Friday, 19 October 2007

Posted by Velouria Posted on 12:30 | 1 comment

Battered and Bruised

The weekend started off with a road race in Worcester. Not really my sort of race - far too flat with no hills what so ever to break up the bunch. There was a gravel section on a gradual climb, and I think most guys were waiting to make their moves there.

The bunch was quite lethargic, and I just couldn't sit in the bunch, and so launched several pointless attacks. I didn't really want to get away - it was going to be a long hard ride on my own, but I wanted to have a look to see if anybody else had similar ideas. On each occasion that I tried to get off the front, the yellow jersey would close me down by himself. That made me feel quite good - he obviously thought I was enough of a threat to warrant closing me down.

The big move did happen on the gravel section, and I probably went a little early, and as a result got dropped on the incline. Nine riders got away with a 20 second gap, with 15 riders forming the chasing bunch. In 20kms we only took 10 seconds
off them. I think a couple of factors were to blame - some teams not really prepared to chase (like Maverick, as we had a rider in the break), and the general inexperience of some of the riders when it came to riding a pace line.

It ended up being a sprint for 10th position, where I got 12th. Not too bad.


Wow - I never noticed this view when I was riding.

The Apple Blossom. I thought the plan was to ride with the ladies today, but my dear Epic partner had other ideas. The race started slowly as we entered some single track just after the start and it got quite congested. Once we got out onto the farm roads, Craig decided to set the pace, and that was the last time I was in front of him. He towed me around Paul Cluver Estate for about 2 hours - inflicting serious pain. At one point my nose started bleeding, but I didn't get much sympathy. I can't recall much about the race - I just see Craig's rear wheel in my memory. We did come across a herd of cows that were running obstruction for the leaders. Craig had great fun herding them out of the way, while I took the time to recover slightly - to catch my breath, and wipe away some of the blood.

Amazing - you can't see my tongue dragging on the ground.

I hope the Epic isn't going to be 8 days of this. While I was on the limit, it looked like Craig still had quite a bit left in the tank. This is possibly revenge for Lourendsford and Citrusdal.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Posted by Velouria Posted on 14:02 | 2 comments


Once again Lourensford made its appearance on the cycling calendar. I treat every outing at Lourensford with a bit of trepidation, as I have suffered plenty of times there before. Just ask Tim. I think he fears it even more than I do, and that is saying something.

Me, on my own, concentrating
I had spoken to the guys who laid out the course, and I had been told that it was going to be an easier route than in previous years. So maybe I wouldn't cough up blood, or loose a kidney, but those weren't exactly reassuring words.

Yet again, it was threatening to rain - Lourensford without the wet is toast without the Marmite - they are just meant to go together.

Me, on my own, dodging some wetness

Craig and I agreed to treat this like another training ride, but I was already suffering on the 10 minute ride I did to get to the event from my house, so I knew that today I was going to be the weaker partner. As usual, Craig was trying to race the leaders, and I was hanging on for dear life. Slowly but surely a gap opened between the two of us, and got bigger and bigger. To Craig's credit, he did wait once, and I did tell him to go on without me. Which he did.

Five minutes into the race, and no Craig

I was racing my own race, and starting to feel quite good. The climbing suited me, and the ride was not too technical.

With almost all hope of ever seeing Craig again after being on my own for over 2 hours, I caught a glimpse of him up ahead. Slowly but surely the gap started to close, and while he will tell you he was waiting for me, I like to think that I got some legs towards the end of the ride.

Me, on my own, suffering

When I did eventually catch him, I had to dish out some payback, and we pushed hard to the finish. I almost lost my partner twice in the last 5 kms, not to him getting lost, but to two very near accidents. Craig (with a pair of very large eyes from a near crash) and I crossed the line in 3:17, in 34th position. Not bad going considering how bad I felt before the ride.

Thanks to my personal photographer Theunis for all the photos. I don't remember seeing photographers in half the places that I have photos from. They are very sneaky indeed. Check out

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Posted by Velouria Posted on 14:33 | 2 comments

Riding a road bike off road

After the training ride I had two weeks ago, I was not looking forward to the first league ride of the season. I had suffered like crazy for 3 hours in the wind and the rain, and the prospect of actually having to race in the wind had me doubting my abilities.

