Thursday, 4 December 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 14:50 | No comments

DC in photos






























Friday, 21 November 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 22:41 | No comments

My first road race

The last road ride I did was the Argus - a whole 8 months previously. So, in an effort to seem motivated I entered the Klein Joostenberg Fun ride. I reckoned that this would be the perfect ride to make a comeback on, as it is the week before the Double Century, so everyone should be resting, thus making my life a bit easier. It was also the same day as the 94.7, and I was hoping that many people had gone up-country to race. Just to be safe, I thought I would ride in E. Imagine my nervousness when, in the start chute, there were at least 5 other guys from B. Russell had also made an appearance. It looked like my gentle slow ride just wasn't going to happen.

From the gun things were quite racey, and I slotted into my usual position in the peloton - right near the back somewhere. Russell kept me company, and apart from hanging onto my pockets up the rolling hills, I was quite comfortable there. But I had a feeling something was going to change, and when got to the bottom of the biggest rolling hill of the day, several guys hopped off the front. Suddenly my plan to hide at the back was out the window, and I found myself chasing down the break, and towing some other riders across. Once things had settled down, 12 of us had ridden off the front, and we had the group of C/D in our sights ahead of us.

Yo sneaking back the snacks

After making a meal of the chase to C/D, we finally caught them with about 20kms to go, but into a rather nasty head wind. By this time I was starting to fade, and had to dig deep to hang on in the gutter. Over one of the rollers someone ahead of me got unhitched, and that was that. I had a 5km ride with a couple of other stragglers to the finish. All in all, it was good to get out to race again, and to see just exactly where my fitness is (or isn't).

How was the ride?

This was also Yolanda's first ride since the Argus (and pretty much the first time on a bike since then as well). Mike and Fee made their SA road riding debut, and from the sounds of things, they all had a 88km time trial, finishing off into that terrible headwind.

Let the snacking begin

With the ride over, it was time for snacks. And let's be honest - that is the real reason we ride. We had a lovely picnic under the trees as we watched the prize giving, hoping our lucky numbers would be called out. They weren't, but it didn't matter - we had some good snacks, several cups of tea, and a post ride half-snooze.

Horse rides for the adventurous

Let's hope things get a little better for the Burger in just over a week's time. I have been seeded in the SubVet bunch, but I am a little worried of even making it over Helshoogte with them!

The real snacks!
Posted by Velouria Posted on 00:09 | No comments

Double Century Weekend

As everyone gets ready for the annual pilgrimage of pain and suffering, I sit at home, sick. Looks like the cycling gods don't even want me to do backup.

Good luck to all the riders, fast and slow - I am jealous of everyone.

The most talked about subject all week has been the weather for Swellendam on Saturday, and it looks like it could be rather good for bike riding - a little bit of rain, but at least the wind stays away.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 17:45 | No comments

Botrivier Barrel Race

With all the secret training I have been doing, I thought it would be a good idea to test my legs in a real race. My plan was to ride the 15km Botrivier MTB race, claim an easy victory, boost my ego, and keep my sponsors happy. Unfortunately, we had a rather big night the night before the race, and I was worried that I would not be able to beat the under 12 girls who I would be up against.

The Madagascar Reunion - Yo is still awake

It is all fine and well beating the girls, but imagine the damage that would be done to my ego if I were to be beaten. So instead I opted to blend in with the back markers on the 30km race.

The other competition - Gavin and Michelle

Old habits die hard - as soon as the gun went off, instinct took over, and I found myself on the front of the bunch, pushing hard. Behind I could hear a bit of a scramble as the young racing snakes jostled to get on my wheel. Any worries I had about my knee went out the window, and my next worry was how long I could keep up the pace over the rolling hills, straight into a head wind.

Always stay hydrated

Spectators should stay hydrated too

I reckoned I had about 10 minutes in my legs and my lungs, and in that time I was going to make the youngsters earn the win. It was good to ride hard again, and for about ten minutes I lead the 30km ride. With my legs and lungs aching, I sat up, pulled over, and waved goodbye to the racing snakes. Mad panic ensued, as one of them would now have to go to the front and face the gusty breeze.

