Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2014 Coronation Double Century

The Double Century was scheduled for 222 November. This year we made double sure we had an entry, ending up with two entries. Fortunately it was easy to cancel one.

Plan started in May and we had our first training ride on 9 August. The team members were fairly “flexible” in that we took our time filling the team up. Clive Kerr, who rode with us in 2011 managed to “draft” some strong men from Paarl. Sieg also managed to get a couple of hard riders from Metropolitan, who also agreed to provide tops. Hennie de Clercq decided at the second last training ride that he was not ready, but I managed to get Eugene van Niewenhuizen to join us on the same day and he replaced Hennie. Danie  Kotze injured his knee two months before the race and decided that 200 km will not be good for his knee, so he withdrew two weeks before the due date. During the next week one of the metropolitan guys, Nigel Shannon, was informed that he had to e bib Bangkok during the weekend of the DC. One of the Paarl guys managed to draft in Andries Duminy at short notice, but we could not find a replacement for Danie. During the last week Clive and Sieg withdrew due to illness. We therefore were due to start with only 9 riders.

Race day was a little chaotic with Eugene waiting for us at the start and the rest of us waiting for him in the Main Street! When we finally got together we realized that his number and top was still in the Main Street. He therefore had to go and fetch that before he could start, but we were due to be off in 2 minutes! We arrived at the start just in time for our starting time, but without Eugene. So all we could do was to cross the start line and wait for Eugene on the other side. While some guys sped off into the distance, Gert and myself waited for Eugene, who arrived 5 minutes later. At last we were off at a reasonable pace, hoping to catch up with the rest soon. This happened after about another 15 minutes and at last we were in one group.

The initial part of the course is fairly flat so it was easy to maintain a reasonable pace. By the time we reached the bottom of Tradouw Pass, our average speed was 30 kph, in spite of the fact that we started 5 minutes late! En route to Suurbraak we were caught by the team, which contained my brother’s two sons. Some interesting inter changes were exchanged while we were riding together. They started after us and we managed to pus away from them. Some of my team members were also concerned about my rear tyre being flat. My response was that it was not so flat that it was bumping through, so I decided to continue until it really became a problem

The weather was just about perfect and we really had a nice ride. It was misty with coolness in the air. The mist disappeared after the first hour. The temperature remained below 20 degrees Celsius for the first 2:46. By this time we were on top of On the Tradouw, where the first scheduled stop was. We agreed to give this stop a miss and carried straight on. Our average speed dropped to 25.2 by the time we went over the top. I did managed to work up quite a bit of heat going up the pass, with my heart rate going up to 101%. Once over the top, to undulations to Montague started.  With the good whether we were having, it was quite easy to maintain a good average speed. Teams were also working together helping one another resulting in an increase in average speed.

At 76 kilometers, Nelis had a flat. My rear tyre was holding out well, but I did take the opportunity to inflate it as well as the front. Both held to the end! Gert and myself decided to continue on while the others help to fix the flat. We were caught by the rest of the group in a short space of time and the pace increased again when everybody was together. Somewhere before Montague, Gert started picking up problems with cramps and Eugene and myself got separated from the group. Eugene decided to take it on himself to pace me and I had my work cut out to stay in his slipstream. We arrived at the neutral stop at Ashton 5 minutes after the rest of the group and after 117 km and 4:15. That gave us an average of just over 27.5 kph. The group spent 23 minutes at the stop, with Eugene and myself only using 18 minutes. The cramps got the better of Gert and he pulled out at Ashton.

The road to Robertson is fairly flat and the pace was hot. After about 5 km I decided that the pace was too hot for me. When the guys looked around for me, I indicated for them to maintain their pace and leave ne behind. That was the last time I saw them! I now had the prospect of another 80 km all on my own! We had a bit of breeze on our backs and I just maintained my pace. O turning left at Robertson, the wind turned to diagonally form the front. It was not too strong so it was not a serious problem. Some groups came past me, but by the time I realised that I should try to tag onto them, they were gone. After a while I managed to jump onto a group and kept up with them. This was happening all the way to the second neutral stop at Bonnievale. I was well pleased to see our seconding vehicle still waiting. The reaction form the ladies gave me the impression that they did not expect me! I had something to eat and filled my bottles, which were more that half full, with ice and was on my way after 10 minutes. It took me 1:45 to cover the 47 km, giving an average speed of 26.85 kph. According to the pace I was maintaining, I was going to come in at about 7:45, but anything can happen over the last number of hills, which can bring once average down quite a bit.

I managed to hang onto various groups as they came past up to the last water point at 177 km, covering the 14 km in 45 minutes. The terrain was getting hillier and it was reflected in my average speed. The balance of the route was more uphill than downhill and I prepared myself for a nice “grind” to the end. Just before we reached the R60, George Wienekus, who rode with me in June during the Freedom Challenge, came past. I did managed to keep up with his team for a while, but they dropped me on the second last hill. His team started 6 minutes after us. On one of the last hills towards Swellendam, I did notice some team members from my bother’s son’s team on the last hills into Swellendam. It transpired that they came in after our team, but before me in their overall time. From the top of the last hill a group formed and we worked together nicely up to the end.

The end does have a nasty sting in the tail with 34 meters of climbing over a distance of 800 meters. According to my timer I was going to finish in less than 8 hours! I gave it all up this last hill and crossed the line in 7:55! After taking the neutral stops into consideration that would probably come down to 7:30. Quite an achievement considering that we have not managed to break 8 hours since 2005! The composition of the team had a lot to do with that and we definitely had the strongest team this year.


The final time for the team was 7:05:13 and my time was 7:19:59.

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