To add to my worries, the organisers of the Geco Durbanville Children's Home funride had decided to throw in a gravel section of about 1.7kms. How could I take Roxy, my delicate and beloved road bike, across such a section, and still expect her to speak to me afterwards? Just in case, I bought new tyres, and gave Roxy a good cleaning the day before the race (like giving a death-row prisoner his last meal).

After not getting my full 8 hours of sleep the night before, and probably drinking too much wine at Yolanda's birthday party, I was awoken by the sound of a howling South Easter. Now I really didn't want to ride - all I needed was a valid excuse, but none was forthcoming.

For the first time in ages, we had a neutral start as we wound our way through the residential areas of Durbanville. This meant that I got 10 minutes to nicely warm up before the racing began. It was good to have all three Maverick riders together again, and quite surprisingly, our little team was looking quite strong (all the hot shots are riding Elite this year).

Christian in his Maverick kit

With about 15kms on the clock, a break of four riders went off the front of the bunch - including a Maverick rider. And that was pretty much the end of the racing for us for the next 60kms. No one was quite prepared to chase the break down, and we were quite happy to let it get away.

Fast forward to about 75kms - I was starting to get a little bored with the slow pace, and I wanted to stretch my legs as we started riding over the rolling hills coming back into Durbanville. I had decided to ride quite hard on the gravel section - firstly to get rid of some of the riders in the bunch, and secondly to give myself a head start up the last two climbs of the day.

I was first onto the gravel, and found a nice line on the extreme right hand side, and really went quite hard. Two other riders came with me, and we quickly had a gap on the rest of the bunch. The gravel got a little scary as it went downhill and the speed started to pick up, but both Roxy and I made it over in one piece. I climbed Contermanskloof at a tempo pace, and was eventually joined by 5 or 6 other riders.

I am the little yellow dot on the extreme right - 3rd wheel.
Look at the gap we have :)

Once we got to the bottom of Vissershok, I could see that Cobus, my teammate, had been dropped by the break and was limping up on his own. At the steep section of Vissers the first move went, but I wasn't (or couldn't) follow it. Shortly afterwards, two other riders went, and I decided I had to go. Looking over to Marius, I told him we had to go too, and all he could do was respond that his legs were cramping. I went, and tried to get into a rhythm, which is hard up Vissers. I eventually got over the top about 150m behind the other two chaps, and it took me the next 3kms to close the gap down and catch them.

Marius limping up Vissers, with Donkey for company.

Four of us were now racing for 5th place. I went early, thinking I would soften the other two up for Cobus, only to realise that Cobus was finished, and I just really softened him up even more. The other two riders got to a traffic circle before me, and with 500m left it was going to be quite hard to get past them.

I ended up coming 7th in the SV, and more importantly, never really felt like I was under too much strain for the whole ride. A great way to start the Spring League.

(I hear there is a gravel section in the next league ride too :) )

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Posted by Velouria Posted on 11:09 | No comments

Oranges and Midges!

In our quest to have the perfect Epic next year, Craig and I headed off to Citrusdal for some "team building". Last week was supposed to be a team ride, but we know how that turned out. Our aim was to ride together, and get some back to back racing in.

It is rather sad to see an event like this so poorly attended - the riding was great - the venue is scenic, and the organiser's enthusiasm can't be beaten.

As always, Craig started like a rat up a drainpipe, and I was left trailing a lung trying to catch him. I got tangled up with some slower riders in a very sandy patch, only to see Craig disappearing into the distance.

It took me about 15 minutes to catch him (although I do think he waited), and from there on we set about trying to get into a rhythm to catch Marius up ahead.

There was loads of climbing, mostly up rocky jeep track, but with the odd sandy bit thrown in for good measure. On one of the big climbs, I could see the gap to Marius dropping - we started out about 2 minutes behind him, and by the time we went over the top, the gap was down to 45 seconds.

We both had a couple of hairy moments on some of the descents - my back wheel tried to overtake my front wheel, and Craig decided that he didn't like the jeep track and veered off into the fynbos - making his trail. I chose to follow the trail.

We thought we had got lucky when we saw Marius trying to pump a tyre. We stopped and lent him a bomb. As we were about to leave, I discovered that I too had a puncture, and Uncle Stan wasn't going to fix it, so we had to put in a tube. This gave Marius time to open up a gap on us again.

With more climbing and bundu bashing through fynbos (I still have splinters in my hands, arms and legs) we were finally greeted with some appreciated downhill. And to make it even better - we could see Marius in the distance. I had a target to aim at. As we got to Marius, he stopped and I lent him my pump to do some running repairs. We thought we had him now, but all credit to him, he chased hard and was able to hop onto our wheels.

