Anyway over the last 7 years, I have skipped 2 (pure laziness and fear of the race). Today was my 5th 94.7 Cycle Challenge and it was special!
Over the last few months I have not been riding much due to circumstances and I had not trained for the race at all!!! In fact, as of last night I doubted my ability to finish the race. I haven't been feeling great and was scared I would have a repeat of Crater Cruise so mentally distanced myself from the race and focused on the first part of the race which I knew I could complete.
On Cycle Challenge Sunday, I woke up at some daft hour and felt great!! I counted down the hours before I had to get up and ended up getting up earlier than planned and left home earlier than planned (thanks Dad for waking up so early). But, before I could leave I had to get myself ready. I put on my kit, made brekkies, sorted my amazing Ghost bike out, chilled with a cappuccino and mentally prepared myself. My brain was saying I had to race and I had to remind myself that today was a fun ride. It took a good while to reprogram my brain but by the time I got in the car I was ready to have fun.
The start was normal with once exception: this year I was starting in the same batch as Richard Harris. Now, Richard may not be a famous cyclist but when I met Richard, he was this awesome elite cyclist who did awesome times and races and I was a pleb newbie. I looked up to him as a cyclist, so to start in the same bunch as him was a personal wow moment. Richard and his wife are close friends of mine so more importantly, it was great to start with a friend! After lots of chatting, chirping and joking, we found ourselves racing off into the distance and I tried to keep on Richard's wheel - I lasted about 20m before he disappeared into the distance.
As we climbed onto the M1 highway I tried to stick to the bunch but pretty quickly I realized just how unfit I was and I popped out of the back of the bunch faster than a teenager sorts a zit out! I found myself leap frogging from straggler to straggler until I found some of the real heros of the ride: a family riding for the Chaeli Foundation. This husband and wife team rides with their little cerebral palsy kid named Nicki strapped into a special seat on the front of the husband's bike. This family not only does cycle races but they also do runs (with Nicki in a pram) and triathlons and Ironman competitions (with Nicki in a kayak)!! This trio is pretty darn inspiring!!
After riding with this family for a few kms, I decided to continue with my straggler hopping tactics as the race drew us to our first climb of the day. Going up this pretty cool climb we were entertained by St Johns school who had quirky Froome banners up (for those who don't know: Chris Froome is the guy who won the Tour de France this year and had gone to school at St Johns).
The heat was already starting up at that tender hour but onwards we went! Through town, past Ponte and then to the M2 highway where I saw the coolest place ever!! The "Bike Hospital". Unfortunately a big bunch came past me so I couldn't stop and take a picture but this is definitely a place I need to visit!!! On this stretch I came across Hardus who was also mucking about and slowed down and rode with him. On the Nelson Mandela bridge we stopped for some pics and then continued onto Jan Smuts avenue where I was planning a stop. Jan Smuts has always been my favorite section of the ride as it has beautiful trees and is lined with supporters and people out to see the mad people. Before I knew it I was at Fournos and was calling for My friend who was standing on the other side of the street. It was breakfast time!! Breakfast was an awesome bagel with bacon and eggs and 2 cappuccinos served with the great company of my awesome friend Carla and fellow nutty cyclist Hardus. The funniest part of breakfast was hearing that Richard always 14km from the finish as we were ordering the bill. (We were 64km from the finish!!) All good things must come to an end and likewise breakfast came to an end and I prepared myself for the tough bit. I plugged in my hands free earphones, fed the wire through my top and set off into the yonder!
Ok, I didn't get far as my hands free irritated me so I moved it from inside my top and then had this result in my hands free going through my spokes on a downhill so I had to stop and untangle broken wires before I could continue. Just before the main Jan Smuts avenue climb, I came across Angy and Werner and after a quick chat I got a beer off them and did the Jan Smuts climb with a real carbohydrate drink! Was kind of fun riding up and chirping the newbies about how good beer is for cyclists and then launching an attack and riding up to the next bunch!
My next stop was at Check Point Mulley which is where the Mulley family wait every year at half way. Mr & Mrs Mulley: every year I see you there and every year you encourage me. You have no idea how much your being there counts even though you are there for your daughter and not us randoms. This year, the coke you gave me saved me from cramps and dehydration and for that I am grateful!! Was also good to see my neighbor, Lisa, there and recovering well after her op! Hope you get better soon neighbor.
After this half way stop I cruised along Douglas drive in amazement as to how many people from my awesomely warm neighborhood come out each year to watch this race. The people of Douglasdale could actually beat the Capetonians when it comes to supporting a cycle race. Thank you fellow residents!!! After Douglas came Witkoppen with its steady climb that drains a person but is just a warning as after that came Malibongwe.
