At the edge of dispair...

At the edge of despair…

To most, this is just photo of me on my bike, riding along some arb road, doing some arb cycle race.  But I remember the exact place where this pic was taken.  I know exactly how I felt.  I dared not look around or speak to anyone.  The only thing on my mind was the fact that the stomach cramps were back, and so began my plea to the universe:

Pleasepleasepleaseplease don’t let me poop my pants…

Having received special permission from my office to ride Die Burger Cycle Tour, I was a little concerned when my tummy expressed its general unhappiness by refusing to hold onto any kind of nutrition.

It was already a tough week for me.  Da Husband was on a fishing trip in Mozambique with his Knitting Circle, which effectively put me on full-time kiddie duty and brought my training to a grinding halt.  This, in turn, triggered serious anxiety about my lack of progress and performance during the most important phase of our training.  Things were not going well.

Friday:  thought I could remedy the situation by having some cake.  Big mistake.  Technically… no food.

Saturday: had some water, rehidrat and vitathion.  No food.

Sunday: After spending the entire night travelling from my bed to the bathroom and back, I asked myself at 3am whether riding was such a good idea.  Would it be wise to ride 92km after not eating for two full days and having nothing in my system? What was the worst that could happen?  So I decided to leave it to the race gods – or in this case, the race doctor.  Yes, I decided, I will only withdraw if the good Doctor Basil tells me to.

On my way to pick up Sofie and Meg, I got a BBM from our Sof that she was no longer riding.  WHAT?  Our very own Die Hard? What on earth could keep our little DH from joining us on the start line?  PLUS… we need her.  We can’t race without Sofie! I can’t race without Sofie!!

But when I got to her building I realised that this was the real thing.  Sofie wasn’t looking great and needed to take the day off to look after herself.  And after big hugs and goodbyes, Meg and I left Sofie and Radesh standing in the garage, and made our way to Stellenbosch.

Take two of these and call me in the morning

The second thing I did when I arrived in Stellenbosch (the first was a pit-stop at the nearest portaloo) was going straight to the medical area to speak to the staff, basically asking them to help cement me up for the next four to five hours.  And after downing two Immodiums, I booked myself into the start compound and waited for my group’s start.

92km on Immodium & Coke

With Plan A (gunning for 3:45) out the window and Plan B (taking it easy but still making 4 hours) slowly disappearing from view, I decided to rather take easy, enjoy the ride on my crampy empty stomach, and make the most of all the water points on the route.

This was obviously my first Burger Cycle Tour.  Before my move to the Geek Retreat (the IT team), I used to spend Race Day compiling live race updates for the social networks, processing prize giving protocol sheets, etc.  And, despite having written so much about the event, and knowing the route profile like the back of my hand, I had no frame of reference.  Being directionally challenged also played a part!

Old Helshoogte was a surprisingly pleasant climb.  Despite the “straight-up lung and leg-busting” incline on the route profile, the hairpin bends and sheltering of the trees ensured that I didn’t realise the full extent of the climb until I had reached the top.  And by then it was too late to panic about it as the reward of a free-flowing downhill was waiting.

The next thing I knew, I had reached refreshment point 2 (where I downed two Cokes, basically setting the standard for every water point that followed thereafter).  Sadly, as much as I had looked forward to stopping at Die Burger’s sponsored snack point at WP2, I knew that all the awesome snacks they had on offer would be wasted on me, so I pressed on.

The route is certainly pretty.  While it doesn’t sport the wildlife and crystal clear lagoon of the Langebaan Challenge, Die Burger Cycle Tour’s long route now holds a special place in my heart.

In addition to riding through Stellenbosch and Paarl, riders get to ride past some of the smaller villages along the way and the route is dotted with many wine farms.  The views are spectacular and the rolling hills provide enough of a challenge to novice and experienced rider alike.

I must admit that it felt a little demotivating to be passed by so many people, but I also knew that my energy levels were at an all-time low and that I was doing my best under trying circumstances.

Most of my team mates didn’t know that I was sick, and a few paused alongside me for a quick chat before disappearing into the distance.  But the highlight was seeing some of the riders that were part of our novice cyclist programme last year, tackling the 92km like old pros.  Boy, was I proud of them!

Very soon we were getting closer to the finish and we started to encounter short course riders.  I don’t always think schadenfreude  is a nice thing, but since I didn’t have much else going for me at that point, it felt cool to pass 44km cyclists that were pushing their bikes up those final hills…

My time in the end was 4:24.  About 30 minutes slower than my original target time.  And when I finally caught up with Meg, she told me about the rest of the group’s great times and smashed PBs.  I’m so pleased for them!

Die Burger Cycle Tour was our final long race for the year.  This weekend it’s back to Rawsonville and Brandvlei Prison for the JailBreak triathlon, our final tri before our big race in January.

Race Day Lessons:

  • My saddle is too low.
  • I am able to push my body beyond what I thought was possible.
  • Nursery rhymes are great to recite during a hill-climb.
  • Two Immodiums DO cement you up.

Ironman 70.3 is 47 days away.