Thursday, 19 March 2015

Cape Epic - Stage 4

Another day and another long hot stage.

We rolled out again at 7am and straight into some shitty gravel roads.  No crashes for a change and it seemed all a bit calmer today.

We had a few climbs near the start and I felt quite good. Somewhere we went through a game park early on.  I missed seeing the Rhino which was apparently 20 metes from us and it was not behind a fence.  Post the few climbs there was quite a good group and maybe 10 teams were all together Looked down somewhere and we were already 50km in.  

It stayed like this till maybe 80 km.  I got a telling off from someone for always passing them on corners.  Wasn't intentional just they are slow.  Seemed to be some frayed tempers as earlier two others were having a go at each other.  My response was just to chill out and relax...the race isn't won and lost over little things.

Had my first mishap where the rear tyre had very little pressure.  Quick bomb but that was it we were off the group.  Filled up at and impromptu water point and lost my head for the next 20 mins.  Steep hot climb.  Got back into it on the next and promptly had the chain jam between cassette and spokes. I was trying to make up time and asked two slower riders to move over which they did.  Straight past them and bang straight into a rock.  Cursing and swearing I had to plug it twice and use two bombs.

Fanie was waiting for me at the water point just before the timing beam.  He stopped counting how many teams went past us at eleven but it was probably more.  Just for good measure not long after the water point I dropped the chain again and had to top up the air in the rear once more.

Post this we put the hammer down.  Think we manged to pass three teams before the end over the last fifteen kilometres.  We got our highest place stage finish today and highest place in class as well.  We even moved up to 60th on GC and to 13th in class.  Would have been better but everyone will have a bike issue at some point.

Both of us felt good post finish and I managed an ice bath and shower and massage in record time.  Had my feet up all day post finish and I feel well on the road to recovery for tomorrow.  Only three more days to go.

Stage place 11th, GC 56th
Over all 13th, GC 60th

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Cape Epic - Stage 3

Well after yesterday's horrible stage today must be better.

First thing this morning was picking up the bike and seeing what they had fixed.  They had replaced all four rear wheel bearings and the three bearings in the rear pivot on the suspension.  First impressions off the line was that I'd suddenly let the handbrake off.  Some of the rear bearings where so screwed that you couldn't turn them by hand.

The day was bright and sunny and forecast to be quite hot.  We once again started with the pros.  Absolutely great with helicopters flying so low over you that it feels like you can touch them.  Lots of dust and excitement,  so much that the first crash was on about the third corner.  We had a great first 40km.  Big group and up over the climbs with them.  Some much stronger teams around else helping into the wind.

We did a splash and grab at the first water point for just one bottle.  Seems to be one thing we can do well which is arrive after teams and leave before them.  A big group of maybe seven teams formed after this.  All was going well until a big long downhill.  Very dusty into the sun and you couldn't see anything.  Came around a corner on a double track and into a big rut in the road.  I cleared it but Fannie had a woman cut him off and he bit the dust at approx 40 km/h.  I waited at the bottom of the hill and one of the woman said my teammate had crashed.  Not what you want to hear.  Fortunately nothing to major but scrapes and bruises.

We were on our own after this. The group was just ahead but pointless chasing in our own to get back on.  Next stop was 80km for full water and a few cokes and a lube.  Straight after this up into another climb.  We could still see the group ahead but various teams were now dropping off.  The climb was long and hot and now about 35 degrees.  It didn't take me long after this to start feeling crappy.  More water at 100km or so and we were mainly on our own.  There was a deep sandy section which we both did badly at.  Maybe 2km long and it was a lot of running and walking. 

The last 20km had an awful section across a damn which was soft rough stone.  No traction but ridable.  A team steamrolled me here but it ended on a sandy walk again so I was back on.  I must have sat on the back for 10km before a rocky climb uphill and into the wind saw me dip off the back. Fanie towed me into another awful headwind to get us home.

Stage Postion 13th, GC 57th

Over all 14th, GC 62nd

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Cape Epic - Stage 2

The day from hell...

I'd love to remember something about today but the fact is I can't

I can remember suffering like a dog for the last 30 km but something was just not right with me all day.  I also remember Fanie telling me more than once to get my crap together and get on with it.  Something that was far beyond me as a load of teams passed us towards the end.

I can also remember the large cracking noise somewhere to the end of the stage.  It turns out later that that noise was the bearings in the rear wheel disintegrating whilst I rode.  They could not turn the bearings in the wheel by hand afterwards so this was probably the big reason for the crappy day.

The only other thing I remember was having to sit straight down after the stage whilst the legs starting cramping.  Not sure if this was due to the effort or just the day that was.  The wife manged to see me on live TV post stage which was not great.

Stage position 15th in class, 70th overall

GC 14th in class, 66th overall

Monday, 16 March 2015

Cape Epic - Stage 1

So today we had 113km and 2800hm metres.

We were fortunate enough to be in the 2nd pen with our time yesterday and even beside Sally Bigham in a pro team.  Wish we had he support like them.  Mechanics with warm up rollers and all the spares you could imagine.

The Gun went at 7am for the start and it was fast and furious.  So much for a Neutral 7km behind the cars.  Lots of small crashes and a lot of lock ups when the road got narrow and the bikes just did not fit. fortunately Myself and Fannie made it unscathed.

We hit the first dirt road 10km with sun straight in our eyes and dust everywhere.  Helicopter buzzing us about 5 meters above us for the show,  however I think we had visibility of about 3 metres.

