Thursday, 26 January 2012

Posted by Velouria Posted on 16:31 | 2 comments

Oak Valley 24hr 2012

Courtesy of
14th December: Just entered for the Oak Valley 24hr. Solo. I suddenly feel like a prisoner on death row. What was I thinking? I'm getting too old for this. At least I got the early bird (aka cheapskate) discount. On the positive side, it surely can't be as bad as my Double Century.

24th December: Just got back from a 5 hour ride, having bonked spectacularly after 3 hours. It was like the Double Century all over again, except there was no one to push me. Forget about tomorrow being Christmas Day - I'm just glad it's a rest day.

26th December: Another 5hr ride. Didn't bonk this time - I suspect the 7 mince pies and 2 helpings of Christmas pudding yesterday might be the reason. Probably explains why I climbed like a lead balloon. Time for a compact crank perhaps (or a diet).

1st January: Happy New Year. Twenty days until my date with the Grim Reaper. I did a 6 hour ride yesterday and didn't see a single cyclist on the road. Gave all the merry holiday makers on Strand beach me best death stare - they seemed to be having far too much fun. My plans to have a nap in the car last night at the New Year's party were foiled, but as the dedicated driver I made sure we left just after 12. Thanks goodness for spmall miracles - another rest day today. Can't get too excited though - another 5hr ride tomorrow.

2nd January: I hate my bike. My bum hates me. My dogs (and wife) treat me like a stranger in my own house.

5th January: Started stalking potential competitors, while at the same time keeping a low profile. Thank goodness for Twitter and Facebook - it's so much easier being a stalker these days. Found a route profile and am suddenly quite nervous. An 11km lap with 250m of climbing. Really regretting all those Christmas pies right now. Time for us to diet (us being myself AND my bike).

Oak Valley 24hr Lap

8th January: Completed my last big weekend before the 24hr. Saw last year's 2nd placed solo lady out on the road in the middle of nowhere, so at least I'm not the only antisocial person in the Winelands. Also saw the beginning of the Argus First Timers/New Year's Resolutionists beginning their training/get fit plans. I'm glad to see that tekkies and T-shirts are still the apparel of choice for beginners. (Mental note: be sure to destroy all photos of my first Argus!)

11th January: Where. Are. My. Lights??? Last seen just after Trans Baviaans.

12th January: Found my lights, along with a pair of missing (now mouldy and rank) arm warmers and a stranger's pair of underpants. Don't ask - your guess is as good as mine...
Ready to roll
14th January: Earned some brownie points doing backup for my wife at Attakwas. Going to come in handy next week. Looked like a bit of a tit riding back along the route, but when the coach says 3 hours, I do 3 hours...

20th January: Frantic search for new tyres. Settled on Racing Ralphs. Need all the raciness I can get. Bike serviced, snacks bought, kit washed, lights charged, bags packed and bum cream purchased. The 24hr is a go!

21st January

6:30am: It's impossible to sleep more than 10 hours - time to get up. Best thing about the 24hr - double helping of FutureLife for breakfast.

8:30am: On our way to Oak Valley. Can't believe how much stuff we've packed for one night away.

10:30am: Gazebo pitched. Decided not to pitch tent. Didn't want to tempt fate.
Single track heaven
11:30am: Changed into cycling kit, bum cream applied. Had a motivational chat with Nelly (my bike) - she looks after me and I'll look after her.

11:45am: Race briefing. Felt like I was back in high school listening to the headmaster. Meurant may have missed his calling as a school principal - no wonder he channels that authority into some really great, but equally tough trails around the Western Cape. A fantastic turnout - in excess of 300 participants overall and over 100 insane people going solo.
And we're off
12:00pm: Le Mans style start. It's rather easy to spot the solo riders in the crowd - I've perfected the loping amble. Slightly faster than walking pace, but slower than a jog. Anyone faster than that was riding in a team, and anyone equally slow or slower was doing it solo.