At this stage, those around me had lost their sense of humor and although tired of encouraging, I knew that these folks needed encouragement. 7 years ago at this point in the race there was a guy riding with a friend on his second lap and "coach" got us all through this section and the rest of the race. It was my time to pay it forward. Each rider I came up to I chatted to and I encouraged and they encouraged me by their attitudes.
The N14 which is normally the worst part of the race for everyone ended up being such a cool part for me as I was around a bunch of tired but happy people. The group chatted about random junk as we each suffered in our own ways. Personally, my quads started cramping and my juice started running out but my sense of humor remained and as long as I didn't stand up, all was good and the N14 ended in a much easier form than ever before. The next bit was the climb up to water point 8.... But just before the climb, I pulled off to say hi to some choc cows that I had met at the expo - thanks gals for the coke!! The climb itself was littered with broken cyclists either flopped on the ground or hobbling. I tried encouraging the suffering ones, telling them that there was an amazing water point up the road.
The one guy got mif withy encouraging chirping but one lady thankede fort helping her over the last few kms - that made my slow ride so worth it!!!
Coming up on waterpoint 8, I was excited to see my colleagues who had been at work since 3:30 and I was in dire need of liquid as my bottles were empty!! But, the team were insanely busy and I only saw 1 colleague as I stopped on the edge of the point to have the rest of the coke that he Mulleys had given me. As I pulled off, I spotted Susan! Richard's dads wife. I did a quick turn around and greeted her and then rode with her to where Rich's dad was. These two had waited for me. Despite Mr H's health and the long time between his son coming past and my going past, they waited. It meant so much to see them there that I got a bit chocked up with the hugs I got and the encouragement I received.
The next bit was just part of the motions with hills and downhills and good old heart break hill and people falling over from exhaustion. (I did stop at waterpoint 9 for coke and water though.)
Before I knew it, I was riding the last km and was riding with a woman who had only started riding within 3 months of he race! I rode in with her and as the timingat beeped, I was done with number 5.
It was a special one for me as since Liege, it hasn't been an easy time for me on the bike and I had not trained so I was forced to do a fun ride. I enjoyed the ride and the special people who I came across along he way all touched me. The Chaeli Foundation riders, Hardus, Carla, the Mulleys, the Smurfs, the cows, the un-named rider I rode to the end with and then Mr Harris and Delene who impacted me greatly. Thank you to you all!!
Since then, I have done a tiny bit of adventure. Last weekend, I rode with Raquel and her dad along the spruit. On the return journey we came across some people looking for their dog so we tried to find the dog bit couldn't find him so we continued our ride. I decided to attack the one hill and as I got to the top I saw a beautiful black Labrador who was clearly lost! I herded Harry towards Raquel and her dad and they escorted him down the hill whilst I tried to phone his owners who weren't picking up. At the bottom of the hill, I took the piece of material that was holding my spare tube to my bike off and made a make-shift lead and let Harry run next to me as we went to his family. It was so awesome seeing his mom cry with happiness at the sight of him. He was returned safe to his family and we had found him. That really was a great ride!!!!
The next adventure was today and had nothing to do with cycling. Today some of the dog park pack went off to the Lipizaner centre for a dog walk in aid of Kitty Puppy Haven (the place where I adopted KD from). After milling about for a while with K barking at the horses and chatting to our dog park friends, 9am arrived and it was time to walk the dogs! We started with the dogs on lead but not long after, some of us took our dogs off lead (as they are better behaved off lead) and the dogs had a blast! Lego and Gruffy got a bit distracted and went off on a tangent and we had to call for them to get them to find us. But they returned and all was good and Lego stuck to us like glue after that!!
Sadly for kph the route was shortened due to a gate not being opened sooner had to do 2 laps and do some exploring so the pups could explore a bit more and get more exercise.
At the end of lap 2, Gruffy got a bit too close to the fence and got "bitten" by the fence and went off like a baby! His big sister, Lego ran up to the fence to see what had bitten her brother but we all managed to call her off the fence before she got bitten! The rest of he pack and Lego checked up on Gruffy and made sure he was ok (humans included). All in all, it was an amazing day out with my dog park pack. Gals, thank you for being an awesome bunch of friends. Dogs: thanks kids for being the characters you are!
I am now off the bike for a few weeks but am going to use the time to contemplate the next adventure!
But, that doesn't mean that the blog stops. Cycling isn't the only adventure one can have and I promise there will be some adventures shortly!