Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 16:20 | No comments

Wiesenhof 2007

I was surfing the net and found this - quite a cool pic.

Thanks to Louis Roussouw.
Posted by Velouria Posted on 15:04 | No comments

Test your skills

And if anyone can get past level 8 with the boxes - please let me know.
Posted by Velouria Posted on 14:59 | No comments

Pain and Suffering!

Well, the downside of doing a 24hr is the total lack of ability on the bike for the next month or so. And this year was no exception.

I chose to skip the first league ride of the year, and instead rode with Yolanda and Bonte in the SWIFT (Sporty Women in Full Training) league. The race was the Cape Cobra, and consisted of going over every hill on the Cape peninsula at least once. Three of the 4 ladies entered into the SWIFT league turned up, so a podium was guaranteed - they just had to fight it out for the order. To make matters worse, it was probably one of the windiest days I have ever experienced - this was not going to be a pleasant ride.

It might have looked like Tim, Craig and I were helping the ladies out, but in truth, I think Tim and I were just trying our best to hang on. My legs were nowhere, and my body still ached.

Four hours later, we prevailed, Bonte got second place, with Yolanda third. We had all survived.

The next week saw the local Breakfast ride on the Saturday, and the aptly named Roller Coaster on the Sunday. I was looking forward to the Breakfast ride - I wanted a good hard ride to see where my legs were. I got dropped immediately from the start, and had to work quite hard to get back on to the bunch, only to face the rather daunting task of trying to hang on to the bunch up the Lord Charles hill. Somehow I managed it, and slowly things started to feel better. I worked extremely hard for the rest of the race, and my legs felt good. It is a good thing the ride was only 60kms long, because I don't think there was much left in my legs after the finish. I spent another hour and a half looking after/pushing Steph in 40C+ temperatures. I was buggered afterwards, and spent the rest of the day on the couch!

The Roller Coaster was going to be another ride of survival - I didn't expect much - there are far to many nasty hills in that race for me. I got dropped 5 times from the bunch, and was able to ride back on 4 times. The fifth time I self destructed, and limped the last 20kms home pretty much on my own.

The next weekend saw an old favourite - the Medallion - a ride around Stellenbosch and Paarl. I had set myself two simple goals - to finish in the bunch, and to try to climb with the front group. I succeeded at the first - finishing 28th, in the bunch. Unfortunately, I was unable to climb with the front bunch, but did find myself caught between the front bunch and the chase bunch with none other than my Epic partner. Which was quite encouraging - we seem to be at the same level of fitness.

The rest of the ride was rather uneventful, and the final dash for the line got some people quite worked up, like the guy just in front of me who decided to take a tumble, forcing me off the road.

Anyway - I am a little sick at the moment, so the riding is taking a bit of a back seat.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 11:44 | 3 comments

The Defense.

I had been dreading this day for 365 days - the defense of my 24hr title. The week before the event I was a nervous wreck - I couldn't sleep at night, and it felt like I had a death sentence hanging over my head. When Saturday finally did dawn, it all seemed to disappear, much like the worries of a person being led off to the gallows.

Once again the Cape weather played along, and it was a scorchingly hot summer's day that greeted us as we arrived at Wiesenhof at 9 in the morning. We unpacked the car, put up the Maverick gazebo, and then waited. And waited.

Finally 12 o' clock came, and the defense of my 24hr title began. I had planned to ride my own race, take it easy, be consistent, listen to my body. That all went out the window when I heard that I was lying down in 7th or 8th place after a couple of laps - how could the defending champ be so far off the pace. I got caught up in the race, and was riding way too hard, and doing some stupid things out on the course. On the third lap, at one particularly horrible little bit of single track I went into the corner too quickly, went over a bump, and plopped over the handle bars. I was fine, but in the process my front wheel had burped. I tried to catch it with my pump, but I was too late, the tire had deflated too much and was no longer sealing against the rim. Time to put in a tube. This little incident only added to matters, and I tried to make up for the 7 minutes that I had lost by riding hard. What a stupid idea!

The first six hours were terrible. Nothing felt right - I was hurting, and unable to get into a rhythm. If I had had an excuse there and then, I would have quit, but cruelly none was forthcoming. And I didn't get much sympathy from my backup crew either.

As usual, Yolanda was my backup (or pit bitch as they are called), and Jayne (of JailBreak fame) had volunteered her physio services. In addition, they had met up with the paramedics that had hauled Yolanda and her broken femur off the mountain in the Stellenbosch MTB ride. I had a whole little fan club cheering me on lap after lap. The backup team were brilliant, force feeding me, massaging my legs, ignoring my moaning, mixing countless bottles of juice (I think I drank in excess of 35 bottles of juice), and sussing out the competition.