12:35pm: First lap done. What a fantastic course. First half requires a bit of hard work up the climb, but you're easily distracted by the climbing single track. The second half is pure smile inducing awesomeness. Fast flowing single track bobbing and weaving between the trees - mountain biking at its very best. Legs felt great, everything appears to be working well. Seems like there is a sneaky photographer behind every tree, jumping out with camera in hand when you least expect it. Modern day ninjas.

16:18pm: 7 laps done, seven bottles of juice consumed. Bum cream reapplied. 37 degrees out on the course. Have had several close encounters with cows. Rather ironically we still have half an Oak Valley cow in our deep freezer. I was tempted to mention this to them next time they got too close but decided against it. Having one of their friends for supper twice a week might just spur them on to attack me.

17:01pm: Near race and marriage ending argument with my wife (or as Meurant calls her, the best technical support in the business) over the flavour of Gu she was giving me. After forcing down several Tri-Berry, Jet Blackberry and Peanut Butter flavoured sachets I lost it when I got yet another Tri-Berry flavoured one. All I wanted was my favourite Double Espresso flavoured Gu. Perhaps I was going to be pitching the tent after all...
Time for a snack
18:30pm: Discovered I had a granny gear at the front. The climbs are suddenly a bit more manageable. The time keepers are playing silly buggers with me - they won't tell me what's happening in the race. Good thing Tree John wrote the timing software and was able to sneak me some race info. Things are looking good. I might be in first place. Or third. In other news, the wind has started to drop - I'm upset for two reasons. It was nice and cooling, and was doing a good job of blowing us up the climbs.

19:12pm: Stopped for supper and a change of shirt. Was beginning to smell like my long lost arm warmers. Applied more bum cream for good measure. Fitted my underpants flavoured lights while trying to touch them as little as possible. Sunset is imminent.
Fresh gloves
21:50pm: JRR Tolkein was onto something with his Ents. Trees definitely move at night. It feels like they've all taken one step closer to the trail. Rather intimidating. Saw several frogs on the trail. Made sure I wasn't hallucinating and they were in fact real. They have a deluded sense of toughness - quite prepared to take on a bicycle wheel.

12:00am: Halfway. 17 laps done. Very quiet and lonely out on the course. The odd racing snake makes a brief appearance before vanishing down the trail - rear red light blinking faintly. Almost rode over a mouse with the indecisiveness of a guinea fowl crossed with a squirrel. Had to actually dismount while he made up his mind about which way he wanted to go.
An indecisive mouse
2:03am: Found a crazy solo single speeder have a wrestling match with his bike up a hill. At least I'm not that crazy, and at least I'm not struggling that much. Suddenly very grateful to the guy who invented the derailleur and gears. Asked my wife for lube - she handed me the bum cream. I was talking about bike lube for my dry chain.

2:52am: Had a close encounter with a Tree Ent. I swear it deliberately stuck out a branch and grabbed my bar ends. Quite surprised by my cat like reflexes so early in the morning (I put this down to the switch to the Double Espresso Gu flavour). Pity no one was about to see my fantastic bike handling skills, or witness the evil Tree Ent.
Check the cows out
4:28am: The sky is getting lighter - sunrise will be any minute now. Couldn't help thinking of all the other athletes about to wake up - Half Iron Man and the Cape Cobra. I'm secretly jealous of their choice in outdoor activity. In other news, I suspect various parts of my body of planning a pain protest. I think my bum is the ring leader.

5:17am: It is light enough to ride without lights. Imagine my surprise upon discovering the cows were in exactly the same place as they were before the sun set. They'd been watching us all night long. I feel violated by the voyeur cows. Time for more bum cream. Is it possible to apply too much?
In the zone
7:44am: Have had Robbie Williams' "I don't want to Rock DJ" stuck in my head for 2 hours now. I suspect the other competitors are resorting to nasty psychological warfare tactics. The worst thing is that I only know one line of the song. The course is suddenly as busy as the N1 on a work day. And I'm the overloaded 18 wheeler truck grinding up Durbanville Hill, obstructing the traffic.

