Friday, 22 February 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 15:14 | No comments

Another winner

Having finally moved away form the terrible southern suburb races, the Spring League headed out towards Paarl, for a relatively flat and fast tour of the platteland (and of course Helshoogte). Bonte and Yolanda won't necessarily agree with that route description, and will tell you it was a hilly course with plenty of undulation. It seems to be a matter of perspective.

Anway, enough bickering about the route. I had had a tough training ride the day before, and so had Craig, and we were both quite content to chill in the bunch until Helshoogte. Yet again, I got stuck in between the main bunch and the chase bunch, but was still quite happy with how I climbed. The race came back together with about 15km to, and I decided to stay out of trouble at the back, and let the fearless guys fight it out in the sprint. With about 5kms to go MC went down hard, which made me drop even further off the back - I will save the pain and suffering for the Epic. After a very argy bargy sprint finish, I caught up with Christian, my old team mate, who mumbled to me something about the fact that he thinks he won the race.

To put this race into perspective - for the last 4 years, him and I have studied the run up to the finish line, and marked exactly where one should make their move for the sprint. Christian has always believed that he could win this ride. And he did. Well done.

Have a look at that smile:

Posted by Velouria Posted on 14:59 | 1 comment

Lighthouse Cottage

After all these years, cycling is starting to pay off. We recently enjoyed the spoils of the race I won last year, and spent a weekend away just outside the Salman's Dam nature reserve. While it was supposed to a romantic weekend away (just before Valentine's Day), it made for a welcome change of cycling scenary, and also allowed Craig and I to check out some of the Epic route.

Some pictures:

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.