Tour de Clanwilliam 2016

We have some Mad athletes at MTD. Nix tells us about their cycle from CT to the Clanwilliam Fitness Festival: 

Flashback to October 2015. 4 crazies (they will remain anonymous), decided it would be a fun idea, to cycle their unfit legs the 300kms to Clanwilliam, from Cape Town, to take part in the annual, and what had become a tradition, Clanwilliam Fitness Festival. (OK fine, it was Gina and Nicole and 2 of their best mates, one of which was our back up driver who was around 6 months pregnant at the time)

It was decided, after 180kms and a MASSIVE plate of ribs after Day One, that this was officially going to be an annual event, and so began the ‘Tour de Clanwilliam’

OK, back to the present. Gina and Nix sadly lost their 2 best mates to the Smog of Joburg and work commitments, which meant it was ‘just the two of us’ (sing it, you know you want to). So we began recruiting. Try get people to commit to 2 days of cycling – with a total of 280kms – to end off at a campsite (which means a tent to sleep in after the past two days in the saddle), and then make them do at least a triathlon on the other side. Oh yes, and did we mention you have to carry your own bag because we are not using a back up vehicle? We managed to rope in 2 more rad human beings who were keen on the challenge, a week after competing in Cape Ultra, and excitedly welcomed Brett – aka Petal, aka Bike Guy, and Paula – we just call her Armstrong, or Quadzilla, whichever you prefer.

The two day cycle itinerary looked a little like this:

Thursday 29 Sept: 07:00 depart from Melkbos to Elands Bay. 
Distance: Approx 190kms. 
Elevation/Route Profile: Flat with one huge hill at the end.
Accommodation: Elands Bay Hotel

Friday 30 Sept: Depart when we feel like it - preferably in the a.m
Distance: Approx 100kms
Elevation/Route Profile: Lots of hills - bring a sense of humor
Accommodation: Clan William Camp Site

OK fine, that’s exactly what it looked like. It was very accurate. The route profile was exact.

We were quite grateful that we managed to rope in a bored student who couldn’t attend lectures (#feesmustfall), at the very last minute, (read Tuesday before departure) to be our back up driver! Welcome Riaan – aka Bokkie aka Skaapie – to our team. YAY! We don’t need to carry our own bags on the bikes, AND we can take more stuff AND more food! This is turning out pretty well.

Right. The point of this story is to talk about the actual cycle up. On it.

We left CT around 6am to miss traffic, to get to Melkbos, with the idea of leaving there at 7am – as per the itinerary. We didn’t miss traffic. We hit it. Bang on peak time. Cue loud music, open windows and 5 squashed athletes waking up all the commuters with some Pitch Perfect  sing a longs. It had begun. In the car. Can you even imagine the rest of the ride?

So last year we arrived at Melkbos ‘Engen’ – it wasn’t an Engen – still can’t remember which petrol station it was, but, it did have a Mugg and Bean, which we had planned on using for coffee and muffins before we headed off. We arrived…no Mugg and petrol station. The devastation was real! There was, luckily, a tiny little farmstall, which sold koeksisters, and coffee, so we bought it all. All of it. Along with some more supplies to add to our already full cooler boxes of food – we were NOT going to get hungry.

Ok, suncream on, Tyres pumped, extra breakfast eaten, toilets visited, pedals changed (I was on my, we think, 5th borrowed bike this year, and realised the pedals didn’t match my cleats. Yeah, Bike guy to the rescue). We were ready to go. It was 8:45am. Only an hour and 45 minutes off schedule. We were doing well.

Off we went. Garmins going and we were all smiles. We looked back to check on our back up vehicle. Ummm, yeah, we lost him, in the first 10 minutes. Turns out we had left him behind. Oh well, he is in a car. He will catch us. We continued on.

Now Petal and Armstrong are quite fast. They have been training all winter. I have had an up and down winter since breaking some bones, and various other excuses I’m sure I can come up with, so I’m pretty average right now. Gina was last on a bike a year ago…for the last Tour de Clanwilliam cycle. Other than one ride I forced her to come on, but she can ride so we stuck together…and so we got dropped. We expected this and had made a plan to regroup at around 60kms at our first ‘picnic stop’ for the traditional Koeksisters and photos. We arrived at the spot we had stopped last year, only to find that it was, in fact, not at 60kms, but 25kms. We (Gina and I) stopped anyway and had our koeksisters. At 60kms we regrouped as planned, but carried on and decided to continue on until the Lunch stop at around 85kms, just after I decided to race a Springbok on the side of the road. The Bok won…but only because it ran in the opposite direction. Lunch Time!

Some lunch and a Beer, or two, and we continued on towards Elands Bay.

The second part of the day was the tough part.  It was relatively windy and we all knew there was a massive pass coming right as we entered Elands. (Last year I nearly cycled over 100  million sheep on the other side of it). We got over it, well, 3 of us did. One of us had everyone crying with laughter at her cramping…Picture a person cramping so badly they are lying on the side of the road because they cannot sit in the car (it was not me by the way)

Rolling into Elands Bay and knowing there was a steak or ribs, or both, a warm shower and a comfy bed, was probably the best feeling any of us have ever felt. In our entire lives. (Yes I am being dramatic. Yes it is entirely necessary)

Day two we woke up, had a breakfast, or two, and were pretty efficient in getting going considering we didn’t even set an alarm. We left Elands around 9am…So early! (last year we left around 10.30am..)

The start of this route was pretty rubbish. With a 5km warm up, we now had a climb. Of 200m over 2kms. On tired legs, and it wasn’t going to be the only horrible climb of the day. There may have been a gel, or two, taken in before 10kms. I cannot confirm nor deny this, or who this was. No Judging. Fine. It was me.

At around 15kms, out of the 80,  I whispered to Gina that I wasn’t sure I was going to finish the day on the bike. We made a decision that we would, no matter what, even though we were pretty sure we had left our legs back in the Elands Bay Hotel bed. At around 25kms, the gels must have kicked in and seeing Armstrong ahead of me in the distance must have spurred something on, and so began a time trial. A 20km TT – NOT a 20min TT. All I wanted was to see the big green road sign at the end of the road saying – Clanwilliam, turn right! I was going to push/pull until that sign. Eventually I hit a point, and the sign just wasn’t coming, so Armstrong decided to get in front of me and we would carry on the pace to the sign…The sign was around the next corner – not even 2kms away. Stupid sign. Ruined my moment. Meanwhile behind us, Petal and Gina were saving tortoises…”saving lives, one tortoise at a time”

And then came the blow. The type of blow that no matter how many gels, cokes, koeksisters, sandwiches etc etc etc, you do  not come back from. With 35kms to go, the last part of the ride was aaaallllllll hills, and very much less than fun. But we regrouped right at the end, and all rolled in to Clanwillam as the group of crazies who cycled from Cape Town to Clanwilliam with massive smiles on our faces and the raddest of memories, and promptly put on our costumes, cracked open beers, and ran into the dam – Sweet Success. We had made it! All we needed to do was get through a little swim on Saturday morning and a triathlon in the afternoon and we had made it

So many epic memories were made over the 4 days away, best mates and friendships cemented for life! This tour is definitely now an annual tradition…coaches may as well put it into our schedules now..Don’t miss out next year guys!

Thanks to the raddest crew and especially to our special driver! Same time, same place next year!


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