8:34am: Just did a whole lap with the hiccoughs. Banana flavoured. I haven't had a banana for 6 hours. Some vindictive social rider is making bacon and eggs in the camp. There should be rules about torturing the solo riders like this. The finish is almost within sight.

9:21am: Some windgat race snake wearing world champ colours came flying passed me. Like there'd be any world champs at a little 24hr event in Grabouw. Pffft!
Spot the World Champ behind me
10:26am: No wonder I am so slow - there are bits on my bike that I am not using. Like the big chain blade, the second water bottle cage. And the saddle. The protest has escalated into a full blown strike. My bum refuses to go near my saddle. In other news, in an attempt to let a faster rider past I fell into a bramble thicket - bum first. Once in, I was quite prepared to spend the rest of the day there - getting out brought tears to my eyes.

11:31am: Last lap done. Finished. Just waiting for 12pm to cross the line. Ignoring all the encouragement to do one last lap. Names have been taken and I'll be lodging a complaint of attempted murder against all those egging me on. Far more focused on getting a beer. And sitting.
Bum and saddle are no longer friends
12:01pm: 30 laps completed, 330kms, 6890m of ascent, 17 451 KCal burned. I took in the following: 30 bottles of juice/water, 4 litres of coke, 2 litres of Lucozade, 4 Woolworths milkshakes/yoghurt drinks, 15 baby potatoes, 12 Gu sachets, 4 bananas, one sandwich, one cappuccino, a mouthful of pasta and 17 airborne bugs.

12:17pm: Attempting to shower. Discovered several new features on my bum. I'm either growing horns or they are blisters. Going commando.

12:30pm: Been lusting after a Spur burger and chips all night long, only to be told that they are packing up. Tried to explain that I'd been a little busy for the last 24hrs. Ended up going to the LimeBar for beer instead.
Happiness is beer and a chair
1:12pm: Car is packed largely due to the best technical support crew around (my wife). I sat down to tie a shoelace and stayed there.

1:30pm: Prize giving. Lots of weary bodies with big smiles. On the smile scale the event was clearly a great success. Seems like a tough battle for 1st place was had in all categories. Except that crazy single speeder team - no one was crazy enough to challenge them. The best 24hr event I have been to yet - the course alone is enough to forgive any other oversights by Dirtopia. Good work. Turns out the windgat race snake wearing world champ colours is in fact a Ralph Näf - 2006 World Marathon Champ - out on a training ride. He won the 3hr race.
The top 3 solo riders
2:32pm: Fell asleep on the car trip home. Drooled down my cheek. Car is unpacked, and by unpacked I mean all the stuff is now taking up space in the lounge. A cup of tea in the bath, bum damage inspection and time for a nap. Taking tomorrow off - is it normal leave or sick leave?
Even Nelly took strain
8:07pm: Pizza in bed, time to catch up on missing sleep. Will be sleeping on my stomach tonight. Good night.
One dirty right leg
All professional looking photos courtesy of Chris at PhotoBay

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Posted by Velouria Posted on 13:46 | 5 comments

Double Century 2011

Once again, Team had assembled a rag tag bunch of cyclists with the aim of riding 202 kilometers as fast as we could. We're a virtual team, corresponding via email, and meeting up together as a team for the first time the night before the event. Captain Craig and I spend the entire year between events trying to fill the ranks around a core group of riders, always on the hunt for riders who will compliment our cause, so you can imagine our relief when we were able to recruit "The Biggest Cyclist in the World"™ and some of his friends. The team now consisted of some road cyclists, some mountain bikers, some triathletes, a Double Century virgin, a localised Brit, a senior citizen, The Accountant, and two mustache wearing members of the Village People - a cosmopolitan bunch indeed.

Ever since our stroke of recruitment genius, I had been receiving updates via twitter from "The Biggest Cyclist in the World"™, mainly about his training, and to say that I was nervous is an understatement. With each update my anxiety levels increased - suddenly my 350kms a week seemed rather pathetic in comparison to the 600kms a week he was putting in. I sensed that this was going to be no ordinary DC.