We tried to ride him off, but we didn't do it particularly well - we had discussed it before the race, but when the pressure was on, we lacked in the brain department, and never really threatened Marius. As a result, he was able to out sprint us both on the line.

All in all, a good days racing - we both learned a lot, and had a good workout.

That afternoon we cruised Citrusdal, eventually finding the local rugby match to be the only thing of interest in the town. We spent the afternoon watching the locals pummel Tulbagh, while swarms of midges tried to suck us dry. I also learned a couple of new insults from the locals. The phrase of the moment is "Jy is n gemorse!"

Day Two dawned, and although we hadn't entered the race, we were going to sneak onto the course. Plenty climbing awaited us, but we worked well together, until I punctured again. We then had to play catch up and just as we were about to get in front again, we missed a turn (I was trying to catch a guy who wasn't in the race). More climbing awaited us, and it felt like we climbed for hours - before we finally popped out in a wheat field. That was a new experience for me - I have never ridden in a wheat field before. A couple more stops to attend to my tyre before we got to fly down the old pass back to the finish line. We took day two much more at Epic pace, and it was good to have a hard 4 hour workout.

While all this was going on, the wives were busy racing the Tour de Vino. Yolanda had some mechanical problems - which are naturally all my fault, and so their time was a little slower than expected, but judging from the photo, fun was had all round.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Posted by Velouria Posted on 12:26 | 3 comments

We have a winner!

Can you believe it - I won a race. And I am not talking about winning a race just because the other guy's bum wore out after 21 hours of riding. No - I won a race because I was able to ride away from the competition.

Just to clarify - most of the competition weren't at this race, leaving the competition to be two guys from Hermanus, and Craig, my Epic partner with the freshly broken (and almost healed) neck. But I still rode away from them.

The initial plan had been to do this race with Craig as a team, as it covers part of next year's Epic route. I didn't really feel like racing, and was quite prepared for a nice outing in the Stanford country side.

We set off at a reasonable pace, and I quickly tucked into 3rd position behind the Hermanus representatives. I was going to ride on their wheels, and maybe out sprint them towards the end. Craig was right behind me. Very quickly, the Hermanus representation halved, and suddenly Craig and I had the upper hand. I was feeling good, so after about 20 minutes of riding I went to the front and set the pace, with Craig hoping into 3rd place. As the road went up, I still felt good, and didn't mind setting the pace, but I could feel the Hermanus rider right behind me. On a short downhill, the Hermanus rider left both of us for dead, and I realised that if we wanted to get beat him, we would have to make him hurt on the hills.

On the next bit of steep grassy up hill I put in a hard effort, and immediately a gap opened up. I eased off a little to let Craig get across to me, and then carried on pushing hard. (All the while, scenes from various Tour de France's were flashing through my head - all I needed to do was give the Lance "Look").

Craig and I then rode on, getting to the bottom of the big climb together. Craig was not supposed to be racing, so he was going to take it easy from here on - we still had about 2 hours of racing left. I kept on going - I was feeling great, and the hill was my kind of climb - not too steep, and very loooong.

I had a motorbike marshal for company - and he would give me updates on where I was, where Craig was, what lay ahead etc. I did want to kill him when he pointed to a hill and said the small climb ahead was all that remained. It was like a mountain, and damn steep. I had to walk sections!

Although I couldn't see anyone behind me, I wasn't going to take any chances, and so I pushed on to the end - and equaled the course record in the process, with Craig coming in in second place - 10 minutes later.

What a great little ride - well laid out, well marked, very scenic and a lovely prize of a weekend away in a cottage in the area. Just a pity the race wasn't better attended (but then I probably wouldn't have won!)

I have agreed to let Craig win the next one - and he has agreed to make a real race of it!

Friday, 24 August 2007

Posted by Velouria Posted on 13:08 | 1 comment

Trans Baviaans

Registration at the high school

For the first time ever, the start was not a balls to the wall affair, and I hadn't lost a lung by the time we turned off the tar onto the road that heads through the Baviaans.
The first section of gravel

My partner was very keen to ride hard, and I could see that if I wasn't careful, I might just make checkpoint one and then have to call it quits (This being my year of riding on experience rather than fitness).

