Revenge is apparently a dish best served cold, but enforced humility does not come with a serving suggestion. Two years ago I achieved Bike God Status by finally cracking the magical, mythical 3 hour mark for the Argus. After that, it was a bit of a struggle to muster up the necessary enthusiasm for the sort of training that I had needed for that milestone. I’d left it way too late in life to contemplate turning pro (by about 25 years), and other pursuits came to the fore. This summer the bike bug has bitten again, and on Sunday, for the first time in about two years I lined up at the start line with the rest of group H for the start of the Journey for Sight.
The ride starts in Constantia, cruises through Steenberg and then tackles the near vertical North Face of the Eiger, sorry, East Face of Ou Kaaps. For the flattish bits I had no trouble keeping pace with my start group, and even felt a tad cocky. Mercifully, not quite cocky enough to push the pace, but comfortable. At ease. That feeling lasted until some time before the hair pin on Ou Kaaps. There are two hairpins going up Ou Kaaps from Steenberg. I was in trouble before the first one. The one at the bottom.
The first breakaways from I bunch tore past before the summit, which pretty much set the scene for what my day was like. A chunk of I caught me at the summit and I rode with them for the descent, over the nasty bump before Sun Valley and through Ocean View. Over the short climb across the peninsula I popped – not for the first time and not for the last time either – and rode past Misty Cliffs alone. Another bunch caught me just before Scarborough and left me on the road to the Cape Point nature reserve.
I lived with the next bunch to the top of the climb at the back of Smits but on one of the bumps into Simons Town, the now-predictable occurred. It got worse. The next bunch to catch up with me featured the kind of cyclist that I normally take pleasure in mocking. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a style snob, not a gear snob. I can remember riding a hand-me down six speed bike with downtube shifters and wheels of whatever archaic size pre-dated the now standard 700C. Sometimes a person doesn’t have much choice. But a person has the choice of fitting a motorcycle rear view mirror to their handle bars. Wearing bib shorts over one’s top is a choice, but not really a good one. Yesterday I wasn’t mocking though, I was too busy struggling for breath.
The rest was largely a blur of pain and suffering. Boyes Drive from Kalk Bay is nasty, and by this stage of the ride I was not worrying about position. I found my own pace and tried to keep my cadence (and chin) up for the rest of the ride back through Lakeside and Steenberg back to the finish.
Any kind of race pace is woefully absent, but I am determined to bounce back. I have been riding my back this summer, and doing some fairly long rides, but clearly riding way too slowly. The distance was absolutely not an issue, but the pace absolutely was. Next weekend’s ride is another hilly one, the Roller Coaster. It’s a bit daunting, because even when I have been fit, I have always had my legs ripped off going over Boyes Drive. Goal for next week: Try and not have my ass handed to me on a plate by the rest of H bunch!