One straight stripe
We all met up for the first time the night before the big day in a guest house in Swellendam, where we talked strategy and tactics over dinner, while at the same time scared the living daylights out of the DC virgin. The plan was simple - when on the front, ride as fast as you can, for as long as you can, and then drop back into the pace line to recover. Repeat about 30 times, or until you died, which ever came first. After watching the speed with which some of the team members devoured supper I hoped that the same enthusiasm would be present the next morning on the bike.

The team - altogether still
After our great ride from 2010, Team had been seeded to start with the big boys of Double Century racing, which meant we started at 6:08am. Of all the teams around us, I was particularly worried about Red John, my W2W partner, who was starting ten minutes behind us. I knew that if and when he caught and passed us, I would never hear the end of it. I needed all the extra motivation I could get. As soon as the gun went we assumed the position that we'd stay in for the next 6 or so hours - one long stripe of men on machines tearing up the tarmac.

Are we there yet?
With Swellendam quickly vanishing behind us we made good progress, lured by the slower teams ahead of us. Nothing like a target or two to motivate a team of twelve cyclists. We whizzed through Suurbrak and before we knew it we were on the lower slopes of the Tradouw Pass, but already we had a problem. We'd lost 3 riders within the first hour, and the race had barely begun. The nice thing about having "The Biggest Cyclist in the World"™ on our team, among other things, was that we got to climb the 14kms of the pass at his pace, and not at the pace of some of the other mountain goats in our team. The same applied for Op de Tradouw pass, where we had our first feed stop. In addition to grabbing new bottles and snacks, Andy, the localised Brit did an equipment change.

The Andy Train
Photo courtesy of Ronelle Rust:TORQUEPICS
"If the speed goes over 50km/h, I want to be on the front"
Photo courtesy of Ronelle Rust:TORQUEPICS
Much like Stanely Ipkiss in The Mask, as soon as Andy put on his time trial helmet he went from being a strong tempo riding cyclist to an insanely fast speed loving yellow-shoed maniac. Not only did his muscles have muscles, but the muscles on his muscles had muscles. Us ordinary folk were going to be in for a ride of our lives. The next 80kms took us 1h55, and in the process Team slowly lost a few more riders. First to go was Hector (admittedly it was my fault after I gave him a dead wheel), followed by our time trialing quiet guy Chris with a flat tyre. We were down to 7 riders and I was starting to take strain.

I had to make a decision quickly - drop off now while I still could, or endure another 2 hours of pain and suffering. Just when I was about to put my plan for a gentle ride to the finish into action, I realised that I was too late. Jarryd had beaten me to it, and now I was suddenly number 6 - the worst number to be in a DC team. I persevered to the next feed stop where I hoped that some coke and a Gu would get me going again. If anything, I felt worse after that, and the thought of another 2 hours of this didn't do much to lift my mood. Thankfully Andy had taken off the time trial helmet - with my spaghetti legs we wouldn't be needing that again in a hurry.

Photo courtesy of Ronelle Rust:TORQUEPICS
Hector feeling rather happy to be off the back
Photo courtesy of Ronelle Rust:TORQUEPICS
I went through all manner of pain and torment, gave up cycling 3 times, and vowed to name my second born (I've already promised the organisers of the Swazi Frontier naming rights to my first born) something along the lines of Trevor Andy Craig Warren Andrew (or a combination thereof) should it be a boy, if I were to survive to the finish line in one piece. With some great team work, plenty of pushing, and some words of encouragement the stronger members of Team nursed me through the remaining kilometers. As soon as a gap opened there'd be a hand on my back pushing me back into contact with the rest of the team, as soon as I called for water I'd have a bottle right away.

Guess who Warren is pushing?
Photo courtesy of Ronelle Rust:TORQUEPICS
A team tradition is to go for a cool down ride on the day after the race, and as we crested the final sense of humour killing hill I remember telling Craig that he could stick his cool down ride - I wasn't interested. Somehow, I survived two of the darkest hours I have had on a bike and we finally crossed the finishing line in a slightly disappointing 5h48 and 9th overall. It's not a bad time, but we certainly were on target for something so much faster. The only saving grace was that Red John and his Anderson crew had been unable to catch us - at least a small part of my pride was intact.