Heavier than they look

The locals turned out in force

I waited for Brenton, and from then on had a great ride - stopping at all the watering points, taking a wrong turn in my eagerness to pass slower people (I almost ended up doing the 50km), and chatting to the people around me (which normally doesn't happen too often). As the ride settled down, Brenton and I found ourselves in the company of a young boy, who couldn't have been more than 13 years old. While he struggled into the wind (the lack of body weight can be a killer), he had no fear on the downhills. I was still quite nervous on the downhills, as two days previously I had fallen off my bike (again), and hurt my shoulder. I could see the youngster wanted to race to the finish, and so I made him work hard, eventually letting him "out sprint" me to the line.

Pre-race strategy discussions


Craig followed a similar tactic to me in the 50km, but instead of calling it quits after 10 minutes, he just kept on going - riding away from everyone to win another race. At least one of us is doing well. I might be the guy getting pushed all over the Western Cape next March ;)

On your marks

Get set...


The bike race was just the warm up to the days events, as the real highlight (probably of the year for the locals of Botrivier) was the barrel race. This involves a team of 4 rolling an empty wine barrel up and down a course in a relay. The top 4 times went through to the semi finals, with the winning team walking away with new wine barrel (and if you think that is a cheesy prize, a barrel apparently goes for around R8000!).

Ten out of ten for accuracy....

After studying the technique of the teams that went first, Team Snail Farmer (or something like that) made their barrel rolling debut against the professionals. I think they were the only non wine farm entry. And the wine farms take this competition quite seriously - I think the bragging rights of being the Barrel Rolling Champions are quite valued in Botrivier.

Post race analysis...

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 15:07 | 4 comments

Feeling like David Beckham

Well, not exactly - I haven't changed my hairstyle, I don't wear my wife's underwear, and my IQ isn't below 70. I have a sore knee, and just like Beckham's metatarsal, it is receiving a lot of attention. Not quite as much attention as the now famous metatarsal that had a nation on the edge of it's seat for several months, but pretty close.
I expect the tabloids to start phoning any minute - I hear "Die Son" ("The Sun") specialises in such trivial news.

To keep myself busy, I have started looking at other hobbies. One that is showing a lot of potential, and that is considerably cheaper than cycling is puzzle building. And I am not talking about those simple puzzles we all did when we were kids. I am talking about the Cape Epic of puzzles, like this:

which is made up of loads of little pictures, like this:
And just to prove that I did finish it (and I am not making this all up), here is a photo:

I find puzzle building to be particularly effective if you have any other things to do that are worth avoiding, and the preferred garb for the seasoned puzzle builder is preferably your pajamas.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 02:19 | 5 comments

Stanford MTB 2008

A free advert for a great little race (as the current champion, I might be a little biased!)

Join us on Saturday, 20 September 2008, for the annual Stanford Mountain bike race.
This year the race is on Paardenberg Farm, next to Salmonsdam Reserve.
There are 3 races, 5 km, 22 km & 50 km.  They all cover scenic routes, with great views, through the local dairy
and wine farms and over the fynbos mountains.  Sections cover the same route as the 2008 Cape Epic.
Bring the whole family and join us for the day or make a weekend of Stanford’s hospitality.
The start/finish is in the picturesque "akkerbos" on the farm.
Lots to keep you busy - donkey cart rides, tractor rides, local wine, beer for sale.
Bring a picnic or support the local food stalls. (Proceeds support local schools)

Entries on morning of race.
Race times & Entry Fees
50km – starts 9.15 - R60/cyclist
22km – starts 9.30 - R60/cyclist
  5km – starts 9.45 - R20/cyclist
Directions from Stanford:
Take R326 towards Caledon
Drive 5 km to Elim/Papiesvlei turn off
Turn right, drive for 7.2 km to Salmonsdam turnoff. 
Turn left
Drive 3.5 km to Oak Trees

mark – 082 683 6313
kevin – 082 809 3585
mandy – 082 213 0512

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 11:58 | 4 comments

Trans Baviaans #5

The fifth edition of the Trans Baviaans mountain bike race saw the revival of the Soggy Bottom Boys, much to the disgust of John, my partner from last year. Craig had managed to stay injury free for a whole year, and was finally able to join us in the 230km trip from Willowmore to Jeffry's Bay.

The weather reports had been messing with us all week, alternating from torrential downpours to sub-tropical bliss. As it turned out, we got something in between.

We made it to registration in Willowmore with minutes to spare, having had to wait for a very sub-standard meal in Oudtshoorn. With registration out of the way, we headed off across the road to the hostel where we were spending the night. The really serious cyclists had already gone to bed by the time we got there, and we received some dirty looks for the noise we made. The serious cyclists would have their revenge the next morning when they awoke before 6, and proceeded to make more than enough noise to ensure everybody was awake.

