For those who don’t know, DC is a 202km cycle race starting in Swellendam and heading over Tradouws pass, Op De Tradouw and a few other sneaky little climbs.
Cyclists must enter a team of 12, and a minimum of 6 have to cross the line together for a finish. If you’re a mixed team the 6 need to be 3 ladies and 3 guys. It’s a brutal race and in all my years of racing this insane cycle, I can honestly say I suffer more in this race than I do for an Ironman. The route is also not your ordinary route. I always tell everyone that at 150km I would rather turn around and cycle 150km back to Swellendam instead of finish the final 52km!
Each year MTD enters a mixed racing team. We’ve finished 3rd twice and we finished 1st in 2012. This is always quite an achievement as we are a bunch of triathletes and we’re up against some top cycling pros in the country. This year’s mixed category was stronger than ever with many of the teams importing their ladies from all over the world!!
Our imports were from JHB – the “Vaalies” were none other than Travis Johnston, Neil Timm & Andrea Steyn. Our Capetonians were myself, Kent, Keelyn, Wesley, Neil Hauser, Brett Kitching, Colin Noel, David Ellis & Shane van der Westhuizen.
A little about the members of the team:
Fred landed up sick so Shane found out on Thursday evening, at our SAQ session, that he was racing 202km on Saturday @ 36km/hr!!
Dave Ellis has raced DC with the MTD team for the last 5 years. In 2012 he got left behind after 60km and had to catch a lift with the sweep vehicle (basically a vehicle fetching all stragglers). In 2015 he refused to race, but somehow, with much convincing and begging, we got him to the start line. When asked if he would race for us the answer was: “I love you, I love Kent, I love Logan but f**k off!”
Colin Noel – pro cyclist, studying medicine, used to study Sports Science with me, used to borrow all my notes for exam time but it was ok – it was pay back time when Colin got to push me up the last few hills. So we are now even!
Brett Kitching aka “the bike guy”. Used to be a downhill crazy mad mountain biker, he came to his senses about 4 months ago and decided to do Triathlon instead.
Doctor Neil Hauser – probably the cleverest most highly qualified Anaesthetist in the country. There was a rumour that he gave his patient an extra dose of meds to wake him up quicker so he could get to Swellendam on time!
Wesley – AKA Posh spice! Our plan was to put Wes in front so he could drag us all through the first 150km at a steady pace. Our plan failed miserably when Wes punctured at 1.5km!
Keelyn – she looks about 15years old but she’s actually finishing off her doctorate in Sports physiology! She has the best poker face I have ever seen in an athlete with a complete do or die attitude!
Vaalie 1 – Travis – loves his sleep! He is an absolute machine on a bicycle but is not too sure if he is racing Olympic distance, half ironman or duathlon – the ideas change weekly!
Vaalie 2 – Neil Timm – he basically writes his own program and gets Kent to check it. Finished 3rd in his category at 94.7, won SA Time trial champs in his Age Group… and is basically a maniac on a bike!
Vaalie 3 – Andrea – she raced 4 races in 4 weekends and won all 4…. Need I say any more!
The Horners – Kent & Claire… not at our fittest. Logan is now 7 months old, he doesn’t enjoy sleep at all so we are both operating on an average of 5hrs of sleep per night. Kent’s online shop project made him put on as much weight as I did when I was pregnant!! I had recently had a rather large crash which was entirely self inflicted – so it was questionable if the Horner’s should actually even be in this racing team at all!!
Nevertheless – we were on the start line and ready to take on the mixed racing teams.
What was probably the worst conditions in the history of the race. When you start in pouring rain and 10 degrees , you know it’s going to be a rather long day.
Within minutes of our start Kent had us all in a long line with each guy taking a few minutes up in front. I wanted to cry when Wes pulled off with a puncture – we could do nothing except leave him on the side of the road and hope that he catch us at the first stop.
We were like a well-oiled machine – each guy doing their bit in front and the girls hiding, trying to conserve energy. After about 20km Hot Chilli – another top mixed team caught us… dammit! That meant they had 30seconds on us – but we decided to hang with them and hopefully take them at the end.
Our stop was perfect and we all set off after 120km – unfortunately Shane punctured close to the stop so he was out, but Wes had caught up so we were 11 cyclists. The groups got bigger and bigger and the pace picked up. At one stage there were 5 mixed racing teams in one huge peloton. With no road closure we at literally spread right across the road forcing all trucks and cars to a standstill. Even poker face Keelyn got a bit rattled and right in the middle of the bunch I heard this tiny little voice amongst hundreds of guys shouting “that’s my wheel”!!
The wind pumped and it poured with rain at the 2nd stop so we all got onto our bikes for the final 40km absolutely soaked and freezing cold!
In our final 40km the guys pulled and pushed and did everything in their power to get us over the big climbs. One by one the guys rode until they broke and could literally not pedal any further. With the final 5km it started pouring even more – I could not see a thing in front of me and was just praying that we’d all make it back in one piece!
By now every guy was properly broken! Brett was still hard core and we knew we needed 3 guys to finish so he started pushing Trav… the conversation went like this:
Trav: “Ah it feels like an angel has just landed on my back”
Kent: “Don’t push the guys”.
Brett: “We only have 2 guys – we need a 3rd!!”
At 201km we turned left up the final 1km climb. I knew we had all given it our absolute best – as I looked behind me all the guys were weaving across the road struggling to make it to the top. I wanted to cry and laugh all at the same time – we were all totally shattered but as a team we had ridden amazingly together. We were beaten by Complete Cyclist – an entire team consisting of pro cyclists!
We will continue to hunt for that 1st spot on the podium but as far as team effort goes – we could not have given any more or gone any harder! On paper we are definitely not the strongest team out there, but somehow we manage to work amazingly together.
A mixed bunch of crazies – but I love you all!!