Guess who Craig is pushing?
And guess who "The Biggest Cyclist in the World"™ is about to push?
As the French say "un jour sans" - a day without. I prefer Captain Craig's take on things though: "It's a bit like us being taken for a walk by a much bigger and meaner dog than we expected!". To Eurice (the DC Virgin), Grant (The Accountant), Russell (The Senior Citizen), Hector (The Gay German), Chris (The Quiet Guy), Jarryd (The Kid), Craig (The Captain), Warren (The Village Person), Trevor (The Beast), Andrew (The Silent Assassin) and Andy (The Silver Bullet) - thanks for another great DC. To Chad (The Chiropractor) and Yolanda (The Wife) - thanks for the brilliant backup - without you guys we wouldn't have gotten very far at all. See you all next year.

The finishing six
I was just happy to still be alive.
The Team and Chad

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Posted by Velouria Posted on 13:31 | 2 comments

Wines2Whales 2011

The third edition of Wines2Whales promised to be bigger and better, with more single track, tastier food, and cosier tents. Right after entries opened, the 3 antagonists in the Highly Competitive Married Couples Racing Division from the 2010 event met at a neutral venue to lay down some ground rules. After some tooth and nail negotiations, several bottles of wine (someone mentioned something about focusing on the "Wines" part of Wines2Whales), and some subtle psychological mind games we settled on the following rules:
  1. Pushing is allowed
  2. We all had to start in the same group 

Pre race excitement
There might have been more rules and stipulations, but between the lack of minutes at the meeting and the wine no one could recall much the next day. All that was left was for the secret training and intelligence gathering to begin.

While I'd like to think that my team was well on track to reaching new levels of fitness and technical skill as the cold winter months wore on, I'd be telling a lie. As it turned out, my sources revealed that things weren't going much better in the other teams. Intra team politics, bad weather and sheer laziness all culminated in a phone call I received with a little under two months to race day. The faster half of Team Heading for a Divorce (Red John - as I'm pretty sure he tried to kill me several times) was quite worried that they would have to change their team name to Team We're Already Divorced, and so in the interest of saving his marriage had come up with a proposal. Would I be willing to do a partner swap - not the keys in a fish bowl type - and ride with him? And to sweeten the deal he'd throw in some free massages for my wife and I. Team Starsky and Hutch (I was Starsky) and Team Pinky and the Brain (still not sure who is Pinky and who is the Brain) were born.

The problem - too much stuff, not enough space!
Having successfully beaten Red John in 5 out of 6 stages in 2011, I was up for the challenge, but still had two conditions:
  1. Since Red John and his bike weigh less than me alone, he would have to wait at the top of the hills
  2. No swearing at me (people still think Red John's wife is known as "For F*cks sake Nadine")
While I'd been having fun in the hills of Swaziland, Red John had been hard at work on the road bike, earning a podium at the Msunduzi Road Challenge - part of the UCI World Cycling Tour. To say I was nervous was an understatement, and when there was talk of finishing in the top 3 I suddenly wished I hadn't been so cheap and accepted the free massages.

Red John on the podium (in red)
Stage One

Team Starsky and Hutch were initially seeded in B, but this wasn't good enough for Red John. After analysing the seeding of all the riders ahead of us in A, he sent a threatening letter to the organisers promising to pour pool acid all over their plants if we weren't immediately reseeded. Valuing their plants, and not wanting to incur the wrath of Red John, we were promptly reseeded into A, which meant a 7am start from the beautiful Lourensford Wine Estate.

A blurry Yolanda and Coach Louise in the start chute
As we stood in the start chute with hills all around us, I felt a little bit out of place with all the race snakes sussing us out. Thankfully, our podium aspirations had been downgraded to a top 10 in our category, and a top 20 overall (which still made me nervous - I went to the toilet 4 times before the start).

