Sunday, March 3, 2013

Argus MTB Challenge

I decided to treat my wife to a “night out” after the Grape Escape and before the Argus MTB Challenge, which was due to be run on the Sunday. We managed to find place at Val d’Or, so after the third stage of the Grape Escape, we booked in there.

I worked out that it would take me about 35 minutes to cycle to the start, so I left at 06:10, arriving at the start at 06:40, meeting to fellow competitors along the way.

The race got going at 07:05 and the pace was hectic from the start, with the result that I was about last after 10 minutes of riding! After 24 minutes the first guys from AB, who started 5 minutes later, passed me. I decided to just carry on at my own pace and enjoy the day.

We had a number of loops through the vineyards and over the grounds of Plaisir de Merle, where we encountered the first water point after 22 kilometers and 1 hour 3 minutes of riding. Shortly after this we started the first big climbs of the day, 204 meters in 6 kilometers. At this point I came across Fred van Zyl, one of the former winning of my age category on the Attakwas. It was not long before I felt that familiar feeling of a rear tyre going flat again. This was confirmed by one of the riders who passed me. So I pulled over at administered the “bomb treatment” again. At the next water point I pumped it again with a foot pump, hoping the leak will heal by itself with the Stans Notubes tyre sealant. The serious climbs of the day was now in progress! This climb lasted for 5 kilometers with a total ascent of 228 meters. Just after going over the top, the feeling of a rear tyre going flat re-appeared. I stopped and decided to try using my pump, only to discover that it was in my other bag, which was at home, so I had to use my last bomb. While using this, I noticed that the value was coming apart and that that was why I had a leak. There was nothing I could do, but to continue riding and hope for the best. After a while I saw a pump lying in the road. I quickly pulled over and retrieved it. At least now I could pump the wheel next time it went flat, which was shortly afterwards. As I was undoing the top of the value, the whole front part came out and disappeared into the under growth. Now I had only one option left. Use a tube. Before I could put the tube in, I had to ensure that there were no thorns stuck in the tyre. I inspected the tyre and found two. After removing them, I put the tube in, the tyre on and started pumping. It was working and after a delay of 12 minutes, I was on my way again. This happened after 38 kilometers and 2 hours 28 minutes of racing.

One of the benefits of having problems is the joy of passing all the slow guys who pasted you while you were sorting out the problem. I was now “flying” past some of the slower guys. This was  areal problem some of the singles tracks we encountered. The course was also mostly down hill now. This was until we went past Boschendal and onto the last loop, when the course started going more up than down again. With 10 kilometer to go, we went into the new area added for this year. The temperature was now reaching 37 degrees Centigrade and we climbed 128 meters over a distance of 4 kilometers. A number of guys were finding this very difficult, stopping and just resting or pushing their bikes very slowly. Fred van Zyl, who came past me while I had my tyre problem, was one of them! I was maintaining momentum and managed to cycle most of the ascent. The down hill towards the 5 kilometer to go water point was very rough, but there after the road surface improved steadily. I absolutely “raced” through the last river crossing, nearly giving the cameraman a free shower and onto the finish. 

Total time was 4:21:20 for the 65.84 kilometers with a total ascent of 1,144 meters. My actual riding time was 3:51:24

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