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Don’t Peak Too Early

Updated: Mar 12, 2019

Because I am training for the C2C I can’t afford to come here, taper and then race and go home (listen to me trying to sound like I am racing, knob). I have been viewing this trip more like an exotic training camp and intend to ride all four days here. Recently Saturdays have been set aside to ride hills and I have been going out with a group a friends from WLRCC to find local hills and do reps of them. There’s no need for that here. There are hills of every variety and so this morning I set out to extend yesterday’s route by adding the section up to Chapmans Peak. 

On the way up the north side of Suikerbossie I passed a guy on an identical Bianchi Infinito and complemented him. He caught me at the top of the climb and it turns out he was over from Scotland to do the race and had started the same year as me, 2010. We chatted about the wind, expected finish times and his Dad being mugged while riding his bike here last week (a car pulled alongside him, the front passenger pulled the bike over to the car and rear passenger took his phone out of back pocket before they both pushed him off!). It seems that Scottish Bianchi Guy (or SBG as we shall call him now) was heading in exactly the same direction as me, but rather than ride together, he shot off down hill, never more than 200m in front of me. When we hit the bottom of Chapman’s Peak Drive I could see him a few corners ahead. My ego got the better of me and I decided to chase him down (up?). 

Chapmans Peak Drive from the north side is 5km long and averages 4%, but starts with a nasty short section at 17%. SBG had slowed right down here and I had already halved the distance within 500m. Another 500m and I was on him. I paused briefly behind him, just in case he was sandbagging. No one wants to overtake and fail to make it stick right? I passed him and then buried myself to lose him. This was (a) stupid considering the race is tomorrow and (b) stupid because it now meant he could just sit on my back wheel. Which he duly did. The challenge with riding hills carved into mountains is that although you can see the top, you frequently end up turning back inwards to hug the contours of the coastline, meaning you think you are near the end, but you are not.

I could hear SBG behind me changing gears to match me, but never coming through to do a turn. ‘Why am I such an idiot?’ I thought. “Why not just ease off?’. But ego is a powerful thing and it pushed me all the way towards the top. 200m before the summit SBG pipes up “either you are very good or you are not tapering for tomorrow”. Well there was the validation I wanted. “Not tapering” I shouted into the wind and pushed even harder. But he still pulled along side me as we crested the hill and then shot off down the hill on the other side, which I had never intended to do. I chased him for a full 2km before my dimwit brain registered I was now going to have to go back up again. Idiot. I stopped before reaching the bottom of the climb and turned around, figuring that I would have at least a 2km head start on SBG on this side of the hill. 30 seconds later I finally shut my ego off and my legs and just spun my way to top and down the other side, stopping only to pose for photos.

Two things I learned today: there is a fine line between no mojo and too much mojo. Secondly, I took over 4 minutes off my previous PR on the way up Chapmans Peak Drive. Four minutes off a previous best of 20 minutes says I may be in OK shape for tomorrow. Provided I haven’t cooked myself.

Four further observations from today:

1. With over 36,000 people taking part in the Tour, if just 10% decide to ride on Saturday morning on the same road, that’s a hell of a lot of people all riding together on open roads. Which leads me to,

2. South Africans have no road discipline and ride all over the place. I can think of at least one member of WLRCC who would rage about people riding three abreast at slow speeds. But it also might explain,

3. Why South Africans seem obsessed with wearing the most hideous garish cycling kit. Perhaps they need to be seen on the roads. Cycling along in my completely black and white kit (made by you know who) I stood out like a sore thumb. The other really noticeable thing was,

4. This is no longer a race for white men only. Maybe it never has been, but in the 8 years I have been coming here I have noticed a rise in non-white riders and in women taking part. This morning this was really noticeable. I checked the numbers and more than one fifth of the entries are from women. Both of these things can only be great for the sport.

Bed time. 6am start.

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