Preparing the "bedroom" tent
The bedroom tent
As soon as the gun went and the trail started going up, Red John assumed the position that I would get well acquainted with over the next couple of days - a couple of bike lengths ahead of me, looking like he was out on a social ride with mates as I laboured on the pedals to try and close the gap. The ultimate indignity came when he offered me his pocket for a tow on the first 7km climb of the day. While I might be prepared to swap my wife for a free massage, I do have some principals, and getting towed on the first climb of the day is against one of them!

A gloomy looking race village and meal tent
With the climb over we got onto some terrain that I'm more at home on when I realised my bike was handling like a minibus taxi. My suspension had popped, squirting oil all over my front brake, and so like your average minibus taxi I had no front brakes and no suspension. Little John's mid morning mechanical gremlin had found a new victim! Downhills suddenly became bone rattling death traps, sweet flowing single track became a hiking trail that I could push my bike along. They say that when you are about to die your life flashes before your eyes, but all I can recall as I headed towards a collision with a barbed wire fence at break neck speed is that I hoped Red John would eventually realise I wasn't behind him any more. No epiphanies, insights or restful bliss - just fear that I'd die and my partner wouldn't even know!

Pinky and the Brain (or is it The Brain and Pinky?)
Amazingly, despite my lack of legs and mechanical well-being  we found ourselves slowly moving up through the field (I did swallow my pride and accepted a pocket), and by the time we got to the Gantouw Pass portage section we had several teams lurking just ahead of us. Some determined hiking saw as crest the top of the pass ahead of several roadie teams, with about 15kms to the finish. A slight sense of humour failure and some annoyingly twisty turny single track later we crossed the line at the Grabouw Country club, completing the 70 odd kilometers in 3h48, in 15th overall, and 6th in our category.

The race village
Several hours later, after a shower, a tasty nutella sandwich, and an excruciating massage, Team Pinky and the Brain crossed the line. I wasn't quite sure if that was the time to ask FFS Nadine if she wanted to swap back again and ride with her husband the following day, but judging by the smiles all around I think I knew what the answer would be. Yolanda had only fallen once, which by her standards is a good day out, and they came awfully close to beating Mike and Adrian of Team Finding Vino 2 (a wholly inappropriate name - something like Team We've Got All The Snacks, and We'll Eat Them would have been more suitable).

Malan of Cycle Addiction (my LBS) promised to have my bike in tip top shape the next morning, although part of me wished he couldn't fix it and I would get to ride the rest of the event with my wife.

Stage Two

The A bunch contenders
If there is a better day of cycling to be had in a bike race in South Africa, I would like know about it. With 60% of the course on single track, stage two promised to give those of us with a smidgen of technical skill an advantage over the bunch of roadies we found ourselves racing against.

Is there a better place to ride than this?
Once again, the pace from the gun was frenetic, and I struggled to keep the back of Red John in sight. My legs felt better than the squishy noodles I'd had for legs the previous day, but between the traffic and the occasional hill I wasn't making good progress. A cunning bit of forward thinking by Red John had him dragging me up the steepest hill of the day into some single track ahead of a mixed team, and we slowly caught all the teams we were racing against. Some track cycling like slingshots later and we were on the back of the bunch as we slowly started to climb again.

Just as we were getting a gap over the bunch, a water point appeared, and in a move that I'll be mocked about for a long time, I stopped for something to drink. Apparently it isn't cool to stop at water points when you're racing, and that is only something the guys further down the field do. Sensing Red John's scorn, and the lack of any future offers of a tow I dug deep and managed to rejoin the bunch that we'd been with. To make amends for my amateur water point behaviour I kept the pace going, and before we got to the top of the hill, we had opened up a nice gap on the bunch going into the best single track of the day at Lebanon.

