The Coronation DC was held in Swellendam and was a 202km course, the weather was perfect for racing and I was looking forward to some big miles to sort my legs out. They had been lazy and ineffective over the last two weeks.
On the day we had a plan, I felt we started too slow, but tried to up the pace when I hit the front at every opportunity. The easy start had been great for my legs and by the top of Tradouws they were beginning to tell me they needed to be set loose. I held back until over Op De Tradouws pass and then made a concerted effort to use the available horsepower. I was still getting reigned in but not as much.
The miles ticked over nicely and we were just coming up to full steam ahead by Ashton when disaster struck. We came up to the railway crossing and were simultaneously overtaking a lot of slower teams all bunched up. the mats across the lines did not suffice and we rode over the unprotected lines at 40kmph. I sliced right through my front tire on contact causing immediate loss of control and I took the fall instead of trying to hold my bike upright on a flat tire over the next railway line.
I went down and skidded on my right hand side, but was up in a flash and doing checks on my body, bike and gear. I was Okay, a badly grazed and swollen right elbow was the main concern. Since the traffic was backed up badly our team car took about 7 minutes to arrive with my spare Shamal front but once I had fitted the new wheel and got my timing chip in place I set off with two team mates to pace back to the rest of the team who had decided to press on a a mild tempo.
It wasn’t too long before we had caught up, fueled by adrenalin and my rage for having crashed my new bike I took long hard turns on the front to make amends. Once we had regrouped I picked up the pace again and resumed the onslaught with now 35km to go. We were running out of drinks and spotted a waterpoint were I dived in to get some drinks for the team, just then our team car popped up and pulled over for the rest of the guys. about two minutes later we tried to tackle the last of the course – 3 big rollers lay ahead, but guys had already felt the heat, dehydration and had hit the wall. Carel was bleeding from the nose and swaying aimlessly as he exhausted his supplies. Gil had also taken strain and now Stuart and I had more work to do. Physically pushing and towing team mates over hills!
I sped off ahead to grab some cokes and water for the suffering team. They passed me on the side of the road and I quickly chased and rejoined with Stu for company. Once those were handed out we resumed the pulling. Cramps got me too as I overdid the work towing Carel, I’d recover enough to free them up but they would return with more pressure up hill. I pressed on and through the cramps and soon enough we’d made it over the last of the rollers together. The last 15km was mostly down hill and flat and I enjoyed the higher speeds.
One last 1km uphill drag forced us back into formation and we crossed the line in 6 hours and 30 minutes, still with all 12 starting members.
we’d been outgunned in the team comp, maybe started too slow and had some bad luck, but stayed together and finished as a team.