We got into a bunch moving at a nice pace, with a view of the leaders as they quickly left us in a cloud of dust. We both took our turns on the front, and as is often the case, when we would pull over to let someone else take a turn, suddenly everyone was too tired to contribute. I haven't ridden in such a quiet bunch in ages. I reckon the chaps felt that if they weren't talking, nobody would notice them and ask them to take a turn on the front.
Dropping into the kloof

Getting a bit tired of all this cat and mouse, my partner and I decided to head off on our own - leaving the safety of the pack behind us. From checkpoint two to checkpoint 3 we went quite hard, and climbed "The Fangs" quite well, all the while opening the gap on that "lazy bunch" behind us. We got so caught up in the moment that we missed checkpoint 3, and carried on for abut 2kms before realising that something was wrong. We turned around, and headed back, and as we got to the checkpoint, the rest of our "lazy bunch" were coming in.
Early days still - lots of riding to come
The second checkpoint - so far so good

Feeling quite annoyed, and with the adrenaline flowing, we tried to rush the checkpoint. Mix juice, get the token, get back on the bike. The only problem was that this was supposed to be our feeding stop, and I almost completely forgot to eat solid food. Back on the bike things were ok, legs were a little tired, tummy was a little squishy, but nothing unexpected. My partner took a tumble in the loooooong river crossing - we saw people ahead of us carrying their bikes, and we decided to ride through the river. With about 5 meters to go I heard this big splash sound followed by a gulp as my partner disappeared from view. Thankfully I survived a similar fate.
The long river crossing - John went swimming here

As soon as we started climbing Bergplaas it felt like I had an alien in my belly trying to eat its way out. And the last thing I felt like doing was eating. I tried to crawl up Bergplaas in my granny, but that wasn't working for me either, so for the first time in 4 years, I got off my bike, and walked up the steeper sections. I am not proud of it, and nothing hurts more than seeing the remnants of the "lazy bunch" come crawling by with that smirk on their face.
At least I wasn't the only one pushing

Struggling through my personal hell, we eventually arrived at checkpoint 4, only for my partner to decide to see how many times he could wrap his chain around his crank in such a way that it wouldn't come off. I was so grateful for that. It gave me time to eat and drink and try to find some life in my legs. My partner was particularly good in forcing some soup down my throat (which I think he later regretted - more about that later).

By my partner's own admission, he is not mechanically minded, so I was more than impressed to watch him untangle his chain armed only with a screw driver. Just to prove his newfound mechanical ability he even broke his chain, and took out the offending link and replaced it with a quick link.

With both of us feeling better, lights on the bikes, and change of clothes we headed off down Bergplaas - in the light. My first time in the light. That almost made the suffering worth it.

My legs came back to me nice and strongly, and from the bottom of Bergplaas to the end of the ride I repaid my partner for pushing my bike up that big hill. We picked up most of the occupants in the "lazy bunch" - one by one, and you should have seen the smirk on my face as we came flying past.

We finally made it to checkpoint 5, and the first checkpoint where we got to see our backup crew. I reckon they had been waiting for us all day, practicing their routine, because when we got there, our bikes where whisked away, there were chairs for us to sit it, the tea was hot, the snacks were tasty, and they even dished out just the right amount of TLC. A Formula One pit crew has nothing on Bonte and Craig. Five minutes later we were back on the road with Jeffery's getting closer all the time.

The neverender was just that, a never ending climb, but still a nice ride, and we were riding well. Craig accompanied us on this leg, and succeeded in constantly dropping me up this climb. Either he is super strong, or we were just very tired.

We got to the finish (after almost getting lost in Jeffery's Bay - I still am not sure which road leads to the camp site) in just under 12 hours - 11:58, and in 18th (16th after disqualifications) position overall. (We almost beat our seconders to the line from checkpoint 6 - to say that I suffer from white line fever is an understatement!)

Another great year, and with weather like we had, one of the easiest. There are a couple of issues with this ride, and the organisers have to be careful about not chasing away the MTBers with high costs, but I will be back, at least once more.
(All photos off, as Bonte drove over her camera!)

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Posted by Velouria Posted on 09:57 | 1 comment


Well, here I am, at work, on Women's day. And the reason is because I don't have enough leave to live my lifestyle. And my wife is feeling all empowered and attending a women's workshop on how to ride a bike.

To make matters worse, I am a little fragile this morning after last night's "surprise" party. A very nice evening.