Perfect conditions for bike racing
My shock and front brake working flawlessly, we were able to increase the gap as we exited Lebanon and headed towards Thandi, and the next water point. Before we could even see the water point I was told that under no circumstances were we stopping. As we whizzed through the water point, I didn't even dare to look at the cups of coke, and kept my eyes firmly glued to Red John's bum when I suddenly realised that for the first time all day he was showing signs of taking strain (he probably should have stopped for a cup of coke at the water point, but I didn't dare voice that opinion). Red John started to struggle in the final 10kms, so I was able to repay the earlier pushes and slingshots as we raced towards the finish, desperate to keep the gap over a bunch of riders that were steadily gaining on us. With the exception of Tennis Playing Pete, we were able to hold on, and eventually crossed the line in 3h01. It was nice to know that Red John felt pain too. We'd lost 2 places overall, and one place in our category, but had a nice buffer over the teams behind us. It was also nice to know that we'd ridden 11 minutes faster than Little John - perhaps now the persistent mutterings of my lack of technical skill could finally be put to bed.

Yolanda's penance for riding her bike
Several hours later the ladies arrived in a sprint finish for 382nd place, and much like her husband, FFS Nadine's sprinting skills let Team Pinky and the Brain down. This didn't dampen their spirits at all, the grinning from ear to ear continued well up until dinner time. Team Finding Vino 2 had miscalculated their nutritional requirements versus the distance remaining, and with one kilometer to go had to stop for an energy gel. It was only several hours later that Mike stopped bouncing off the walls.

Post stage torture massage
Stage Three

For those of us staying in the tents, stage 3 began at 2am with a howling wind signalling the arrival of the cold front that we all knew was coming but were too scared to talk about. For once, those carrying a few extra kilos were at an advantage as several stick like racing snakes awoke to find themselves half way across the Western Cape. At around 4:30am I was finally able to fall asleep as the wind died down, only to be awoken by the sound of torrential rain, followed shortly thereafter by a phone call from Red John somewhere in the vicinity of BotRivier, letting me know that today Starsky would be going solo. Hutch's sub 5% body fat would not be enough to keep him alive on a bike in freezing conditions.

Pinky putting up a pyjama protest
I wasn't too phased by the conditions - my trusty pair of arm warmers were at hand, and I'd seen worse in the form of the still spoken about in hushed tones 100 Miler of 2009. It looked like Pinky (or perhaps in this case - The Brain) was also going to withdraw, citing a well crafted list of excuses, ranging from the fear of pneumonia to the cost of replacing bike components, depending on who she was speaking to.

The food tent looked like a refugee camp
Just before the start time at 7am, the organisers decided to delay the start for another hour while they frantically put plan B, C and D into action. This was like a stay of execution for many - we'd made the decision to ride, had mentally prepared for a wet, soggy day out on the bike, only to be forced to huddle in the warm, dry food tent as we awaited their decision.

Nervously awaiting the final decision
At 8am, a rather nervous looking congress of commissars stepped on stage and announced that after much deliberation and head scratching, stage three of Wines2Whales was being cancelled, and that this year's edition of the race would be known as Wines2Waters forevermore (it was that, or cut off the second W on the medal). Judging by the cheers in the tent, they had made the right decision, even if we all were a little sad not to be riding into Onrus. Overall results would consist of the first two days of racing, which meant that Team Starsky and Hutch had met the goals set out before stage one - a top 20 overall (17th) and a top 10 in our category (7th). I was glad the stage was cancelled, not because of the weather and the conditions, but because it gave us an official finish, rather than a DNF. The real Starsky and Hutch would never have gone their separate ways!

Snow in the background
A wet and cold looking race village
As for Team Pinky and the Brain, they managed a credible 12th place in the ladies, and 6th place in their category (out of 13 and 6 respectively). Mike and Adrian were quite disappointed too, although I'm not sure what they were more disappointed about, not riding the final stage, or missing the opportunity to stop at 3 water points for potatoes, oranges, bananas and coke. Perhaps next year Red John will let me ride with Team Finding Vino 2 - I think I missed out on a whole other side of Wines2Waters.

Who brings an umbrella to a bike race?
And now you know why we call him Little John

Our thoughts go out to the families of the 3 workers who lost their lives building part of the course.