On a day in Johannesburg when cyclists rule the streets, 24000 people race a lap around the city in the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge. This Sunday I made it to the finish line - just! This is my tale of the race…
I was in starting group CC and after a good hour waiting in the hot sun we set off at about 08:20.
How awesome was it to ride on the highways and closed roads, this is what makes this race so great. A bit of a new longer route through the center of Joburg, great to fly down past Sunnyside Hotel this year instead of going uphill (a mountain biker took a hefty tumble in front of me at 50km/hour - looked very sore), we went past Ponte (my training mate Peter went flying past me here) and on to the highway and back into the city through Ghandi square, M1 highway again, Mandela bridge etc. It was really unique experience riding here and I still felt strong at this stage. Then through the tree lined suburbs through to Randburg - hit my best ever top speed of 70km down Jan Smuts going past the Zoo.
Quick stop in Randburg to chat to my mates Brad and Zanne who were in their usual supporter spot just above Republic intersection. Breezed through without stopping once until the N14 highway, I was fortunate to ride with a good friend from the past - Robyn for a few kms up Malibongwe until she left me on the final hill. Great to see the supporters cheering on the side of the road - people were cooking breakfast on skottels, lying in blow up pools drinking beer, offering drinks and splashing water as you rode past...great spirit.
N14 highway and the rest of the race was pure hell, someone left the furnace door open - the heat was energy sapping and the drags seemed to go on for ever and my feet really hurt. Eventually I had to stop under a bridge to cool off and re-energise. After initially vowing not to stop at any water points in the race - I ended up stopping at all of them from the N14 onwards, the heat was killing me. My average speed up to N14 was 24km/h and from N14 home, must have been about 10km/h - yuck. I had to stop to loosen my shoes as I couldn't feel my feet circulation was restricted.
Eventually limped home 40 minutes faster then last year and vowed never to do the race again (until Monday morning where I already planned how to beat my time).
Reasons why the race did not go as planned:
Next year I plan to slice another 40 minutes of my time and ride in pink with Brad Brown...now that's a goal to train to. Thanks to the organizers for an awesome well planned race.
- I wasn't as fit as I should have been - extra 2 months training would have helped (flu and foot injury really hampered my preparation).
- There are no hills in the East Rand for training- so the hills in the race were a struggle.
- False view that a road bike would be easy compared to the mountain bike last year (you still need to be fit - I really missed the granny gear option though).
- To many kgs to drag up the hills - need to lighter for next year.