Sunday, January 30, 2011
24 hours of Oak Valley
The next step in my preparation for the Freedom Challenge, was the 24 hours of Oak Valley presented by Dirtopia at Oak Valley Farm, Elgin on 29/30 January 2011. We aim was to get some extended time in the saddle and also to see what I feel like after such a long ride. I may just find that I have to spend some extended time in the saddle during the Freedom Challenge and then I will at least be able to call on this experience. I asked my brother to second for me. We left Bloubergstrand at 08:45 and arrived at Oak Valley at 09:45, giving me ample time to register and giving my brother the opportunity the set himself up for the time that we will be spending there. We found quite a nice spot, which was not too far out of the way of the actual course. I could thus quite easily pop into our "refreshment station".
The race got off promptly at 12:00 with a Le Mans start. We had to run the length of a rugby field to get to our bicycles! I got away towards the back, but once again it did not bother me too much. I was here to enjoy the experience and not to race. The race was open for Solo riders and teams. ??? solo riders entered and ?? teams. Teams had five categories of 4 riders per team and a fun category with 5-8 riders per team.
The course was approximately 9 km long with 105 meters of climbing per lap. Most of the climbing happened in the first 3 km of the lap. There also was a very nice down hill and some interesting "fence crossings" as well as three sections of single track among some trees. There also was a "nasty" downhill section of approximately 50 meters, which was getting slipperier as the race progress, due to some water seepage. A lap took between 25 and 35 minutes to complete. My time varied between 28:55 and 37:36 for riding time. I did drop in for some "extended rests" at my "support station" after dark, with the result that some lap times extended to 50-60 minutes.
I decided to "push on" for as long as I felt reasonably OK. Before dark, I did notice that a guy with a Hammer Nutrition cycling top passed me at least three times. Fatigue did not really set in and I felt so good after some of the extended rests that I decided to keep going. I was quite surprised in the early morning hours, when I was informed that I have taken "the lead". I was not quite sure what was ment with this comment, but at that stage my closest rival was Hanneli Booysen, who was sleeping. I therefore decided to keep going for as long as possible. By nine o'clock, my brother was informed that I was so far ahead in the Solo category, that I can go and have a sleep until 11:45 as nobody would overtake me. I did not really believed this and just kept going. Everything was working fine. My bike was 100% reliable and I had no mechanical problems. I only oiled the change three times, as the course was becoming very dusty. My back side was getting quite tender and I picked up a "chafe mark" on my right hand. My left knee was giving some minor problems, but regular extensions and the extended rests, cured that. My legs were "OK" but could feel I have been in the saddle for awhile. The muscles at the back of the neck also tend to start hurting. I managed to turn out regular laps of 35 minutes and felt quite confident that if I managed to keep this up, I may just win the race!
The rules stipulated that all laps started before 12:00 on Sunday will be counted, but must be completed. By 10:00 I felt confident that I would be able to complete 4 and start a 5th lap before 12:00. I duly started my second last lap at 11:02 and therefore quite easily managed a final lap, which I completed at 12:20. 39 laps, 343 km and the surprise winner of the Solo Mens category. The guy from Hammer Nutrition finished second. He picked up major problems with cramps after 14 laps and that is why I managed to beat him. So I picked a Princeton cycling light and a cash prize of R1,000 for the weekend's effort. Not a bad return for a wonderful event, which was well organised at a good venue. Even the weather was kind. Although Saturday afternoon was hot, it cooled down during the evening and Sunday morning turned out overcast. The clouds did disappear by about 10:30, but by that time there was only 1 hour 30 minutes to go.