Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Monday, 11 March 2013

ARRGG-us! Take-2

My second Argus is done and dusted. Last year I trained and was doing long rides (45-75kms) every week-end for quite a few months in the lead up to the Argus. So although I had no idea what to expect and was very nervous, I felt ready.

This year thanks to work work work, very little training happened and I hardly rode my bike at all. I am fairly fit as I do still run a lot, but 1-hour running and 5+ hours cycling up steep hills are not quite the same!

Last year I rode it in 5:16. That was with 3x fluid stops and one 5-min rest break where I sat down and had something to eat before tackling Chappies. So this year I decided to see if I could break 5 hours. A bit of a stretch I now realise considering that fact that I as I said, I really didn't train!

And note I am on an old 'donkey' of a mountain bike with no bells or whistles at all. I don't even have toe-clips.
Also this year I was cycling alone. My buddy from last year chose not to ride as he is focusing on his running this year, and my other cycling friends are much faster and all have much better seedings. So it was just me, on my own, with the horrendous start time of 09:40.

Having stayed the night in Fresnaye, I cycled the 8km to the start on the morning, and got there in plenty of time to find my start pen and eat an obligatory pre-race banana, chat the the other's in my group and pee etc. The weather was nice in town and I felt cautiously optimistic. At 09:40 with the usual 'hopla' we were off... I had my iPOD on and got to a nice comfortable start. Which lasted about 1km until the onslaught of THE WIND pumping down Nelson Mandela Boulevard. OMG. It was tough I was down to my low gears trying to get up that hill towards Hospital Bend, and the descent which is usually fast was a struggle against the wind. People were already stopping to walk there!! By UCT some people had given up, other's bikes had broken and some were walking...

I dug in a persevered and thankfully Rhodes Drive down to Paradise Motors was a nice fast downhill and we were slightly protected from the wind. Wynberg Hill although the steepest incline section of the race was not bad at all and the on the descent to Constantia I managed to pick up quite a speed. I noticed myself grinning half way down the Blue Route, where I hit the 30km mark (in my mileage -8km for the actual race distance) and earned my first caramel toffee. :)

It was a nice ride until Sunny Cove when the South Easter hit us full force and I was struggling. I remember thinking 'This sucks, I'm not doing this again!'. I passed my sister in Glancairn and yelled and waved to her which spurred me on a bit. But just before Simon's Town and at 45km I was feeling really fed up and wondering how I could finish with even the 'easy' flat bits being so tough. I ate a cereal bar and pressed on. The section up to Smitswinkle was hard and scary. I saw at least 5 accidents, almost all women and they all looked pretty hurt. I started feeling less confident and was really worried that I would be bumped in the cross winds. I became a bit scared of going fast (above 45km/h) on the descents, and was feeling quite tired already. Meh.

Smitswinkel arrived and I did the first climb. The Smitwinkle water-point was my first stop last year, this year by the time I got there we were out of the wind and I decided to keep going. And at 60km I got another toffee to energise me. With the break in the wind the main Smitswinkel climb was not bad at all, and I managed to pass a whole bunch of people. The straight gentle descent down the other side was awesome and I raced down there passing loads of people and some even yelled encouragement as I zoomed past grinning and whooping. It was great. I started really enjoying it at that point. I remember thinking 'Ok I can do this!'. The whole way from there through Scarborough and Misty Cliffs was just beautiful and really enjoyable. The hill to Ocean View was a bit trying but was over soon enough and then we had to slog along Kommetjie Road again against the wind... At 75km I took out and energy bar and ate that over the next 5-10kms.

I passed by the Sunvalley water-points, and then stopped briefly in Noordhoek for a quick pee and to fill my water bottles and then set off to tackle CHAPPIES. I decided I'd give myself a break after Chappies. Although I  slogged up Chappies it really wasn't bad, and I passed loads of people walking or riding really slowly. When I got to the top I felt great and pressed on. The ride down was fantastic with Hout Bay looking phenomenally beautiful. At this point I though I was doing well. I had 30km to go, and decided to press through to the end without stopping. I though 'I've got this!'. I rode through Hout Bay and really enjoyed the crowd support and steeled myself for the final 'mother' of a climb. Refusing to stop or walk or give up. As per last year I had a GU which I had kept especially for Suikerbossie. I took it out and used it as mental and physical crutch to get me up there. I won't lie, it was not easy. When I got to the top my feet felt like they were flaming. It was really hot! But with 15kms to go, and a relatively easy ride, I resolved to push to the end. 

I rode fast and strong after that and was really enjoying it. I felt good. I passed many people who had stopped due to cramps or fatigue and was relieved that I was fine. I had not wasted any time or flagged at all. I was chirping people on the side-lines and had a good chuckle at the guy by Le Med with a sign saying 'Ride like you stole it!' :)

Finally after the 'Cramps' Bay climb it was downhill to home. I pumped to the end and finished... Still thinking I'd done well, but not sure as my timing watch had somehow stopped at 3.5 hours and my bike computer had measured my entire ride from long before the race start.

I was a bit bummed when the results sms came through letting me know that I finished in 05:22 - a whole 6 mins slower than last year!? WTF!? :( I have no idea who that happened and feel a little robbed. All I can think is that the wind really slowed me down.. and well the lack of training took its toll... So no sub-5 for me sadly.

Despite that I feel great today. No stiffness or soreness at all. Not bad for having cycled a total of 123kms.  Also I see I finished 11 mins faster than Richard Branson, so that's something at least.

It really is an amazing experience, incredibly well run and so worthwhile!


  1. I think you are awesome - 6 minutes and all

  2. Thanks Cat. I must say I felt better when I saw that my neighbour who was 6 mins faster than me last year and who is a fit and active mountain biker was 18 mins slower than ME this year. YES! ;)