This year's course was a bit more technical than last years, and a bit tougher on the body, but this year I was riding Svalbard, so things probably equaled out. Meurant had added 3 rather large drop offs in the middle of the lap, which threatened to catch me out each lap. This was a course where you had to concentrate for the entire lap, otherwise something bad was going to happen, and did happen. Gavin (of 24hr World Champs fame) lost it on a piece of single track and gashed himself up quite nicely and buckled his front wheel. At around 2am, I rode into a tree I didn't even see, and before I knew it I was lying on my back in a cloud of dust, having bashed my knee and elbow quite hard.

By about 8pm I had taken the lead, much to my surprise, as my strategy is to make up the laps on people while they sleep. Being in front so early on gave the others a target, and I was a little worried. Thankfully by this time I had gotten into a rhythm and was riding nice consistent laps - not the fastest lap times, but metronomically consistent.

I love riding at night, particularly the early hours - it is so quite and peaceful, most of the other riders are sleeping, and it is just you and your thoughts, going round and round and round. You can't see your computer, so you have no idea of lap times or heart rates - you just focus on the little pool of light in front of you, and forget about everything else.

The lap I enjoyed the most was the last one before sunrise. It is still dark enough that you have to use your light, but there is a slight glow in the sky, and everything looks crisp and fresh. It doesn't last long before the sun is up, and along with the sun came the heat. I got a recorded temp of 47C, but that must be wrong. I reckon the temperatures got up into the high thirty's - 38C or 39C.

By 8am on Sunday morning I had a 6 lap lead, which pretty much meant that I had to do one lap to every three that the guy in second was doing. I didn't take any chances, and ended up doing one lap for every two laps of his, riding with Yolanda. I was most impressed - she rode the entire route, dropoffs and technical bits, and was riding away from me on the climbs.

I comfortably won this event, completing 34 laps, 3 laps more than 2nd place, and possibly made it look to easy. I am considering retiring from competitive 24hr racing - those first 6 hours were terrible. Also, everybody just expects that I will win.

Some stats: I burned 17154KCal (or 71772 kilojoules) - the average of a person my age is 9000-16900 kilojoules per day. I climbed 5650m, or 166m per lap. I drank about 20 liters of fluid (and only went to the toilet once).

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 09:20 | No comments

Cross training

After having spent New Year's with Bonte and Craig in Hermanus, and getting to bed rather late after a hectic 5 days of riding, Craig suggested we go paddling. I was quite prepared to sleep the rest of the morning away, as we had made plans to go riding in Lebanon later that afternoon (on my rest day!).

We organised paddles, Craig did some running repairs to the K2, and we loaded up 2 dogs, 3 boats and 4 paddlers into the Golf and headed off.

I hadn't paddled in years, and fond memories of spending Saturday mornings learning how to either get back into my boat in the middle of the dam, or emptying gallons of water out of it after falling out yet again came flooding back. To make matters worse, Yolanda and I were going to share the K2, which was just a recipe for disaster.

While we never actually fell out, we did have countless close calls, and by the time we had paddled across the lagoon, our boat had a fair amount of water in it.

Bonte offered up ButterCup - her surf ski - to Yolanda, as "it is impossible to fall out of this". Minutes later Yolanda was bobbing around in the water, next to ButterCup.

A wet Yolanda bonding with the dogs.

Craig suggested that we go and do some wave surfing skiing stuff at the mouth of the river. While it looked like lots of fun, this was offset by my fear of being washed out to sea never to be seen again, so I just splashed about in the shallows, and didn't go too far out. And like Yolanda, I too fell off ButterCup. But it was quite a bit of fun!

Buttercup and I getting ready.

Splashing around at the mouth

A couple days later I noticed my cycling top was quite tight around my upper arms - I think the paddling gave me some arm muscles ;)

A well earned snack after some hectic exercise.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Posted by Velouria Posted on 14:07 | 3 comments

The day I almost drowned.

Caution - Viewer discretion required

Gross pictures at bottom

The team

My personal professional photographer (bonte) managed to convince me to enter a team into the JailBreak Triathlon held at Brandvlei prison. I was the weak link in a mixed team consisting of Jayne (a regular member of Team 4x4), and Gareth, and we had high hopes of doing quite well.

There had been talk of unseasonal overnight rain in Worcester which I hoped "they" had got wrong. When we awoke at 4 in the morning it was still raining, and it didn't look like it was going to clear any time soon. It was going to be a long, hard, wet day.

Waiting for the start

The start of the race was delayed by an hour, which just meant we spent more time standing around in the rain, getting wet. Jayne wasn't too phased by the rain - she was about to get very wet with a 2.2km swim.

Jayne after the first lap

Jayne had a brilliant swim - she was the second lady out of the water, and about 8th overall.

