quiet and lonely out on the course. The odd racing snake makes a brief appearance before vanishing down the trail - rear red light blinking faintly. Almost rode over a mouse with the indecisiveness of a guinea fowl crossed with a squirrel. Had to actually dismount while he made up his mind about which way he wanted to go.
An indecisive mouse
2:03am: Found a crazy solo single speeder have a wrestling match with his bike up a hill. At least I'm not that crazy, and at least I'm not struggling that much. Suddenly very grateful to the guy who invented the derailleur and gears. Asked my wife for lube - she handed me the bum cream. I was talking about bike lube for my dry chain.

2:52am: Had a close encounter with a Tree Ent. I swear it deliberately stuck out a branch and grabbed my bar ends. Quite surprised by my cat like reflexes so early in the morning (I put this down to the switch to the Double Espresso Gu flavour). Pity no one was about to see my fantastic bike handling skills, or witness the evil Tree Ent.
Check the cows out
4:28am: The sky is getting lighter - sunrise will be any minute now. Couldn't help thinking of all the other athletes about to wake up - Half Iron Man and the Cape Cobra. I'm secretly jealous of their choice in outdoor activity. In other news, I suspect various parts of my body of planning a pain protest. I think my bum is the ring leader.

5:17am: It is light enough to ride without lights. Imagine my surprise upon discovering the cows were in exactly the same place as they were before the sun set. They'd been watching us all night long. I feel violated by the voyeur cows. Time for more bum cream. Is it possible to apply too much?
In the zone
7:44am: Have had Robbie Williams' "I don't want to Rock DJ" stuck in my head for 2 hours now. I suspect the other competitors are resorting to nasty psychological warfare tactics. The worst thing is that I only know one line of the song. The course is suddenly as busy as the N1 on a work day. And I'm the overloaded 18 wheeler truck grinding up Durbanville Hill, obstructing the traffic.

8:34am: Just did a whole lap with the hiccoughs. Banana flavoured. I haven't had a banana for 6 hours. Some vindictive social rider is making bacon and eggs in the camp. There should be rules about torturing the solo riders like this. The finish is almost within sight.

9:21am: Some windgat race snake wearing world champ colours came flying passed me. Like there'd be any world champs at a little 24hr event in Grabouw. Pffft!
Spot the World Champ behind me
10:26am: No wonder I am so slow - there are bits on my bike that I am not using. Like the big chain blade, the second water bottle cage. And the saddle. The protest has escalated into a full blown strike. My bum refuses to go near my saddle. In other news, in an attempt to let a faster rider past I fell into a bramble thicket - bum first. Once in, I was quite prepared to spend the rest of the day there - getting out brought tears to my eyes.

11:31am: Last lap done. Finished. Just waiting for 12pm to cross the line. Ignoring all the encouragement to do one last lap. Names have been taken and I'll be lodging a complaint of attempted murder against all those egging me on. Far more focused on getting a beer. And sitting.
Bum and saddle are no longer friends
12:01pm: 30 laps completed, 330kms, 6890m of ascent, 17 451 KCal burned. I took in the following: 30 bottles of juice/water, 4 litres of coke, 2 litres of Lucozade, 4 Woolworths milkshakes/yoghurt drinks, 15 baby potatoes, 12 Gu sachets, 4 bananas, one sandwich, one cappuccino, a mouthful of pasta and 17 airborne bugs.

12:17pm: Attempting to shower. Discovered several new features on my bum. I'm either growing horns or they are blisters. Going commando.

12:30pm: Been lusting after a Spur burger and chips all night long, only to be told that they are packing up. Tried to explain that I'd been a little busy for the last 24hrs. Ended up going to the LimeBar for beer instead.
Happiness is beer and a chair
1:12pm: Car is packed largely due to the best technical support crew around (my wife). I sat down to tie a shoelace and stayed there.

1:30pm: Prize giving. Lots of weary bodies with big smiles. On the smile scale the event was clearly a great success. Seems like a tough battle for 1st place was had in all categories. Except that crazy single speeder team - no one was crazy enough to challenge them. The best 24hr event I have been to yet - the course alone is enough to forgive any other oversights by Dirtopia. Good work. Turns out the windgat race snake wearing world champ colours is in fact a Ralph Näf - 2006 World Marathon Champ - out on a training ride. He won the 3hr race.
The top 3 solo riders
2:32pm: Fell asleep on the car trip home. Drooled down my cheek. Car is unpacked, and by unpacked I mean all the stuff is now taking up space in the lounge. A cup of tea in the bath, bum damage inspection and time for a nap. Taking tomorrow off - is it normal leave or sick leave?
Even Nelly took strain
8:07pm: Pizza in bed, time to catch up on missing sleep. Will be sleeping on my stomach tonight. Good night.
One dirty right leg
All professional looking photos courtesy of Chris at PhotoBay