We did our usual pre-race thing - filling juice bottles, checking bikes, packing snacks etc, but Team Soggy Bottom Boys seemed quite relaxed (unlike the serious cyclists). A cold wind had started blowing, and after much consideration, we decided that arm warmers might be a good idea.

I love the tight top on John!

The race started at 10am, and we had 24 hours to get to the finish in Jeffry's Bay. Right away, we were greeted with an icy headwind on the long wide open rolling roads leading towards the Baviaans Kloof. I was in my element, as was Craig, and we quickly settled into a comfortable pace, towing John along as we caught and passed several bunches up the road. Eventually we were just five riders - the three Soggy Bottom Boys, and a chap with SA colours on his sleeve and his partner.

Much to John's disgust, it turned out that the guy in the SA colours is quite well known, and often appears in magazines, but is better known for his IronMan exploits. We were towing Raynard Tissink along, and doing some really serious damage to John's legs. Craig did ask for Raynard's autograph, but at John's insistence we had to let them go on ahead of us

We were making good time, considering the head wind, our lack of training, and total inability of the other riders to share the pacing. I had learned a valuable lesson last year about the consequences of not eating and keeping the energy supplies up. It was a lesson I did not want to repeat, and so I had been practicing my eating on the bike. And it worked a charm. A marmite sarmy every couple of hours kept me going. I wasn't going to repeat the mistakes of last year and have to walk up the big climb.

We got to the top of the Mother of All Climbs, and took about 20 minutes to sort ourselves out. John was tired of having a soggy bottom, and so changed all his kit. Craig and I just changed into some dry socks. We had some warm soup and some bread, put on our lights and were ready to race down the other side of the Mother of All Climbs (some quite a bit faster than others). On the descent, we got a pleasant surprise as around one corner two cars suddenly appeared, and the drivers seemed a little annoyed at having to move over for the cyclists.

The backup crew were hypnotised by a peacock

Back on the valley floor, with the sun slowly setting, and a beautiful full moon slowly rising we continued on our way to Kondomo - a campsite just outside Patensie, and our next check point. We were greeted by the bright luminous yellow figure of Yolanda screaming and cheering at the top of her voice. There had been a bet amongst some of the other seconders as to when their riders would arrive, and Yolanda won. We were happy to help out.

With John starting to look a little worse for wear, we quickly got some snacks, checked the bikes, and had a cup of hot chocolate. Bonte's mothering nature surfaced again, as she proceeded to force feed John oranges (bought in Patensie for the bargain price of R5 a pocket) whenever his mouth was empty. We all expected to see those oranges to make a reappearance later, but somehow John managed to keep them under control.

The next 7kms were on a flat bit of tar before we started the Never Ender. I was in my element. And to make things worse for John, I could see some flashy lights up ahead. In a straight line we quickly covered the 7km to the turn off to Humansdorp, and the start of the climb. John's biggest wish had been to ride the climb alone, with no flashy lights ahead of us. Unfortunately for him, his wish didn't come true, and there were plenty of targets up ahead for us to aim at. With John turning himself inside out, and getting the odd push from Craig we quickly caught and passed some of the flashy lights, and before we knew it, we were at the top of the NeverEnder, and almost at the next check point.

The lights of Jeffry's Bay were just visible over the horizon as we quickly crammed some food into John and set out to do the last 17kms. We now found ourselves in a 3 way race - the other teams had the advantage on the climbs, but on the flats and downs we would close the gap. With about 5 kms to go we were all neck and neck, with one last uphill ahead of us. Amazingly, John rode the those 5kms like a man possessed, and we managed to come in 2nd of our race within a race, in a time of 12:01 - and in 19th place.

The customary post race analysis

We were more than happy with our result - we had ridden far better than I ever thought we would. We had a nice warm shower, and sat down to have some real food and watch some of the other teams come in. Our backup team had done another superb job of looking after us, pitching the tents, taking awesome photos and encouraging us.

Bonte propping John up while letting his wife know that is made it - just

The next day Craig and I felt quite good, not too stiff or sore. John, on the other hand (Darren), was broken, and was ready to sell all his cycling stuff and take up crocheting.

As a parting gift, John did get his own back, and gave us all flu, although he claims it was the dodgy food at the world's worst restaurant in Oudtshoorn.

Will the Soggy Bottom Boys be back - I think so (but perhaps under a new name).