On her way to the transition

Run Jayne run

See Jayne run

Brenton managing a smile - sort of

Craig wondering why everyone chose to wear wetsuits

I had the rather daunting task of doing a 100km time trial, in the pouring rain. The route consisted of two laps of an out and back course to Slanghoek, which was thankfully rather flat. The headwind on the way out did make it rather tough though.

"A Maverick rider in the second team"

Looking mean

One lap done

Towards the end of the ride I was praying for hills for two reasons - I discovered that I could climb faster than the guys on proper time trial bikes, and the fact that my back was killing me from sitting in the drops for almost 3 hours.

At last - a hill

What great photography

At one point I thought I was going to die - a massive bolt of lightning lit up the sky, just as I was going under some power lines, and the whole earth shook. I was saved a quick and painless death, and instead was slowly tortured to near death over 100km.

The support team staying dry, and getting friendly with the gate guards

I lost about 20 minutes to the leading team - William Robinson was going so fast the leading motorcycle was struggling to keep up.

Warm and dry, for now

After almost 3 hours of suffering I handed over to Gareth to make up some time on the 25km run. While he was able to close the gap on the individuals, the was unable to make a dent in the lead of the leading team.

Proof that running kit looks worse than cycling kit

Almost there

What? No dancing girls?

We were soundly beaten into second place, with each of us being beaten in our own disciplines by the leaders, but we had a great day out - despite all the rain. And we got some prizes which made it all worth it. Like most events, I am already scheming about next year.

A happy team after the event

Give us our medals Gareth!

Caution - Viewer discretion required

Jogger's nipple

Why white is never a good colour

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Posted by Velouria Posted on 13:51 | No comments

Fun rides

The last two rides of the season have come and gone, and after the Double Century, no one really wanted to be racing anyway.

First up was the Burger. A great ride - well organised, a "nice" route, and great weather. I chose to ride in the Sub Vets (I was still a little worried after the implosion at the DC), but really shouldn't have been. The race started off by taking us up the old Helshoogte pass. That was great, and before we knew it we were at the top - I love those sort of hills. I got over the top in the first bunch of about 10 riders, but on the downhill on the other side, most people were able to rejoin the bunch (everyone except Tim - don't know where he went - he was looking good up the climb - well placed in the bunch one minute, and the next minute he was nowhere to be seen.)

From there on in it was a cruise through Pniel, past the prison, round some back roads in Paarl, and finally on our way to Wellington. After we had crossed a massive trench in the road on the way out of Wellington, the racing started. With every acceleration we lost a couple of riders, and the bunch got a little smaller. I was feeling good, and even took a few turns on the front to try to close a gap to two adventurous riders who went on the attack with about 30 kms to go. The big move came on the hill outside Liefland wine farm on the R44, and I was able to stay with the leaders, closing the gaps as they opened. About 7 of us got away, and we desperately tried to open the gap on the rest. On the next hill, 5 of us got clear at the front, when another attack came in, leaving two riders off the front. Several chase riders joined us, and we slowly closed the gap to the leaders with about 5kms to go, all the while the chasing riders were rejoining the bunch.

It came down to a bunch sprint, and I watched it all from the safety of the back of the bunch - happy with my time of 2:38.

The top of Helshoogte

The Maverick tandem at the top of Helshoogte

The last race of the season was the Tour de Winelands. I was not supposed to do this ride, but I had had such a terrible ride the year before I felt I had unfinished business.

A and B started together, and it was clear to see that this wasn't going to be a fun ride. The A boys were out to prove a point, and the surges kept coming. I hung on to the back of the bunch for the first half of the race while I waited for my legs to get going. We had ridden to the start of the race in Brackenfell, and so my legs were feeling a little lazy.

On the AgterPaarl road the moves began to happen, and I was quite comfortable keeping up with the surges. A few gaps opened up thanks to some Club100 riders, and I found myself in a 4 man group about 30 meters behind the lead bunch of about 12 riders. We chased for about 12 kms, before I decided that we were getting nowhere and decided to wait for the chase group. When the chase group did eventually arrive, it was rather pedestrian, and there was no way we were going to catch anything. I took some long hard turns on the front, and couple other riders helped out. I really was quite impressed at how my legs were coping. The run in to the finish was over a couple hills, and I was able to easily stay with the leaders of the chase group. It always amazes me how people jump out of the woodwork when the finish comes into sight. For 40kms 3 or 4 people had shared the work on the front, and suddenly there were 25 people racing for 12th spot. I just sat up and watched...

Just chilling at the back of the bunch (along with Marius)

Cobus and "friend" riding in the lower groups

Now it is the Jail Break to come, and lots and lots of Epic training.