Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Cycling done!

Jonathan Moorhead said in a comment to my previous post, ""Trepidation"?! That's an understatement!" Well, now that the race is finished, I think I should have had a lot more trepidation!

The trip down to Cape Town was fairly uneventful, except for this huge swarm of locusts that we had to drive through (and again on the way back home). Apart from slamming into the car, they also slammed into our bikes on the bike rack.

The weather was fine up until the morning of the race. The thing about Cape Town is that it is always possible to experience all four seasons in one day. I suppose that is why it was also called the "Cape of Storms" by the sailors who had to sail around there two/three centuries ago. As we prepared to cycle across to the start, it started raining. So, my wife and I put our rain ponchos on before we cycled across. As we got to the start it stopped raining; so, off came the ponchos!

The biggest sponsor of the race, Pick & Pay, made breakfast available to the riders. That included muffins, Bar-Ones (like, but way better than a Mars bar), bananas, apples, juice, yoghurt and coffee. We just didn't have the coffee.

The race started with the announcement that the oldest man on the race that day was born in 1919 (+-87) and the oldest woman was born in 1925 (+-81). Together my wife and I (on the tandem) make 81. So, I guess it would be fine if the old lady beat us! After about 15 minutes from the start of our group (social tandems) the rain came pouring down! So, to make things easier for us (?), we decided to put our ponchos back on. At least we did not get soaking wet. Yet, about 15 minutes later the rain stopped and the heat started picking up. You guessed it! We stopped to take the ponchos off. Right here I decided that for the rest of the day, no more ponchos!

We soon realized that we were not prepared for this race. It was our third time and we kinda knew that we weren't prepared, but riding it confirmed it ten times over! Being so unfit, we needed to make use of our tandem's granny gear. However, for some reason it didn't want to shift down to the granny gear. So, we had to stop a couple of times to manually shift it! What a day of fun and enjoyment!

We probably could have cut off about half an hour, but while riding I just had to help two people in need. The first was a lady next to the road who was busy trying to pump her front tyre. As we approached her, I could see her looking up every now and again, so I stopped to help. "I need someone to pump this tyre. I don't have enough strength to pump it up hard enough!", she said. I quickly discovered that she did not have a nice hand pump for the job. So, I grabbed my own and that front tyre was pumped hard in quick time! She was just so grateful for the help and she offered to pay us in jelly-babies! So sweet! This happened at about 40Km (24.8mi) into the race.

Next, half-way up Chapman's Peak (about 85Km - 52.8mi), I saw a young boy--about 13 years old--fall off his bike clutching his quads with a contorted face. "CRAMP" was written all over his face! I just had to stop. I let him lie down flat and started massaging his quads. A little while later someone gave us some gel to rub into his leg. My wife did the honours! I finally let him stretch his leg a bit and with a "Thank you for the good advice!" he was off on his bike again! We never saw these two again! I suppose that with 38,333 entrants and about 34,000 starters on the day, it would not have been easy to see them again anyhow!

Somewhere along the route I had to stop at a medical tent for physio myself. Both my quads felt like I was cycling with knives stuck in them.

We finally made the finish, but we vowed that this was the last time we did a race of this magnitude and intensity while being as unfit as we are right now! A lot of factors contributed to us being so unfit, such as the elections and my own involvement in that.

Was it worth it? I don't know. Ask me in a couple of months time! This race definitely has a vibe that few other races have. People were sitting in their fold-up chairs in the rain cheering us on! Luckily it didn't rain the whole time. The rain was short lived but the wind continued for quite some time.

Next time I will be fit. I promise! :-)

Just thinking...

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