Wednesday 25 November 2015

Posted by Velouria Posted on 16:53 | 2 comments

Double Century 2015

It was never going to be easy to beat the year we had in 2014, but Team HotChillee were up for the challenge. Would we be able to crack the podium for the third year running at the Coronation Double Century?

Team HotChillee Mixed
Captain Craig, our fearless leader, spent many months scrutinising team lists and shuffling riders around to create the perfect balance of power, speed, endurance, and above all, team comradery. Our eventual line up consisted of a handful of diesel engines, several work horses, a couple of youngsters, a few wise heads, and 3 rather talented young ladies. We were a rather diverse collection of people, united with a common cause - we were going after the mixed title!

Hector The Protector and our amazing backup crew
One straight stripe
As per usual, the first time we met up as a team was the night before for the traditional pre-race dinner and drinks at Tredici in Swellendam, followed by a quick team briefing. In hindsight, we couldn't have been more wrong with our race day tactics, but more about that later.

Bird's eye view
Joining our team for the first time was Lucky Luke, aka The Wattage Cottage. A laid back guy off the bike, but a monster on it. Our challenge was to harness that monster for the greater good. We also had a pair of twins join us - Corne and Rico, two youngsters whom I still cannot tell apart. Finally, there were the ladies, and the VIPs of our team. We'd recruited the services of Carmen Buchacher, an exceptionally quick Capetonian with a string of results that most of us can only dream of. Our final team members were two young, exceptionally talented young ladies with experience of racing overseas. Kyara Stijns of Team Liv-Plantur was our foreign import, accompanied by her friend and rising local star, Catherine Colyn.

A helping hand
While the prospect of 202 kilometers in a twelve man team can be rather daunting, Team HotChillee was rather more concerned with the weather, as was every other team for the week leading up to the event. The forecast alternated from most certainly miserable, to decidedly despicable. It was going to be cold. It was going to be windy. And it was going to be wet. Welcome to summer in The Cape. But, it was going to be the same for everyone.


With our customary pre-race photo done, we rolled down to the start. This effectively being the first time the team had ridden together. And as we stood around waiting for our start time, the guys on Team HotChillee Mixed got a glimpse at how different it is to be a woman cyclist. As is often the case, pre-race nerves dictate that your bladder incessantly demands to be emptied. For a guy, this is no problem. You simply lean your bike somewhere, hop over a railing, and find the nearest tree/fence/lamppost. Two minutes tops! Ladies on the other hand have to locate the rows of porta loos, stand in the queue and hope that the next one available is "clean". Once in the porta loo, without going into details, they somehow get the required kit off and then on again in the confines of said "clean" porta loo without touching too many surfaces. The whole process can take in excess of 10 minutes. Much like destroying the Death Star, you pretty much only get one shot before the start gun goes.

Another beautiful bike
Urinary issues aside, Team HotChillee Mixed lined up on the start line to the cheers of a handful of supporters who were bold enough to brave the weather. And then we were off. Captain Craig took it upon himself to lead us out of town at a Goldilocks pace - not too fast, not too slow, just right. Almost immediately we realised that our male-centric race strategy was not going to work, and that instead of riding on pure testosterone, the guys in the team would have to engage their brains as well. Which is often easier said than done. Our ladies were our VICs (Very Important Cyclists), our number one priority, and we had to do everything to look after them. And to our credit we quickly got the hang of things, hiding the ladies from the wind, keeping the pace steady, and offering a helping nudge here and there up the climbs.

▮ ▮ ▮ 
And the brain work didn't end there. Our race tactics were in a constant state of flux too, and sensing that a spot on the podium was slipping away, Captain Craig made the bold call to ▮▮▮▮ ▮ ▮▮▮ ▮▮▮▮ ▮▮▮ ▮▮▮▮, ▮▮ ▮▮▮▮ ▮▮ ▮▮▮▮  ▮▮▮▮▮  ▮▮▮▮▮, ▮▮▮▮▮  ▮▮▮ ▮▮▮ ▮ ▮▮▮▮▮▮  ▮▮▮▮▮  ▮▮▮  ▮▮▮▮▮  ▮▮  ▮▮▮ ▮▮▮▮▮ ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ (text redacted so as not to give away Team secrets - Captain Craig). And boy was it a good plan, putting us right back into contention, while at the same time giving our ladies a chance to recover as we rolled into the first checkpoint.

Final checkpoint strategy session

As has become the norm, our backup crew did a fine job, not only in attending to our nutritional needs, but also massaging our egos and offering gentle words of encouragement. A quick head count revealed that we'd lost one of the twins (I'm still not sure which one) due to illness. I hadn't even noticed, as the remaining twin had silently assumed his brother's responsibilities and it indeed felt like they were both still there. Our ladies were still in fine spirits, but if anyone thinks they were having a free ride, one look at the commitment and determination on their faces would reveal the effort they were putting in. Without a single complaint or utterance.

And the rain came down
If you're a person with a fragile ego, then a mixed team is not the place for you. If you can't handle being dropped (twice) by ladies on a downhill, or you can't deal with being pushed uphill by a female pro, rather stick to an all men's team, or Scrabble or something. Luckily, Team HotChillee Mixed had no such problems, our single objective uniting us.

A total team effort
Back on the road, Hector set about correcting a nightmare that has been haunting for two years when he got dropped out of the feed zone in 2013. To make amends, he almost single handedly towed the 10 remaining members of Team HotChillee Mixed into Robertson. From there, Captain Craig and I had a quick chat and set about implementing part two of our sneaky plan, only to hear Dr Dylan whinge for the next 10 kilometres about it being too soon. Our plan consisted of  ▮▮▮▮ ▮▮▮▮▮ ▮▮▮▮▮▮ ▮▮▮ ▮▮▮▮▮▮ ▮▮ ▮▮▮ ▮▮▮▮ ▮▮ ▮▮▮▮ ▮▮▮ ▮▮▮▮▮ ▮▮ ▮▮ ▮▮▮▮▮ ▮ ▮▮▮▮ ▮▮ ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ (redacted again, more Team secrets - Captain Craig). And it worked!

The pusher getting pushed
As we rolled into the second stop, so to did the weather. The heavens opened with ice cold rain, prompting us to cut our stop short to get going as soon as possible. Most of the team hunkered down, grimacing behind their sunglasses, focussing on the objective, except for our Dutch import Kyara, who seemed to flourish in the miserable conditions. The worse the weather got, the stronger she rode, culminating in her taking a few turns to push her male teammates (here's looking at you Dr David).

The birthday girl
Just as we were making good progress, disaster struck - Catherine's gears gave up the ghost, leaving her stuck in the biggest gear at the back. While the modern trend of high cadence, "Chris Froome" style cycling is all the rage, no amount of cadence was going to keep Catherine in the bunch. Enter Hector the Protector and his magic pockets. Through sheer willpower, the team pushed and pulled and nursed our VIC up and down the remaining hills, finally crossing the line 5h39.

All for one and one for all
While it wasn't enough for the top step of the podium, Team HotChillee Mixed secured 3rd place, and in doing so, kept our hot streak of podium places going. We now had two reasons to celebrate, the second being Catherine's birthday, complete with cake and all.

Happy Birthday Catherine

Post race chill out zone
The dust has barely settled on another successful Coronation Double Century, but we're already looking forward to next year. In the meantime, it's back to the drawing board for another year of scheming and planning.

Third place



  1. Good Job Dane!
    I will have to ply Captain Craig with beer to get team tactics out of him.

  2. Nice work guys and girls!

    I like the way you pretend that Captain Craig actually has plans and strategies and stuff. Sure to keep the opposition off balance for years to come! ;-)