I struggled up the first climb for a bit, the second which was steeper and rougher I was not so bad on. It was nice them calling out our names at the top over the PA and then I heard ,Malcolm "Your wife wants to give you a message - Go Malcolm and Fanie, Go"  We settled into a good rhythm which meant Fanie leading and me at the back...the terrain was very varied and we went through everything from rough ,rocky and mountainous, to bush and farmland.

Somewhere before the water point two I had my first puncture.  We plugged it and bombed it and we were back on the road within a minute two.

Passed through water point two and grabbed new bottles and lubed the bikes.  We hooked up with the leading mixed team.  The technique with them was when it pointed up the woman grabs the mans pocket for the boost up.  Unfortunately that holds up who's behind.  We pulled out as it was 5-10% to slow for me.  Of course then I did the dumb thing went a bit fast and straight off line into a rock.

Queue the 2nd puncture of the day.  It was raining  and mud and grit everywhere and we could not find the puncture.  Swearing and cursing it was down very low just above the edge of the rim.  We lost maybe 3-4 mins with this one.
From here on uneventful run to the finish.  We spent the rest of the ride passing other riders till the finish.

We were 12th in class and 63rd overall for the stage.
We moved up to 14th in class and 66th overall.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Cape Epic - Prologue

So today we had the first stage.

Basically this stage is a bit of fun but the real purpose is to seed the riders so that we don't all start together.  Our start time was 7:13am.  We weren't sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing.  The weather was cooler so probably the best for us.  The pros got to start around midday and rather than the 18 degrees we go they got closer 27.

Me and Fanie had a plan to just climb at a steady 300 watts.  I looked down and was at 420 watts about 500 metres in.  We had already passed a team by then as well.  The basic course was a touch of single track and rolling hills with a climb (not that big) till about 12 km.  I lost count of how many teams we passed but easily more than 20. 

Tarmac road from 12km and then down the hill with some fun single track to the finish.  There was a look of talk about a bridge and it being dangerous and steep.  If you look at the picture above you will see it was nothing...Don't know what they were on about.  All ridable and not to dangerous. (Although apparently someone rode off it and broke their back). We were fortunate and had passed all the teams on the way up.  We didn't get stuck behind anyone and finished in a respectable 58 mins.  This put us about 80th overall and 18th in our class.  We needed to do about 54 mins to be in the top 10.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

2015 Races

Here we are

Sitting in the cold and finally had a big dump of snow.

2015 race plans have been finalised and the big races already entered

Feb - Morroco Training camp
March - Cape Epic
June - Elsa Bike, Bergibike, Sella Ronda Hero
August - Eiger Bike, Grand Raid, National Park Bike
September - O-Tour, Iron Bike

Hoping for some impressive race results and the power is looking better than last year allready.  Now to get well, train hard and loose a few KG's

Monday, 18 August 2014

Eiger Bike - Swiss Marathon Champs

Post holiday it was time for another race.  Time to put all that road work behind me and back to the serious stuff.  Always one of those moments of how well has my training been going.  Especially when you have not really been following what your supposed to be doing and have just been doing it by feel.

The Eiger bike race this year was the Swiss National Marathon champs.  There were some big names there but once again I was too far back in the pack to see any of them.

To say that it was one of the nicest days riding of the year was an understatement.  There was a fresh round of snow above about 2800 metres and it was just on 4 degrees at the start.  Complete clear skies and the imposing north face of the Eiger as a back drop for the whole race.  I know it would warm up quickly over the day to start it was more or less straight up a big hill with 1000 metres of climbing before down a bit and then back up again.  The race course was 88km long with 3900 metres of climbing.

We got to start in one big group and I thought wow the big boys are taking it easy today.  Nice and relaxed start with heart rate in a good zone for me.  Wasn't long before that was all over.  Heart rate after about 5km was at full max and had a to back off that few percent to remain in control.  Tried to focus on staying with a woman but she rode away from me.  Turns out it was Ariane Kleinhans, last years Swiss champ and winner of a huge number of big races around the world.

Down the first hill and back up to First before going down some ultra steep trails on tarmac.  Narrow with lots of grip but oh so fast.  I was thinking it would be impossible to ride them back up the other way. Sure enough along came the steep bits to go back up.  Oh boy it was steep.  Smallest gear occasionally off the seat trying to keep the momentum going.  3-4 km long climb with extremely steep ramps in it of 22-26% at 200 metres long.  Small break and then repeat about 5 times with the gradient dropping slowly dropping towards the top.  However it went from tarmac to gravel before it was grass and I didn't see many ride the end bit.  Huge crowds were cheering everybody on and somehow I managed to stay on the bike and ride over the top.

Huge downhill after this for a big rest.  I was riding with two others and one of them was like a 14 year old kid.  Thought he was doing fairly well till I realised that he was doing a 20 km loop and I was already at over 45k.  All the guys around me were doing the shorter loops.  When we split it was a very lonely ride. All the way from 1000 metres high all the way back up to 2000 metres again.

Only a few riders around me and managed to pass quite a few on the climb.  I did have one steamroll past me at the top of the climb though.  The top of Kleine Scheidegg was a relief and the views were amazing.  Jungfrau on my left as I went through.  Two spectators were yelling Bravo, at me and I asked it they'd turned around and seen the view behind them.  Simply stunning.

The down was uneventful and I'm sure one maybe two riders came past me.  No big deal.  I knew I wasn't doing that bad and I'm not the fastest down hiller.  Something about age and fear I think.  I've also realised it's better to finish in one piece than die trying.

I finished in 13th place in class and 69th overall.  Very happy with this.  Such a dream day on the bike and the views just amazing.